Working Group “Ethnology of Religion” 2020 Conference

“Religion and Nature – Cultural Ecologies of Belief”

Conference has been cancelled

Salvation Mountain shirne in the Californian desert, photo by P.J.Margry

For religious worldviews and practices, nature is a revealing context for orienting humans to the questions regarding the cosmological origins of the universe, the meaning of the emergence of life, and the role of humans in relation to life processes. In the context of current debates on climate change, on biodiversity loss and mass extinctions, religious groups and protagonists increasingly assert the need to include awareness of environmental issues into religious ways of thinking about the world. Some groups even radically recontextualize certain religious assumptions about what nature really means, how to (religiously) interrelate to it and at what costs.

The 2020 conference of the SIEF Working Group “Ethnology of Religion” wants to draw closer to the current as well as historical dynamics of the “religion-nature” interdependence and thus to the cultural ecologies of beliefs. We are interested in a broad set of questions and research foci, i.e.:

By unfolding a wide range of topics and by inviting papers with diverse perspectives and methodological approaches we aim to contribute – ethnographically and theoretically – to the current intense debate on the conceptualization of the “nature-culture” entanglement. New theoretical frameworks deconstructing the “nature-culture” divide such as “naturecultures” or “companion species” formulated by Donna Haraway or Anna Tsing’s idea on a collaborative survival of species during capitalist crisis are highly innovative and inspiring, yet the role of religion in our understanding of and entanglement with and through nature remains to be more deeply explored (Haraway 1997, 2003, Tsing 2015, Jenkins/Tucker/Grim 2017).

References: Haraway, Donna (1997). Modest_Witness@Second_MilleniumFemaleman©Meets_OncoMouseTM. New York: Routledge.
Haraway, Donna (2003). The Companion Species Manifesto. Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Jenkins, Willis/Tucker, Mary Evelyn/Grim, John (Hg.) (2017). Routledge Handbook on Religion and Ecology. London: Routledge.
Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World. On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.