Implicit Religion is a set of analytical tools or axioms in relation to the study of religion, the definitions of concepts around religion and its supposed corollary the secular. The first of these is commitment, which we take as our theme for this year’s conference. We understand Commitment(s) to be that to which the person, group or community is committed (passionate about) to the level of being willing to make sacrifices in some regards for it.

Implicit Religion U.S Conference: “Commitment” will be held from 2-4th June on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The keynote will be delivered by Dr Kayla Wheeler. The Implicit Religion US Conference always includes a practical workshop intended to peel back the layers of different aspects of academic work. In 2020 the workshop will focus on the public communication of ideas and research which will be run by Dr. Kelly J. Baker and Dr. David Dault.

Implicit Religion does not attempt to assert that something is ‘merely appearing’ to be religious but was really ‘secular’, nor does it insist that something could be termed ‘religious’ by scholars regardless of what the participants thought. Instead it takes a particular interest in the ways in which people were expressing markers of faith, of belief, of ritual either towards or within parts of their everyday lives. What can we learn about categories of religion, the analytical study of religion or problems within the field of religious studies by focusing on commitment? 

Commitment in regards to religious belief is assumed to be well known and understood, but actually what data are we gathering and what are we missing or disregarding when we focus on religious commitment? How could we better analyse and understand religion if we took seriously the level and types of commitment that manifest around categories such as race, gender, immigration, xenophobia, and climate change? What would we learn about the nature and praxis of commitment by focusing on how it interacts with and is influenced by popular culture, social media, economics, policy making, politics and nationalism. 

We are asking for papers that engage with commitment. These might include but are not limited to:

  • How does a commitment to 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 through a focus on commitment in praxis
  • Commitment and and the non-Western perspective/canon
  • Implicit and explicit acts of exogenous and endogenous appropriation, and the commitment that underpins them
  • The role or appearance of commitment in relation to race / gender / immigration or climate change 
  • 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

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. 

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 annual Implicit Religion special edition. Support can also be provided for individuals who wish to work their presentation up into an article ready for peer review in a different journal. 

Please submit your abstract by the 15th March 2020, the form will become available in mid-January. You can submit the abstract in any style you want, up to 400 words or its equivalent, but please indicate if you are an undergraduate student as there is a dedicated panel for you. If you are an undergraduate who wants to participate but is not ready to present a paper, then in the comments box let us know and we will support you to chair panels and discussion. 

Please note that we are a small organisation and as such are unable to provide bursaries, travel grants or funds for visa applications. We can provide you with an official letter of invite and a subsequent letter of participation if your university or funding body requires it or if it is necessary for travel or visa requirements. If you are impacted by the travel ban to the USA, or if you wish to avoid travelling to the US as a means of protesting it, we understand that attending an academic conference is not worth the risks of being denied entry or return, being detained or deported, or losing immigration status. We respect stances of conscience. You are valued, wanted, and welcome and so we will work with you to ensure you can present via digital means.