Event: Women, Authority and Leadership in Christianity and Islam Conference

Details below of a conference looking at the role of women, representation and participation within the traditions of Christianity and Islam, posting for the stream relating to Secularism and women’s rights.

Dates of Event

10th September 2012 – 12th September 2012

The role of women is one of the most challenging issues facing Christianity and Islam today. This international, interdisciplinary conference will bring together leading academics, religious leaders and representatives of Muslim and Christian communities to explore questions of women’s representation, participation and leadership, and to look at diverse responses to these issues within the two traditions.

Academic Conference:

10th and 11th September

The first two days will be for academic participants. We invite offers of papers and expressions of interest.

Dialogues and Encounters:

12th September

A day of workshops, discussions and seminars involving conference participants and invited representatives of religious communities
Conference Themes

  • Revelation and interpretation: women, authority and leadership in religious texts.
  • Women interpreters of the Bible or the Qur’an.
  • Theological and doctrinal issues relating to the role of women.
  • Historical and contemporary perspectives on women as leaders, religious representatives, spiritual figures or role models.
  • Women’s devotional practices in relation to institutions and authority structures.
  • Secularism and women’s rights.
  • Women’s religious communities and societies.
  • Women imams, preachers, priests and ministers.

Key Note Speakers Confirmed to Date

Professor Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Roehampton

Dr Simonetta Calderini, Reader in Islamic Studies and World Religions, University of Roehampton

Revd Dr Essie Clark-George, Presiding Elder, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Gary District, Indiana, USA

Professor Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of the Centre for the Study of Islam, University of Glasgow

Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector, St James’s Piccadilly, London

Professor Amina Wadud, Professor Emerita of Islamic Studies, Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley and Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

Professor Ursula King, Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol

Professor Fatima Sadiqi, Senior Professor of Linguistics and Gender Studies, University of Fez, Morocco, Director of the Isis Center for Women and Development, and President of the National Union of Women’s Organisations

This event has been made possible by a generous grant from Southlands Methodist Trust.


Last Booking Date for this Event
3rd September 2012
International Conference Monday 10th September to Wednesday 12th September 2012.

Held at Southlands College, University of Roehampton, 80 Roehampton Lane, London, SW15 5SL, UK.

A three-day conference bringing together academics and community organisers to explore key issues concerning the role of women in Christianity and Islam today.


One of our conference speakers, Samuli Schielke has a recent publication which is freely accessible online and of great interest to the topic. Please see details below

What is the function of logic in al-Kindī’s corpus? What kind of relation does it have with mathematics? This article tackles these questions by examining al-Kindī’s theory of categories as it was presented in his epistle On the Number of Aristotle’s Books (Fī Kammiyyat kutub Arisṭū), from which we can learn about his special attitude towards Aristotle theory of categories and his interpretation, as well. Al-Kindī treats the Categories as a logical book, but in a manner different from that of the classical Aristotelian tradition. He ascribes a special status to the categories Quantity (kammiyya) and Quality (kayfiyya), whereas the rest of the categories are thought to be no more than different combinations of these two categories with the category Substance. The discussion will pay special attention to the function of the categories of Quantity and Quality as mediators between logic and mathematics.

Samuli Schielke (2012). BEING A NONBELIEVER IN A TIME OF ISLAMIC REVIVAL: TRAJECTORIES OF DOUBT AND CERTAINTY IN CONTEMPORARY EGYPT. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 44 , pp 301-320 doi:10.1017/S0020743812000062 http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0020743812000062

Publication: Islam and the Politics of Secularism and Varieties of Secularism in Asia

Islam and the Politics of Secularism

The Caliphate and Middle Eastern Modernization in the Early 20th Century

Nurullah Ardic

Published 16th January 2012 by Routledge – 394 pages

This book examines the process of secularization in the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th century through an analysis of the transformation and abolition of Islamic Caliphate. Focusing on debates in both the center of the Caliphate and its periphery, the author argues that the relationship between Islam and secularism was one of accommodation, rather than simply conflict and confrontation, because Islam was the single most important source of legitimation in the modernization of the Middle East.

