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Contemporary Religious Movements: From Africa to the Americas and Back

Nouveaux mouvements religieux : retours croisés des Afriques aux Amériques

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Published on Thursday, January 03, 2013 by Loïc Le Pape

Summary

The transatlantic movement of beliefs and of religious practices dates back to the earliest days of the “discovery” of the Americas. Since then, there have been over five hundred years of exchange between the two sides of the Atlantic. In many cases, religious movements brought to the New World by European and African migrants were among those persecuted by the hegemonic religious institutions as heretic or pagan. Sometimes, the crossing to the New World has brought about transformation of old belief systems, leading to the creation of so- called “syncretistic” movements, such as Haitian Voodoo, Rastafarianism, Candomblé, etc. To these, we might add the Pentecostal wave, which in recent decades has been sweeping across both Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, transforming the religious landscapes.

Announcement

An international conference to be held in Geneva, organized jointly by the Swiss Society for African Studies and the Swiss Americanists Society, with the support of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and University of Geneva. It will be held within the framework of Project StAR (Structures anthropologiques du religieux), a research project sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The conference will take place at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva, on the 25-26 April 2013.

Presentation

The transatlantic movement of beliefs and of religious practices dates back to the earliest days of the “discovery” of the Americas. Since then, there have been over five hundred years of exchange between the two sides of the Atlantic. In many cases, religious movements brought to the New World by European and African migrants were among those persecuted by the hegemonic religious institutions as heretic or pagan. Sometimes, the crossing to the New World has brought about transformation of old belief systems, leading to the creation of so- called “syncretistic” movements, such as Haitian Voodoo, Rastafarianism, Candomblé, etc. To these, we might add the Pentecostal wave, which in recent decades has been sweeping across both Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, transforming the religious landscapes: For instance, through the “Pentecostalization” of mainline churches, through the demonization of syncretistic and traditionalist religious expressions, through the founding of Brazilian missions in Lusophone and Eastern Africa, and through the presence of American televangelists in outdoors crusades and in the media. It is interesting to note that, despite its vigour, this transatlantic religious renewal has largely been overlooked by Europeans.

This conference will offer an opportunity for examining these new religious forms in Africa and in the Americas using a comparative perspective. Much ink has already been spilled on this subject, and the abundance of terms in the literature testifies to its complexity. From Roger Bastide’s “syncretism” up to Adnré Mary’s “bris-collage”, pass through Canclini’s “hybridism”, Hervieu-Léger’s use of the lévi-straussian “bricolage”, and the recent “religious butinage”, researchers have been trying to account for this religious renewal which appears to defy classic concepts and models. Even as we agree with the claim that every society is in fact a hybrid society, we believe that it is useful to unpack such concepts in order to account for the ongoing flow and interplay of ideas across regions. Furthermore, today in particular, with the remarkable success to Pentecostalism in its various forms, the question of so-called syncretism deserves in-depth treatment.

This conference will offer an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue (socio-anthropology, geography, history, political science etc.) between scholars of religion in the broad sense of the term, who might otherwise tend to keep to their own area of study in Africa or in the Americas. The conference is supported by the Swiss Society of African Studies and the Swiss Society of Americanists who, for the sake of this topical theme, will join together to go beyond their respective area studies. The conference will welcome scholars in various stages of their careers, in hope of facilitating scientific exchanges and broadening academic networks.

Submissions

Presentations will be given in either English or French. Participants are expected to have at least a passive knowledge of the other language.

The deadline for abstract submission is 15 January 2013.

A full version of the selected presentations should be sent by 1 April 2013. Full papers will be circulated among participants before the conference in order to animate the discussion. Some of the conference proceedings will be selected for a joint publication.

Proposed abstracts should be up to 2,500 characters, and should mention the author's
institutional affiliation. They are to be submitted at: colloque-mobilite-religieuse@graduateinstitute.ch 

Scientific Committee

  • Yvan Droz: Société suisse d’études africaines & IHEID
  • Edio Soares: IHEID
  • Aline Helg: SSA & Université de Genève
  • Philippe Chanson: SSA, Université de Genève et l’Université catholique de Louvain
  • Yonatan Gez: IHEID.

Places

  • Geneva, Switzerland

Date(s)

  • Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Keywords

  • mobilités religieuses, syncrétisme, butinage religieux, Afriques, Amériques,

Contact(s)

  • Yonatan Gez
    courriel : colloque-mobilite-religieuse [at] graduateinstitute [dot] ch

Information source

  • Yonatan Gez
    courriel : colloque-mobilite-religieuse [at] graduateinstitute [dot] ch

To cite this announcement

« Contemporary Religious Movements: From Africa to the Americas and Back », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, January 03, 2013, https://calenda.org/230406

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