NSRN Conference 2019

Capture 7

As the global population of religious ‘unbelievers’ continues to grow, the Cultures of Unbelief conference brings together leading academics, leaders of religious and nonreligious groups, journalists, and educators to understand what it really means to be an ‘unbeliever’. Cultures of Unbelief will explore how so-called ‘unbelievers’ engage with religion, their diverse existential, metaphysical, and moral beliefs, and prospects for dialogue and collaboration between those with and without religious beliefs.

The Cultures of Unbelief conference is a collaboration between the Understanding Unbelief (UU) research programme and the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN). NSRN is an international and interdisciplinary network of researchers founded to centralise existing research on the topic of nonreligion and secularity and to facilitate discussion in this area. UU is a landmark programme of research, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, involving the large-scale study of ‘unbelief’ and ‘unbelievers’ around the globe. As well as an ambitious core research project, UU involves 21 project teams, working across the human sciences and around the world.

Cultures of Unbelief marks the 10th anniversary of the first Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network Conference in Oxford in 2009, and is the closing conference of Understanding Unbelief. It will present findings from across the UU programme, as well as additional papers from researchers working outside of the programme. Due to the relatively limited space for papers from outside of the Understanding Unbelief programme, we will prioritise proposals that engage closely with the core themes and questions of the conference, as follows:

1.    What is the nature of ‘unbelief’?


  • What are the different psychological forms of unbelief (e.g. disinterest, positive rejection, doubt, etc.), and what is the relationship between them? Do they vary in their coherence, salience and stability over time in individual minds?
  • To what extent are the phenomena we measure as ‘unbeliefs’ manifestations of alternative beliefs and cultures? How can we best describe these alternative beliefs and cultures?
  • What are the processes involved in different forms of ‘unbelieving’? In what bodily, symbolic, social and other forms do unbeliefs manifest in, besides the intellectual and cognitive?

2.   How do the different types of ‘unbelief’ differ across cultural contexts, and across lines of class, age, gender, ethnicity, educational background, religious background, and other demographic groupings?


  • Does unbelief look and function in the same way in different religious contexts?
  • How do various types of unbelief appear and function in contexts in which there is either no word for ‘religion’ or in which the meaning of ‘religion’ is quite different from Western norms?
  • Does a gender gap exist across all types of ‘unbelief’ or only some; in all cultural contexts or only some?​

These themes and questions are central to the Understanding Unbelief programme and will be the focus of this year’s NSRN panels as well. More information about the programme can be found at the UU website: https://research.kent.ac.uk/understandingunbelief/

Deadline for proposals: 7 January 2019.

Please send 250-350 word abstract proposals and a short biography to nsrn2019@gmail.com

Notification of acceptance: 18 January 2019.