Canceled: Religion and Emancipation: Two Encounters and a Workshop (pre-announcement)

Strasbourg, 8-9 April 2021 (Language: French)
Amsterdam, 14-15 June 2021 (Language: English)
Luxembourg, 17-19 June 2021 (Language: English)
The events in Amsterdam and Luxembourg are canceled. For updates on the Strasbourg event, see the University of Strasbourg website.
These events are being postponed to a date after the summer (t.b.a.)

Today, traditionalist and fundamentalist movements in various religions seems to gain influence in the most retrograde and anti-democratic shapes, which push them to reject any vision on socio-political emancipation. This tendency seems to confirm criticisms that consider religion to be a form of ideological mystification in service of the dominant class or that see in it a heteronymous feature irreducibly opposed to democracy and modernity.

Those criticisms neglect, however, that religions, each time in a specific manner, live by a double and contradictory tendency. If they tend generally toward a justification of the dominant power’s dispositions, it happens equally that they inspire protestation and revolts against domination. This contradiction is palpable particularly in Judaism, Christianism, and Islam.

If this is true, it might be explained by the fact that those religions were originally constituted as “counter-religions,” emancipatory movements aiming at the liberation of the dominated from their state of servitude. The God of the Abrahamic religions does indeed present God’s self as the agent of subversion of social hierarchies. God is the one who liberated the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt, who “hath put down the mighty from their seat.” The Exodus-motive in Judaism and in Christianity and the Hegira in the history of Islam symbolize that emancipatory dimension.

This manifests itself through history in the preaching of the prophets or in messianic and millenarianist movements. Smashed and suppressed by the State and the ecclesiastical apparatus at its service, this dimension is reopened in our days by means of various “liberation theologies.” By rereading biblical and koranic sources, these groups managed to hear undeniable calls there for critique and socio-political struggle. Today the question should be asked if this emancipatory potential is exhausted or if it could still be reactivated. In other words, could it be possible to transcend the aporetic character of the link between religion and emancipation and, if so, how?

In order to deepen the investigation of these questions, we are happy to organize two international encounters (COVID-crisis permitting): the 8th and 9th of April 2021 at the University of Strasbourg (in French), and the 14th and 15th June 2021 at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam (in English). The events will prepare the way for a workshop at the Luxembourg School of Religion and Society the 17th, 18th and 19th of June 2021 (touristic excursions included).

Graduate students, early career researchers, religious professionals and other interested persons are invited to submit presentation proposals for the workshop in Luxembourg; click here for the Call for Submissions.

While not excluding theological, sociological, and historical methodologies, these encounters privilege a philosophical approach enriched by hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and “post-modern” thought.

Under the academic responsibility of Prof. Dr. Christiaan Doude van Troostwijk (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Luxembourg School of Religion and Society, Luxemburg) and Prof. Dr. Jacob Rogozinski (University of Strasbourg)

Image: Paul Gauguin, Vision after the Sermon, 1888 (Detail)

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