RHA – 8th Biennial Conference : Secularism and History

‘Secularism and History’: 8th Biennial Conference of the Religious History Association in collaboration with the Australian Historical Association, Adelaide, 9 – 13 July.

The interface between religious and secularism has in recent years generated both heat and light about the evolution of modern post-industrial, post-colonial societies. Local advocates of secularism have argued that neither Australia nor New Zealand are Christian nations and that secularism without religion forms the underlying ideology of the post-enlightenment state. Other scholars have been less convinced, pointing not just to high levels of historical commitment but also to a wide spectrum of religious beliefs in most western countries but to the contemporary resurgence of religion internationally coupled with the collapse of secularist regimes in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Far from going away, religion appears to be asserting itself more powerfully than ever both on the world stage and in post-colonial settler societies where, it was thought, religion was on a trajectory to oblivion. The challenge to secularism has also seen a rise in interest in the historical origins of the secular state and the religious subcultures who have flourished under the secular umbrella. It is at least arguable that state secularism has encouraged the proliferation and fragmentation of belief that characterizes the information age. The 8th Biennial Conference of the Religious History Association aims to consider the question of the relationship between secularism and history. Speakers are invited to address the theme broadly and with regard to all periods of history and societies other than Australia. Papers may be considered for publication in a special issue of the Journal of Religious History.

The keynote speaker was to have been one of the world’s foremost authorities on secularism, Professor Barry Alexander Kosmin, Director, the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture and Research Professor, Public Policy & Law Program, at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.

Unfortunately, Barry Kosmin will be unable to join us in Adelaide. We all wish him well.

The paper by Barry Kosmin will now be replaced by a keynote paper and roundtable members of the RHA executive.

Religious History Association Keynote Roundtable:

Religion, Secularism and History

Hilary Carey (University of Newcastle, NSW)

Chair: Christopher Hartney (University of Sydney)

Respondents: Shurlee Swain (Australian Catholic University); Ian Tregenza (Macquarie University)

All Abstracts must be submitted through the main conference website of the Australian Historical Association by March 30, 2012. To register an expression of interest, visit the AHA website: www.theaha.org.au/conferences.html.  For Religious History Association inquiries contact: Prof Hilary M. Carey, President of the Religious History Association, email: [email protected].

To align with RHA’s next conference, a free virtual issue of the Journal of Religious History on the theme of secularism has been uploaded and can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/zJTVEl