CfP: »Elusive Subjects«: Individual Secularizing Trajectories in 19th-century Europe (Event, 09/2020, Mainz); DL: 15.09.2019

Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz and University of Bologna (Web)

Venue: Mainz
Time: 30.09.-02.10.2020
Proposals by: 15.09.2019

„Who still believes in the myth of secularization?“ This was the question already posed in 1994 by José Casanova at the beginning of his book Public Religions in the Modern World. In a sense, this remains the point of departure for this conference, which, in tackling its subject, requires a preliminary working definition of »secularization«.

Secularization has been one of the most intensely debated issues in the humanities for at least five decades, certainly since Peter Berger’s pioneering work The Sacred Canopy (1967). There are arguments both for and against speaking of a process of secularization at all, and even those who accept the term debate what form it has taken and whether it involved a long-term, gradual decline or rather a sudden drop in the relevance of religion.

David Nash has rightly noted how this historical debate about secularization has been strongly shaped by the narrative built around the theory itself (2017). This narrative has turned secularization itself into an ideology, even a kind of faith, alternatively serving the agendas of its detractors and its defenders. Despite continuing division between the theory’s supporters and opponents, there is now consensus that the initial account of the secularization process – that is, »the progressive decline of religious beliefs and practices in the modern world« – is indeed reproducing a myth (Casanova, 1994). Nevertheless, this does not mean that the secularization theories employed throughout the years have to be discarded tout court. We can acknowledge that in modern societies the role of … read more and source (Web).