Conference: Religion, Nature & Culture

A new conference announcement:

"Religion, Nature, and Progress"
3rd International Conference of the
International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature & Culture (ISSRNC)
at the University of Amsterdam
23-26 July 2009

Conference Description and Thematic Focus

The intrinsic relation between ideas of progress and the impact that such progress has on ecosystems and natural environments is a central aspect of discussions about the ecological crisis. Notions of progress can take on quite different meanings, from economic progress to social improvements to progress in the natural sciences; religious discourses, too, often make use of metaphors of progress.

Usually, these discussions seem to imply that the concepts involved-- progress, nature, crisis, etc.--have a clear and simple meaning. Closer reflection, however, reveals that such concepts are themselves elements and products of a larger discourse, or worldview, that conceptualizes "nature" and the human relation with it in a particular way. Many underlying presumptions and evaluations have a long history in (western) culture, and often they are informed by religious views on the status of nature and humanity, views that vary widely and are often contradictory to one another. The western background of these concepts is apparent and should be the object of critical investigation.

This international conference addresses the critical intersections of religion, nature, and progress in a multidisciplinary way, in order to give insight into the different positions of these subjects both in history and vis-a-vis the current debates on climate change, environmental policy, and cultural development. It is increasingly acknowledged that religions and metaphysics, which inform worldviews and notions of progress, have played and still play an important role in these debates and that a clear understanding of them is indispensable for policies and practices striving to solve the environmental, climate, and
other crises. The overall theme provides a spectrum of subtopics and questions that can be engaged in a critical dialogue among various disciplines, such as the academic study of religion, history, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, the natural sciences, social sciences, economics, politics, architecture, urban planning, etc.

The conference will take place in Amsterdam, situated in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, facing many ecological challenges that ask for reflection and active response. The Netherlands have a long history of 'improving nature,' from protection against sea water to creating new land and learning to set up natural environments in highly populated spaces. The city of Amsterdam has committed itself to an ambitious plan of environmentally sustainable development. Therefore, the conference theme, although international and global in perspective, fits the conditions of this modern western well.

Information at: http://www.religionandnature.com/society/conferences.htm

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