AccueilReligion in Europe, religion and Europe
Publié le mardi 19 juin 2007 par Sylvain Lesage
Religion in Europe, Religion and Europe
Organizers: François Foret (Université Libre de Bruxelles); Xabier Itçaina (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Bordeaux)
Workshop organized in concertation with the ECPR Standing Group on Religion and Politics
Scientific committee: Yves Deloye (Panthéon-Sorbonne University, French Association of Political Science) François Foret (Université Libre de Bruxelles) ; Jeffrey Haynes (London Metropolitan University, ECPR standing group on religion and politics) ; Xabier Itçaina (IEP de Bordeaux) ; Philippe Portier (Université Rennes 1)
Recent debates have focused on the institutional issues raised by the relations between religion and European integration, such as the Churches’ participation in EU governance, references to the Christian heritage of Europe in the preamble of the Constitutional treaty, or the revival of denominational powers within national arenas. Meanwhile, belief is nowadays developing in Europe essentially through individualized and deregulated forms which are no longer under the control and the mediation of organized political and spiritual institutions. This workshop aims to analyse both institutional and non-institutional religious phenomena in their interaction with the Europeanization process experienced by State members.
From a more global perspective, material presented here will contribute to discuss the hypothesis of secularization as a European exception in a world marked by the resurgence of religion. Far from being entirely relegated to the private sphere, religion has kept its strong presence in the European public sphere, either as a “resource for identity”, as an “ethical reference” or as a “ritual provider”.
One must go beyond the deterministic vision of State-Church relations, without neglecting the long-lasting effects of historical heritages. Echoing other analyses in terms of “Europeanization from below”, special attention will be paid to the way religion, as a sectorial part of civil society, has adapted to the new context of European integration. To what extent does religion influence European integration, either by strengthening or weakening it? The temporal and spatial references of religions need to be compared with the boundaries and political agendas defined by the EU. What is the role played by religion in the constitution of a comunicational Europe, defined as a community of trust and identification, and as a space of exchange and shared meanings?
The Europeanization of religion can be understood as the process that makes religion an object which both influences European integration and is influenced by it. Its effects on institutions and EU policies and upon wider transnational and inter-State phenomena will be considered. The EU can constitute alternatively an incentive framework for or a constraint upon religious change. Conversely, it can also be the strategic target for “moral entrepreneurs”.
Various empirical illustrations should be considered. The media are particularly crucial due to their ambiguous relationship to religion and to the increasingly distant relations between the believer and his community of conviction. Recent events such as the Mohammed cartoons crisis or, in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, the election of a new pope, are relevant from this perspective. The role played by religious factors – coming from any of the European denominations – in European debates on education, migration, internal security or social commitments also provides fertile ground for investigation.
Religion and European integration
Religions are more and more involved in European integration politics, policies and polity. Religious groups and institutions act as lobbies and political forces in Brussels or in intergovernmental games. Religious stakes are on the EU agenda, in terms of controversies over European identity or of normative policy issues (multiculturalism, bioethics, international affairs...). The religious dimension underlines the way the Turkish bid is addressed and impacts the external relations of the EU, speaking of “clash of civilizations” or “dialog between cultures”.
Religion and the media
The cartoon crisis is a major example among many of the tumultuous relationships between media and religious freedoms. These two principles are often competing within pluralistic societies. Religions develop a strategy of using traditional and new media both as a way of spreading belief and as a battlefield to impose the recognition of their specificity through a growing use of law. This cooperation/confrontation leads to a redefinition of the limits and regulation principles of the public sphere which need to be investigated comparatively to see whether there are European trends in a common communicative space or if it remains rooted in national particularisms.
Religion, national and local identities
Religion has always been a symbolic resource and a massive set of actors in the process of nation-state building and political legitimation. The secularization of societies makes this role more indirect and diffuse but not obsolete. In renewed ways, religion may influence if not frame political engagement and debates on social and ethical issues, especially in Southern and Central-Eastern countries. Immigration has been a major example, both at the national and local levels. Conflicting infra-national territorial identities have also been a structure of opportunity for religious actors, either in furthering the politico-territorial divisions, or in trying to reduce them through mediation. The interactions of these discourses and mobilizations with supranational and/or transnational dimensions are parameters of the level of Europeanization of societies.
Religion between institutions and social movements
The “believing without belonging” and “belonging without believing” phenomena express the desinstitutionalization of the sacred and the individualization of practices and beliefs. The spiritual market is now wide open to competition. Participative democracy offers ambivalent structures of opportunity to religious entrepreneurs: political institutions are promoting direct dialog with civil society and empowerement of groups and individuals; at the same time, they are looking for stable partnerships with established institutions in order to manage social diversity. To what extent do religious actors and/or institutions fit themselves into this process? How is the religious “market” adapting to this new context of political governance?
This workshop is the continuation of ongoing individual and collective researches which have already produced events (a conference supported by the French and Belgian Associations of Political Science in Mons, February 2006, and a workshop at the French Association of Political Science Congress in Toulouse, September 2007) and publications. The objective is to widen the empirical and theoretical scope of the programme and to internationalize the debate. Editorial followings will be discussed. Any researcher tackling the issues cited above is welcome to propose a contribution, with a particular emphasis on comparative works. Monographies will be considered to the extent they cast an original light on theoretical questions.
The directors of the workshop will try to secure alternative financial support, but each prospective participant should look for his own resources.
 On the “European exception”, see Grace Davie’s contribution to Peter L. Berger. (ed.) The Desecularisation of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Voyé, L. (2006), “Religion et politique en Europe”, Sociologie et sociétés, vol. 38(1), p. 139-163.
 Davie G. (1994), Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without Belonging, Oxford, Blackwell.
 Foret F. (ed.) (2007), L’espace public européen à l’épreuve du religieux, Bruxelles, Editions
de l’Université de Bruxelles ; Foret F., Itçaina X. (eds.) (2008), « Dieu loin de Bruxelles. L’européanisation informelle du religieux », Politique européenne, n° 24, Winter.
- Rennes, France
- vendredi 11 avril 2008
- Europe, religion, legitimacy, identity, politics
- François Foret
courriel : francois [dot] foret [at] fucam [dot] ac [dot] be
- Xabier Itçaina
courriel : Xabier [dot] Itcaina [at] eui [dot] eu
Source de l'information
- François Foret, Xabier Itçaina ~
courriel : fforet [at] ulb [dot] ac [dot] be
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« Religion in Europe, religion and Europe », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le mardi 19 juin 2007, http://calenda.org/193266
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