Value, Values and Religion in the Contemporary World (workshop)
The Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, University of Copenhagen
This workshop seeks to engage with a seeming resurgence of interest in theories of value. In studies of religion, value has generally been used in the sociological sense of ideas about the good and desirable (religious/cultural values), a field of study recently revitalised by Joel Robbins. Value in the economic sense of 'price mechanism' (Graeber) has been employed analogically to uncover the economic workings of religion, for example in concepts such as symbolic value and the religious marketplace. However, economistic dimensions of religion are often assumed to be antithetical to religious values, particularly in analyses of religion and consumer society (Carette and King). We seek to question this assumption through discussion of the relationship between sociological and economic approaches to value in relation to religions and spiritualities in the contemporary world. Instead of understanding the commodification of religion as inevitably leading to a devaluation and lack of authenticity, we look at how commodification might also provide added value to local religious goods, ideas and lifestyles, as argued by Comaroff and Comaroff (2009) in relation to the commodification of ethnicity. For example, how has the marketing and branding of religion aided a process of growth and revitalization of religious institutions? What possible contentions and ambiguities arise within the nexus of religion and economics when religious or spiritual values become marketized and positioned within an economic value regime? How might discussion of value (economic) and values (sociological) open up ideas about the relationship between the individual (value as connected to strategy, agency, motivations, aspirations, interests, “homo economicus”) and the collective (values as moral, traditional, connected to socialization practices)?
Call for Papers
We welcome papers from scholars working with value as a concept across a diversity of geographical and religious contexts, taking ‘religion’ in a broad sense to encompass a wide variety of beliefs, practices and spiritualities not limited to institutionalised religious traditions. We are particularly interested in ethnographically informed papers that analyse value and the relationship between value and values in practice. It should be noted that it is not the aim of the workshop to debate normative theories of religious ethics and their application in the contemporary world.
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 1 March 2018.
All travel expenses, meals and two nights’ accommodation will be covered for scholars selected to participate. Participants must submit a working draft of their paper by 10 May 2018. Following the workshop, we ask that papers are revised and submitted for publication by 1 October 2018. The papers from this workshop will be published in a special issue in 2020.
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