Through detailed analysis of both official documents and the writings of the intellectuals who contributed to reforms in the Empire, the author first examines the general secularization process in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th century up to the end of the 1920s. He then presents an in-depth analysis of a crucial case of secularization: the demise of Islamic Caliphate. Drawing upon a wide range of secondary and primary sources on the Caliphate and the wider process of political modernization, he employs discourse analysis and comparative-historical methods to examine how the Caliphate was first transformed into a “spiritual” institution and then abolished in 1924 by Turkish secularists. Ardiç also demonstrates how the book’s argument is applicable to wider secularization and modernization processes in the Middle East.

Deriving insights from history, anthropology, Islamic law and political science, the book will engage a critical mass of scholars interested in Middle Eastern studies, political Islam, secularization and the near-global revival of religion as well as the historians of Islam and late-Ottoman Empire, and those working in the field of historical sociology and the sociology of religion as a case study.

Varieties of Secularism in Asia

Anthropological Explorations of Religion, Politics and the Spiritual

Edited by Nils Ole Bubandt, Martijn Van Beek

Published 29th September 2011 by Routledge – 261 pages
Varieties of Secularism is an ethnographically rich, theoretically well-informed, and intellectually coherent volume which builds off the work of Talal Asad, Charles Taylor, and others who have engaged the issue of secularism(s) and in socio-political life. The volume seeks to examine theories of secularism/secularity and examine concrete ethnographic cases in order to further the theoretical discussion.

Whereas Taylor’s magisterial work draws up the conditions and problems of a belief in God in Western modernity, it leaves unexplored the challenges posed by the spiritual in modernity outside of the North Atlantic rim. This anthology seeks to begin that task. It does so by suggesting that the kind of secularity described by Taylor is only one amongst others. By attending to the shifting relationship between proper religion and ‘bad faiths’; between politically valorised and embarrassing spiritual phenomena; between the new visibilities and silences of magic, ancestors, and religion in democratic politics, this book seeks to outline the particular formations of secularism that have become possible in Asia from China to Indonesia and from Bahrain to Timor-Leste.

Forthcoming publications

Please see details below of a number of forthcoming publications in 2012

Natural Burial: Traditional-Secular Spiritualities and Funeral Innovation

Hannah Rumble and Douglas Davies

26th July 2012

“Co-authored with Prof Douglas Davies in the Dept. for Theology and Religion, University of Durham.
From the 1990s the British developed an interest in natural burial, also known as woodland, green, or eco-logical burial. This continued a stream of British interest in funeral innovation from Victorian cemetery monuments through the birth and rise of cremation to the many things done with cremated remains. The book sets natural burial in the context of creative dealing with death, grief, mourning and the celebration of life. Ideas from sociology and anthropology combine with psychological issues and theological ideas to show how human emotions take shape and help people think of their own death as well as dealing with death of those they love.

Douglas Davies and Hannah Rumble explore the variety of motivations for the appeal of natural burial, and use interviews with people using a special natural burial site created by the Church of England but open to all, to illustrate the spiritual understandings of life and death in the sacred, secular and mixed worlds of modern Britain.”

This book is the outcome of the AHRC-ESRC Collaborative doctoral award and will be published by Continuum in July 2012. This joint volume offers a spectrum of anthropological and theological interpretation of people’s choice of woodland burial while also raising numerous theoretical issues pivoting around ideas of ‘giving something back’ and ‘not making a fuss’, as well as the more anticipated issues of ecology

Making Sense of the Secular: Critical Perspectives from Europe to Asia
Edited by Ranjan Ghosh

1st October 2012

This book offers a wide range of critical perspectives on how secularism unfolds and has been made sense of across Europe and Asia. The book evaluates secularism as it exists today – its formations and discontents within contemporary discourses of power, terror, religion and cosmopolitanism – and the focus on these two continents gives critical attention to recent political and cultural developments where secularism and multiculturalism have impinged in deeply problematical ways, raising bristling ideological debates within the functioning of modern state bureaucracies.

Examining issues as controversial as the state of Islam in Europe and China’s encounters with religion, secularism, and modernization provides incisive and broader perspectives on how we negotiate secularism within the contemporary threats of terrorism and other forms of fundamentalism and state-politics. However, amidst the discussions of various versions of secularism in different countries and cultural contexts, this book also raises several other issues relevant to the antitheocratic and theocratic alike, such as: Is secularism is merely a nonreligious establishment? Is secularism a kind of cultural war? How is it related to “terror”? The book at once makes sense of secularism across cultural, religious, and national borders and puts several relevant issues on the anvil for further investigations and understanding.

