Religion and Immigration  Date:  June 7-9, 2022

Location: Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.

An interdisciplinary workshop, supported by the Israel Science Foundation, exploring the role of religion in the social and cultural integration of immigrants. Cosponsored by INIRE – the International Network for Interreligious Research and Education:

Conference will follow Covid safety regulations. Online presentation may be possible.

Send title and a short abstract (150 words) by 22/2/2022 to Acceptance letters will be sent out by March 7, 2022.

In the aftermath of the refugee crisis that shook European societies in the last decade and the divisive debate on migration to the United States, the prospect of cultural and religious conflict has increased and extremist politics now threaten to undermine democratic cultures and processes. Yet, religious communities also extend hospitality to immigrants and often lead the way in cultural and civic integration. Migrant religious leaders provide their communities with a sense of continuity of tradition, and local religious activists provide bridges to the new societies. The multifaceted roles religion plays in immigration are at the center of this conference.

Immigration has radically reshaped the global religious landscape throughout history. As religions enter new and unfamiliar territories, new religious, linguistic and cultural bridges form, and questions of religious change, conversion and secularization become acute. Theologies are transformed. Immigrants retain religious leadership or develop a new one, and both can enhance or disrupt integration. Religions often provide immigrants with the major channel for cautious adoption of local habitus, norms and ideas and negotiation of religious and cultural ideas into the hosting culture. They are a medium for major cultural encounters.

We hope to explore the role of religion in immigration from a post-secular perspective, that is, with the presumption that religions are key social players even in Western “secular” societies and that they should be explored both institutionally as diverse culture.

Our preferred format is a workshop, but participants may choose their mode of delivery (including PowerPoint).  If you choose the workshop format, please note that full papers will be expected one month before the conference and presentations will be no longer than 15 minutes.

The conference is multidisciplinary and interreligious. Among the topics:

  • Religious leaders as sources/purveyors of continuity.
  • Theologians as cultural bridge-builders
  • Religious activists as socializing agents
  • Religion’s impact on integration: case-studies
  • Religious activism, religious institutions and immigration.
  • Religious communities facilitating integration.
  • Religious organizations and refugees
  • Religious sensibilities and humanitarian ideologies
  • Religious organizations, lobbying, and immigration policy making

The list is not exclusive. Feel free to add.

This conference is being cosponsored by the Israel Science Foundation, Bar-Ilan University (School of Social Work), Duke University (the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, Franklin Humanities Institute, and Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics), and The Chair for Judaism and Society.


Religion and Authority: Contest and Legitimacy

July 5 – 10, 2020, Palermo, Sicily, Italy – POSTPONED


Political and transcendental authority are problematic in themselves and at odds with each other. Each religion has defining moments when the core questions become contested and are opened for debate, modification and change. Where is authority coming from or based upon? How is authority defined, invested and limited? Who wields authority, and how does it become legitimized and delegitimized?

In our post-secular society, the questions of religious authority and its relation to the secular, of religious canon and literature, religion and nationalism, and religion in the public sphere remain the focus of public attention, debate and research. The conference in Palermo will provide a multidisciplinary framework for academic discussion of these questions by looking at the three Abrahamic religions and especially their interrelationships.

Proposals on any aspect of Religion and Authority: Contest and Legitimacy are welcome. Suggested topics include:

  • Authority of interpretation and canonization of holy texts
  • Secularization and issues of religious vs. state authority
  • Religious texts and political debate
  • Conflicting ideas of supreme authority
  • Heritage, patrimony and cultural capital
  • Authority performed, ‘staged’ and ‘established’
  • Who owns religious property and endows it with meaning?
  • Controversy on holy places, objects and their meaning
  • Totalitarian regimes and religious authority
  • Religious authority and minority rights
  • Moral authority and human autonomy
  • The authority of sacred rites
  • Ideological belief systems
  • Musealization of religion as an authority issue

Please send paper proposals of 300 words (plus 150 bio) by 1 February 2020 to

(Paper presentations should be limited to twenty minutes.)


Religious Heritage in a Diverse Europe

June 19 – 21, 2019, Groningen, Netherlands



Heritage Partners: Stichting Oude Groninger Kerken, Museum Catharijneconvent, Future for Religious Heritage – Europe (Brussels), Jewish Cultural Quarter (Amsterdam)

Immigration and secularization are changing the religious makeup of European societies. While more people identify as non-religious, new arrivals and conversion mean that the religious landscape is becoming increasingly more complex. This presents new challenges to the organizations, government agencies and scholars engaged with maintaining and promoting cultural heritage. How should Europe’s plural religious pasts be represented? How can heritage be translated for audiences who may not identify with local religious traditions? Should heritage organizations address believers and non-believers? These pressing questions are at the heart of the conference “Religious Heritage in a Diverse Europe”.

This conference will bring together leading scholars and professionals in the fields of religion and heritage studies to explore this question. The challenges of dealing with religious heritage in a diverse Europe will be approached from the perspectives of the academy, education, museums, preservation societies, as well as religious and secular organizations.

The conference will take place in Groningen, a northern Dutch province that plays a leading role in European heritage work. It has a wealth of medieval churches and modern synagogues that are increasingly cared for by secular heritage organizations, the largest being the Stichting Oude Groninger Kerken (SOGK). The Centre for Religion and Heritage (CRH) at the University of Groningen has long provided expertise and training in heritage studies. The SOGK and CRH partnered up with Museum Catharijneconvent, the national Dutch museum for Christian heritage and history, and the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam. European support is granted by the Future of Religious Heritage, the Brussels-based network for historic places of worship.

The conference will have a festival format with a variety of activities planned for participants. In addition to professional presentations, there will be excursions to local heritage site, an international summer school for BA & MA students, a children’s university conference, and art projects in the city center.



Normative Religious Traditions and their Authority

July 23 – 24, 2018,  Leipzig University

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: these religions rely on normative religious traditions, sometimes called ‘Holy Scriptures’. Today, late-modern or post-modern societies often ask if these normative texts are still meaningful and relevant.

The questions asked will include: What roles do “Torah”, “Bible”, and “Quran” play in the three monotheistic religions in the past and present? How are the old texts interpreted today? And how are they used in religious and political discussions? Are ‘holy texts’ relevant for ‘secular people’? And what role do ‘holy texts’ play in the dialogue of religions and discourse in our societies?


Interreligious Dialogue in the Post-Secular Age

April 23 – 25, 2017,  Duke University

In the twenty-first century, religion has made a surprising and powerful return, and has had major impact on public affairs, domestic and international alike. Scholars are still scrambling to understand the phenomenon’s significance, and those concerned for the preservation of constitutional norms and civility have been searching for new forms of interreligious dialogue. Do we live in a post-secular age? Has the Weberian concept of modernity proved inadequate? Does postmodernity open new opportunities for religious dialogue? Scholars at five Israeli, European & American universities explored these questions with a view to launching a long-term international collaboration that will result in the establishment of a new institute.