Call for Papers: “Differentiating Nonreligion” (IAHR World Congress 2015) – DEADLINE EXTENDED

Dear Colleagues,

since the deadline for submitting panel proposals for the IAHR World Congress 2015 “Dynamics of Religion: Past and Present” in Erfurt has been recently extended by the organizers until December 15, 2014, we decided to extend the deadline for submitting abstracts to our panel proposal “Differentiating Nonreligion” (see below) accordingly. The new deadline is now November 30, 2014.

Thus, we cordially invite you again to submit a paper abstract for our panel proposal for the thematic area, “Methodology: Representations and Interpretations.” The XXI IAHR World Congress will be held from August 23 to 29, 2015, in Erfurt, Germany. For more information about the conference see:

Of course, all the abstracts that have been submitted so far will be considered in our final selection for the panel proposal to the IAHR in December. However, in case you have sent us an abstract already, but you want to revise it before the new deadline in November, feel free to submit a new version of it.

Call for Papers: “Differentiating Nonreligion”

There is an apparent growth of research on people who explicitly or implicitly distance(d) themselves in diverse ways from specific religious traditions and ways of life or from religion as such. These studies of “nonreligion” or “nonreligiosity” complement research on secularism and secularity. In our panel, we differentiate specific modes of nonreligion by approaching nonreligious phenomena relationally, i.e. we propose focusing on their various (often co-constitutive) relations towards respective local religious fields in order to contextualize historical transformations and ongoing changes in these religious fields as well as struggles of religious and nonreligious actors about issues of secularism. By interrelating individual biographical factors and the wider socio-cultural, religious, and political contexts shaping distinct understandings and expressions of nonreligiosity, we move ahead of obvious contrasts such as the opposition between indifference to religion on the one hand and various forms of atheism on the other. Focusing on methodologies and concepts of representations and interpretations of such different types / kinds / modes of nonreligion, our panel aims to bring together scholars engaging empirically and theoretically with these questions.

Papers are limited to 20 minutes. The new deadline for submission of abstracts (max. 150 words) is November 30, 2014. Please submit your abstract to: or (please do not reply to this email address)

We look forward to your contributions. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Alexander Blechschmidt
Johannes Quack
Emmy Noether-project “The Diversity of Nonreligion” (

Call for Papers: Religious Indifference

The Emmy-Noether-Project, “The Diversity of Nonreligion,” is happy to be hosting a workshop on “religious indifference” in Frankfurt am Main, from November 13th to 15th.

The concept of religious indifference has been used to describe a specific mode of nonreligiosity that is an expression of extremely low concern for religion. As such “indifference” is to be distinguished from religiosity on one hand and avowed atheism on the other. Furthermore, religious indifference can take various modes, for example that of “existential” or “cognitive” indifference (Pollack, Wohlrab-Sahr, and Gärtner 2003).

As with other modes of nonreligiosity, the social status of religious indifference varies according to the constitution of the religious field and the general socio-cultural context (Quack 2013, 2014). Referring to the British case, Bagg and Voas (2010) argue that current indifference is primarily the result of changes in the religious landscape of Britain and the increasing religious and social acceptance of people who do not practice any religion. Conversely, if religion is deeply embedded in civil culture, religious indifference might be negatively perceived as a form of social dissent (Wohlrab-Sahr and Kaden 2013). Bullivant (2012) by contrast, has introduced an alternative meaning of religious indifference by hinting at the seemingly paradoxical situation of rising interest and concern with religion in European secularized societies; what is at stake here is not a positioning towards personal religious belief, behavior, or belonging, but the (dis)interest in public-political manifestations of religion.

While anti-clericalism or other anti-religious expressions have visibly accompanied processes of secularization, indifference seems to be an important yet unaccounted feature of contemporary societies. In the upcoming workshop, we seek to bring together different scholars who wish to (further) engage with the concept of religious indifference.

The workshop will take place in Frankfurt am Main, from November 13th-15th.

Please note that the workshop’s primary goal is to develop a joint publication. In order to do so, we suggest that all participants write a draft article and distribute it to the other participants prior to the workshop. These articles will be discussed during the workshop itself. We welcome theoretical contributions and methodological and methodic reflections as well as case studies from different national or regional contexts.

Please send a short abstract for consideration to Deadline for application is February 28th. The working language will be English.

Further dates of importance:

•    All participants will be provided an extended conceptual sketch: Spring 2014
•    Participants submit a draft article: October 2014
•    Revision of articles by participants: Spring 2015
•    Final Submission: Summer 2015

May 23 to 24, 2013: Workshop “Être indifférent aujourd’hui en France et en Allemagne: entre religion, spiritualité et sécularisme” in Straßbourg

Strassbourg_SMALLOur research team was kindly invited to participate at the workshop on the phenomenon of “religious indifference”, which was organized by Linda Hennig, Dr. Bruno Michon, and Dr. Pascal Siegers, and held in Straßbourg on May 23 to 24, 2013.

Dr. Johannes Quack and Cora Schuh gave a presentation on “Locating Religious Indifference within a Relational Approach to Nonreligion”, Susanne Schenk and Alexander Blechschmidt on “Not religious, nonreligious, or indifferent to religion? Organized humanism and freethinking in Sweden and the Philippines”.

Photo: (c) by Alexander Blechschmidt

May 16, 2013: Workshop with Prof. Dr. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (Leipzig University) and Prof. Dr. Peter J. Bräunlein (Göttingen University)

On May 16, 2013, we had a one day workshop with Prof. Dr. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, professor of Cultural Sociology at Leipzig University, who led the project on “Multiple Secularities”, and Prof. Dr. Peter J. Bräunlein, professor of Religious Studies at Bremen University, who conducted anthropological fieldwork in the Philippines and is currently working in the research network on the “Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia” (DORISEA) at Göttingen University. Both scholars were asked to give extensive comments, criticisms and further suggestions on the revised research proposals of the three Ph.D. candidates after their pre-studies in order to prepare for the upcoming fieldwork.

May 4, 2013: Lecture at the “Museum für Völkerkunde” by Dr. Johannes Quack

Museum_HamburgOn Saturday, May 4, 2013, Dr. Johannes Quack, the principal investigator of our research group, gave a lecture at the “Museum für Völkerkunde” in Hamburg on

“Die Rationalisten in Indien: Ein Fallbeispiel zur Vielfalt der Nichtreligiosität”
(The rationalists in India: a case study of the diversity of nonreligion).

The series of lectures held at the museum focused on intercultural (non-)religiosity and was part of the cultural programme of the German Protestant Kirchentag.

April 29, 2013: Workshop with Dr. Matthew Engelke (LSE)

On Monday, April 29, 2013, we had a one day workshop with Dr. Matthew Engelke from London School of Economics (LSE). He presented some of his work on humanist groups in Britain. He also reflected and commented on the research proposals of the three Ph.D. candidates.
On the next day, Tuesday, April 30, 2013, our group attended the guest lecture of Matthew Engelke at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity.

January 21, 2013: Lecture on “The Rationalists in India” by Dr. Johannes Quack

Quack_Vortrag_Januar2013On Monday, January 21, 2013, Dr. Johannes Quack, the principal investigator of our research group, gave a lecture on

“Die Rationalisten in Indien: Ein Fallbeispiel zur Vielfalt der Nicht-Religiosität”
(The rationalists in India: a case study of the diversity of nonreligion)

as part of the research colloquium of Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Kohl at the Department of Social & Cultural Anthropology, Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main.