Europe’s Encounter with Islam: The Secular and the Postsecular
Luca Mavelli

12 March 2012

In the last few years, the Muslim presence in Europe has been increasingly perceived as ‘problematic’. Events such as the French ban on headscarves in public schools, the publication of the so-called ‘Danish cartoons’, and the speech of Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg have hit the front pages of newspapers the world over, and prompted a number of scholarly debates on Muslims’ capacity to comply with the seemingly neutral and pluralistic rules of European secularity.

Luca Mavelli argues that this perspective has prevented an in-depth reflection on the limits of Europe’s secular tradition and its role in Europe’s conflictual encounter with Islam. Through an original reading of Michel Foucault’s spiritual notion of knowledge and an engagement with key thinkers, from Thomas Aquinas to Jurgën Habermas, Mavelli articulates a contending genealogy of European secularity. While not denying the latter’s achievements in terms of pluralism and autonomy, he suggests that Europe’s secular tradition has also contributed to forms of isolation, which translate into Europe’s incapacity to perceive its encounter with Islam as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Drawing on this theoretical perspective, Mavelli offers a contending account of some of the most important recent controversies surrounding Islam in Europe and investigates the ‘postsecular’ as a normative model to engage with the tensions at the heart of European secularity. Finally, he advances the possibility of a Europe willing to reconsider its established secular narratives which may identify in the encounter with Islam an opportunity to flourish and cultivate its democratic qualities and postnational commitments.

This work will be of great interest to students and scholars of religion and international relations, social and political theory, and Islam in Europe.

Post-Secularism, Realism and Transcendence: Explorations of the Utopian Content of the Religious Condition
Jolyon Agar

30 July 2012

This project addresses the recent rise in post-secularism in the humanities and social sciences. Post-secularism is the proposition that the secular project begun by the Enlightenment has come to an end. If we define secularism as the historical process of increasing marginalisation of the religious from contributing to debates in the public sphere and the process of public policy formation then it is in crisis. This opens up the intriguing possibility that there may be opportunities for renewed debate about the nature of our “secular age” and the role of religion in modern society. Evidence for such a renewal of the religious may be found in the alarming rise of religious fundamentalism in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, especially in the Islamic world and the United States, the resurgence of Catholic conservatism under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI or the increasing popularity of more esoterical quasi-religious New Ageism.

This book will be of great interest to those scholars currently working in the area of post-secularism (a very popular area of research in political philosophy); Hegelian and Marxist scholars; the Critical Realist community. It will also be of interest to undergraduates and postgraduates taking courses in Utopian Marxism, Critical Theory, Critical Realism, post-Hegelian German philosophy, philosophy of religion and the interface between political philosophy and religion.

Religious Experience: A Reader
Edited by Craig Martin, Russell T. McCutcheon
Introduction by  Leslie Dorrough Smith

Many regard religious experience as the essence of religion, arguing that narratives might be created and rituals invented but that these are always secondary to the original experience itself. However, the concept of “experience” has come under increasing fire from a range of critics and theorists. This Reader presents writings from both those who assume the existence and possible universality of religious experience and those who question the very rhetoric of “experience”.

Bringing together both classic and contemporary writings, the Reader showcases differing disciplinary approaches to the study of religious experience: philosophy, literary and cultural theory, history, psychology, anthropology; feminist theory; as well as writings from within religious studies. The essays are structured into pairs, with each essay separately introduced with information on its historical and intellectual context.

The ultimate aim of the Reader is to enable students to explore religious experience as rhetoric created to authorize social identities. The book will be an invaluable introduction to the key ideas and approaches for students of Religion, as well as Sociology and Anthropology.

CONTRIBUTORS: Robert Desjarlais, Diana Eck, William James, Craig Martin, Russell T. McCutcheon, Wayne Proudfoot, Robert Sharf, Ann Taves, Charles Taylor, Joachim Wach, Joan Wallach Scott, Raymond Williams

Publication:Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey

Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey
Edited by Ahmet T. Kuru and Alfred Stepan

Published by Columbia University Press, February 2012

While Turkey has grown as a world power, promoting the image of a progressive and stable nation, several choices in policy have strained its relationship with the East and the West. Providing historical, social, and religious context for this behavior, the essays in Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey examine issues relevant to Turkish debates and global concerns, from the state’s position on religion to its involvement with the European Union.

