Call for papers

Call for Papers

Theme – Implicit Religion: what might that be?



In its first ever USA based venture the Implicit Religion network (CSIRCS) is holding a conference on the theme of Implicit Religion: what might that be? It aims to focus on the analytical categories of ‘religion’, ‘secular’, ‘spirituality’, ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ in a conversation around what do we mean when we use those terms? What data are we focused on when we gather findings on those terms or categories? In what ways are those categories implicated in, shaped by and shoring up problems in regards to categorising people such as race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class and employment status? These are the questions we want to begin to address and develop with this conference using the analytical tools created by the founder of Implicit Religion, Professor Edward Bailey.

Bailey long argued that the value of engaging with and deconstructing such categories is far more apparent when one includes or focuses on aspects of so called secular experience that might reveal something of the nature of religion to us. Or, to use Wittgenstein’s language it might help us to better understand the pictures we use compared with the pictures and word games our research subjects are engaged in. To this end Edward Bailey suggested three areas for focus: commitment, integrating foci, and intensive concerns with extensive effects. These have been explored in a wide range of topics from art, shopping, Elvis fans, pilgrimage, Occupy protests, video games, Starbucks, punk rock, elective childlessness, animal rights, tattoos and sport.

We therefore welcome papers that focus in some regard on Bailey’s three tools, or on an area that might benefit from engaging with them. These could include, but are by no means limited to:

  • How do categories function as an artefact of power and social designation?
  • The sustainability of categories within the study of religion
  • Holistic approaches to the study of religion
  • Ethnography and Implicit Religion
  • Implicit Religion and the non-Western perspective / canon
  • Implicit and explicit acts of exogenous and endogenous appropriation
  • The (mis)use of religious practices, myths, and rituals in relation to gender and non-gender, race, class, disability etc.
  • ‘Religious’ meaning in ‘non-religious’ action
  • Locating the sacred in the profane (popular culture, materiality, businesses, law etc.)

This conference is open to all, but preference for presentation spaces will be given to students (undergraduate and postgraduate), early career academics, under-employed / precariously employed academics, independent scholars and scholars from under-represented groups within academia. It is not anticipated that these will be final papers, rather the purpose of the conference is to provide you with a secure and safe space to explore your ideas, gain guidance, suggestions and scaffolding to continue working on your paper from experienced Implicit Religion scholars.

There will be a dedicated panel for undergraduates to present at – called a scratch session. These will be shorter papers and rather than the usual practise of asking questions of the presenters, the audience will make suggestions for further reading, pathways for improvement, scholars to explore etc. Undergraduate students will also be given the opportunity to indicate if they wish to take a broader role within the conference in the form of chairing panels or making introductions of speakers.

The long term purpose of this conference approach is that some of the presenters will then travel to the UK to present at the annual international conference the following year and some will submit for peer review in the Journal of Implicit Religion. Undergraduate students who present will have the opportunity to attend the UK conference should they wish to do so, they will also have the opportunity to develop their paper into a peer reviewed and published blog for the Implicit Religion website (

Please submit your abstract by the 28th March 2019 using the form on the contacts page. You can submit the abstract in any style you want up to 400 words or its equivalent, but please indicate if you are an UG student as there is a dedicated panel for you. If you are an UG who wants to participate but is not ready to present a paper, then in the comments box let us know that.

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