The Department of Religion and Culture has hosted yearly large-scale events since 2011, all related to pressing issues in today's world. See more by clicking the links below.
Generally, the intellectual rationale behind the symposium lies in some of the questions that motivate our department, a diverse group of scholars in their own right -- with faculty drawn from Anthropology, History, Religious Studies, Literary Criticism, among others. Specifically, we notice how some groups draw on mythic narratives of a “Golden Age” to orient conduct in both established and new and confusing situations. We also notice that both secular and religious movements tend to use their understandings of the future (“apocalyptic” or otherwise) to guide actions in the present. We encourage participants (including audience members) to think with us on these problems, how ideas of past and future shape the present
Arguably, there is no better illustration of globalization's "flattening" of the world and the corresponding promises and challenges that confront issues of diversity in this context than the example afforded by Christianity. The future of Christianity resides neither in Europe nor the United States but in Africa, South America, and Asia. The numbers are staggering: while 1% of the world's Christians lived in sub-Saharan Africa in 1912, by 2012 that number is 24%. On any given Sunday, more Presbyterians attend services in Seoul than in Scotland. This symposium will explore the implications of these realizations and what they mean for the future of both "Christianities" and the "Global South."
The election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 was heralded by a number of commentators as an awakening to a “post-racial” era in American society. As a Harvard-educated son of an American woman and Kenyan father, Obama seemed to be diversity personified. His call to look beyond “blue states” and “red states” was a call for a new transcultural ideal of America, where Americans would find hope in and be unified by their differences. But Obama’s hopeful hyperbole was matched by hyperbole of a different type. Indeed, traditional American tropes of racism emerged in certain reactions to their new commander-in-chief, yet the main thrust of these negative reactions arose in questions related to Obama’s religious beliefs and religious identity.
In contemporary American society, the adjective “Judeo-Christian” rolls easily off the tongue. Yet, as often as “Judeo-Christian” is deployed, it rarely is defined, perhaps because few feel the need to define it. See the published proceedings here.