Written by experts in a range of disciplines, the chapters explore the toleration of diversity during the Ottoman Empire’s classical period; the erosion of ethno-religious heterogeneity in modern, pre-democratic times; Kemalism and its role in modernization and nation building; the changing political strategies of the military; and the effect of possible EU membership on domestic reforms. The essays also offer a cross-Continental comparison of “multiple secularisms,” as well as political parties, considering especially Turkey’s Justice and Development Party in relation to Europe’s Christian Democratic parties. Contributors tackle critical research questions, such as the legacy of the Ottoman Empire’s ethno-religious plurality and the way in which Turkey’s assertive secularism can be softened to allow greater space for religious actors. They address the military’s “guardian” role in Turkey’s secularism, the implications of recent constitutional amendments for democratization, and the consequences and benefits of Islamic activism’s presence within a democratic system. No other collection confronts Turkey’s contemporary evolution so vividly and thoroughly or offers such expert analysis of its crucial social and political systems.

Event: Crossroads of Civilizations: Media, Religion and Culture July 8-12, 2012

The secularisation thesis posited that disenchantment would follow modernity, much research has now proved that not only has this reality failed to emerge, but that the vehicle of modernity – technology – has also been a tool for enchantment and religious revival. The conference below explores this relationship, of media and religion and should provide interesting discussions for those interested in media landscapes from both religious and secular perspectives. The event is organised by the The International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture (ISMRC) and follows a series of events which they have run biennially, this being their 8th conference.

The International Conference

Crossroads of Civilizations: Media, Religion and Culture

July 8-12, 2012

Anadolu University

Eskisehir, TURKEY

(in between Istanbul and Ankara)

The International Conference on Media, Religion, and Culture, organized every two years by the International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture, invites papers for its July 8-12, 2012 conference to be held in Eskisehir, Turkey (outside of Istanbul), at Anadolu University.

In contemporary societies, electronic media such as smart mobile phones, satellite television, radio, and laptop computers have become ubiquitous. Although historians point out that world religions have always been mediated by culture in some way, people have incorporated these electronic media into everyday practices, and industries and state organizations have arisen to profit from those practices, in ways that are unprecedented. Today’s media can connect people and ideas with one another, but they also foster misunderstandings and reinforce societal divisions. They may provide the means for the centralization of religious authority, or the means to undermine it. Scholars of religion, as well as scholars of media and of culture, must consider how these various societal institutions of the media interact with one another and with systems of religion, governance, and cultural practices, as our societies demand better means by which to understand emergent concerns in an increasingly interconnected, globalized context.

The contemporary location of Turkey has long been the meeting place between Eastern and Western culture, religion, trade, and communication. This conference provides a crossroads for scholars, doctoral students, media professionals, and religious leaders from a variety of religious and secular traditions to meet and exchange ideas. Interdisciplinary scholarship is welcome, as is comparative work, theoretical development, and in-depth ethnographic studies that shed light on contemporary phenomena at the intersection of media, religion, and culture.

Papers, panels, workshops, and roundtable proposals could address, but should not be limited to:

* Global and Glocal Media and Religion(s)

* Mediation and Mediatization of Religion

* Media and The Boundaries of the Religious and the Secular

* Media, Power, Religion and Democracy

* Religion and Visual Expression

* Crossroads of Old/New Media and Religion

* Religion, Gender and Media

* Dialogue/Conflict: Media and Religion

* Islam and Media/ Islamic Media

* Social Media, Religion and Cultures

Presentation Formats

This year we will be accepting proposals in four formats: papers, panels, workshops and roundtables.

Panels bring together in discussion four participants or presentations representing a range of ideas and projects. Roundtables may include more individuals who comment on a common theme in briefer formats.

Panels and roundtables are scheduled for 90 minutes and should include a mix of individuals working in areas of research, theory, and practice. We also encourage the use of discussants.

Workshops provide an opportunity for hands-on exploration and/or project development. They can be organized around a core challenge that participants come together to work on or around a tool, platform, or concept. Workshops are scheduled for 90 minutes and should be highly participatory.