Siena 2018Religion and Politics - Conflict and Peace

13th International Conference of the SIEF Ethnology of Religion Working Group
Siena, September 20th-23rd, 2018


Registration is now open and the full programme is online. Please read the sections below for more information.


Politics and religion have never existed in isolation but always stood in continuous interaction throughout times. The “growing salience of religion on the world stage” (Hackett 2005:145) is to a great part due to the politization of religion in different contexts and dimensions: already in the early 2000s Grace Davie pointed to the European exceptionalism to the former persistent secularization thesis (cf. Berger 1967): “New arrivals”, especially Muslim Immigrants, challenged the image of the secular state. Right wing oriented, anti-Muslim political parties arose all over Europe as a reaction to the supposedly Muslimization of certain sectors of society. At the same time, orthodoxy was re-established in Putin´s Russia and conservative or contestative Roman Catholic movements address political developments all over the world. Nationalist Hinduism rose in India up to the election of a respective prime-minister. These various developments in political discourse also drew attention to the scientific study of religion. For the ethnography of religion it is a chance to broaden its objects of study and increase its public visibility.

While the aforementioned interactions between religion and politics gave way to conflicts on various levels, attention must also be paid to the “ambivalence of the sacred” (Appleby 2000): Reconciliation processes in South Africa and Northern Ireland for example have been informed by Christian ideas of peace. Other examples of political peacebuilding work can be found in Muslim or Buddhist discourse or the role of religions in the African-American emancipation movements.

Grasping the relationship of religion and politics in conflict and peace can also be framed in historical context. The conference invited papers that take up the context of fascism and racism with relation to religion in the year of the 80th anniversary of the Italian race-laws. The conference aims to explore from ethnological / anthropological perspective the general theme of politics and religion in various national and political contexts, either in historical or contemporary times. Theoretical proposals and papers illustrating the productivity of ethnographic methods in research into the connection between religion and politics were welcome.

Possible subthemes of the conference are:


You can download a PDF of the programme, including paper titles, abstracts & authors here.


Opening Day: Aula Magna Storica, University of Siena Rectorate, Banchi di Sotto 55.
Following days: Presidio San Niccolò, via Roma 56.


The registration fee is €90 (€72+VAT). After July 31st it will rise to €110 (€90+VAT). This includes access to the conference, drinks and food at the welcome reception, snacks/brunch during coffee breaks and two lunch breaks.


To register (and pay) click here.


Side events: special dinners

We have two options: one, Thursday, a short visit to a Contrada museum, followed by a dinner (typical Siena's food); the second one, Friday, a dinner at l'Orto de' Pecci (medieval garden).

Thursday 21st, 20:00

A visit to Contrada del Leocorno headquarters (church, museum, victories' hall) will be followed by a dinner.
Sample menu: Tuscan starters (bruschetta, various topped toast, crudités); ribollita (vegetables and bread creamy soup) or pici al ragù (local pasta with Chianina beef sauce); main course: mixted roasted meats, potatoes and vegetables;  dessert: cantucci and vin santo (almonds biscuits with dessert wine)
Beverages (Chianti wine, mineral water) included.

Booking and pre-payment are required and possible until Sept, 14th, via bank transfer:
Bank: Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena
Account Holder: Contrada del Leocorno
IBAN: IT81N0103014200000001069127
Reason for payment: SIEF Dinner for [Last name] plus number of paid quota

Vegans, vegetarians, or possibly allergy or intolerance bearer can notify or request menu changes, via email: segreteria(at)
Please, email after having booked and paid: segreteria(at)
Website and Facebook page.

Friday 22nd

Orto de' Pecci (medieval  garden and green heart of Siena) - social dinner
Apetizers and starters (cold cut, sheep chees,  toasts); Pappa al pomodoro (Tomato creamy soup); Home made pasta with local garden vegetables, oven baked pork, green or mixed salad, potatoes; dessert, coffee.
Beverages (Montepulciano Red wine, mineral water) included.

Booking and pre-payment are required and possible until Sept 14th, via bank transfer:
Bank: "Chianti Banca credito cooperativo società cooperativa di Monteriggioni . Ag 2 Siena".
Account Holder: Coop Sociale La Proposta
IBAN: IT21X0867314201005001051000
Reason for payment: SIEF Dinner 21 SEPT for [Last name] plus number of paid quota

Vegans, vegetarians, or possibly allergy or intolerance bearer can notify or request menu changes, via e-mail, referring to Silvia De Carolis.
Please, email after having booked and paid, to
Website and Facebook page.

NB:  Receipts will be delivered on presentation of a copy of your bank transfer (print or download it on your cell phone).


There is a wide array of housing possibilities, as hotel/B&B rates are flexible and varied. Many booking web services (Booking com, Tripadvisor, Trivago etc.) offer cheaper prices than those directly from the hotel. However, we list some suggestions:

University of Siena Residence 'Il Refugio' offers single or double rooms, no breakfast included. Email for rates/booking: refugio(at)

Hotel Duomo (3*, central) offers delegates a 10% discount (offer valid from 19th-23rd September). Email for information: booking(at) quoting SIEF conference.

Hotel Antica Torre (3*, close to conference venues) offers delegates an 8% discount. Email for information: anticatorre(at) quoting SIEF conference.

The conference venues are located in the historical centre, where unauthorized traffic is forbidden. Peripheral accomodation might require the use of car or public transport.

Excursions: Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th

We are negotiating discounted collective access to the historic, artistic monuments in the centre of the town. This may start already on Saturday afternoon, as it's bright until late and all the monuments are nearby. As the ticket is valid for three days, it would be possible to continue on Sunday, for those staying longer.

The ticket cost €25 and covers entrance to all the museums (opera del Duomo, Santa Maria della Scala, the XIII church called "cripta" and a special route that take one to the roof ot the cathedral, that is really impressive and memorable). Additionally, in the period of our conference, the Cathedral floor - mosaic and illustrations of holy stories as well as of classic myths - that is currently protected and hidden, will be uncovered.

More information will follow, but registration for the excursions will be possible once at the conference.


The closest airport to Siena is Florence; the closest low-cost airport is Pisa. From Florence it takes 30 minutes to reach either the train or bus station (one facing the other). Trains run frequently between Florence and Siena (you may need to change in Empoli) and the journey takes 1h30-1h45. The bus takes 1hr15 (non stop), or 1hr40 (intermediate stops). Trains leave frequently from Pisa Airport (a people-carrier takes you to the station). It takes 2h with a change in Empoli.
If travelling by train, you’ll have to use public transport thereafter to reach Piazza Gramsci, or your hotel's location. A taxi service is available in front of the train station.

Italy's main airport (Roma Fiumicino) is also connected by train: changing at Roma Termini, and then Chiusi-Chianciano Terme. This takes 4.30-5h. You can also get to Roma Termini station from Rome's low-cost airport, Roma Ciampino. Alternatively there is a bus service, which takes ~3h, and leaves from opposite Roma Tiburtina (one of several train stations in the capital). Roma Tiburtina may be reached via subway from Fiumicino Airport or from Roma Termini. If travelling by bus, please check your final stop: Piazza Gramsci is the most central; from there almost all of the historical centre of the city is within reach.

Maps of the venues

You can download a PDF map of Siena centre with venues marked on.

We also have a Google map we will share here shortly.

Google map of venues