Friday, March 13, 2009

Post-Secular Conference at Yale

Folks on the East Coast might be interested in attending an upcoming conference at the MacMillan Center at Yale University, "Exploring the Post-Secular," April 3-4, 2009. It's free and open to the public.

It's a working conference, bringing together an interdisciplinary collection of scholars to share drafts of what will eventually be chapters of a book. I'll be presenting a paper on the Friday afternoon, entitled "Secular Liturgies and the Prospects for a 'Post-Secular' Social Science." (I don't know if I'll have time to discuss it--my draft is 40 pp. long--but a long section of the paper explores the "secular liturgies" found in the so-called 'postmodern' literature of David Foster Wallace, Nicholson Baker, and Cormac McCarthy.)

The context or rationale for the conference is described this way:

There has been a great deal of talk in recent years suggesting that we have entered a “post-secular” age. Much of this is a response to the resurgence of politicized religion on the world scene. But what, if anything, does the term “post-secular” even mean? Have we really entered into a post-secular age? And if so, what implications, if any, does this have for the social sciences? Do these developments imply a new approach to the study of religion? A wholesale reconstruction of social science? A shift towards social philosophy? Is there such a thing as “post-secular social science”?

This conference brings together a number of analysts of religion and its entanglements with the world in an attempt to assess these questions. We will address the possible meanings of religion and of the various terms with roots in the term “secular”: secularism, secularity, secularization. Without some grappling with the question of what religion is, it is very difficult to say what secularity or secularization might entail. We will explore the extent to which the “return of religion” is a product of an actual upsurge of religiosity around the world as opposed to greater scholarly attention to religion. We will also examine the ways in which the global religious situation may compel us to reconsider how we think about both religion and social science.

A pdf of the program and schedule is available here. It includes a contact for registration and further information.

The meeting is co-sponsored by the MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society, the Center for Comparative Research at Yale University, the Social Science Research Council, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.