On March 6-8, 2014, the University of Bern will host an international conference entitled “Working with A Secular Age: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Charles Taylor’s Conception of the Secular.” Jonathan VanAntwerpen, editor of The Immanent Frame and director of the SSRC’s Religion and the Public Sphere program, and Columbia University’s Akeel Bilgrami (whose SSRC working paper on secularism was the basis of an extensive discussion at The Immanent Frame) will be keynote speakers at the conference.
“Since its publication in 2007, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age has been generating a lively discussion. Understandably so: In his seminal work, the Canadian philosopher aims at nothing less than a re-telling of the (hi)story of the secular. While some enthusiastically welcomed A Secular Age as a breakthrough in the ongoing reconfiguration of secularity, others pointed to certain weaknesses and limitations of Taylor’s work. Moving one step beyond general appraisal and the already existing and important critique of A Secular Age, this conference aims at exploring the applicability (and its limits) of Taylor’s conception of the secular.
Participants’ common goal will be to critically reflect on the general potential of Taylor’s conception for individual disciplines. In their presentations, scholars working within the fields of Theology, Philosophy, Sociology, History, Religious Studies, Area Studies (incl. Islamic Studies), Political Science and Law, Literature and Art or Gender Studies will tackle the following questions concerning their respective discipline: Which aspects and assumptions of Taylor’s work can be adopted easily; when does a need for translation and transformation arise; and where are the barriers of disciplinary understandings, approaches and traditions too large to be overcome? Next to these theoretical considerations, participants will have the opportunity to present their completed or current research projects, which in one way or another integrate, modify or built upon a specific theoretical aspect or a phenomenological finding brought forward in A Secular Age.
The deadline for proposals is November 15, 2013. For further details on the conference, and on the submission of proposals, see the full call for papers.
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