news top
Feb 12, 2018
The Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR), the Dutch Association for the Study of Religion (NGG), The Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion (NOSTER) in cooperation with the University of Erfurt Research Centre „Dynamics of Jewish Ritual Practices in Pluralistic Contexts from Antiquity to the Present“ are pleased to announce their joint conference on Interpreting Rituals: Historiographical Perspectives and Pluralistic Contexts, to be held on October 29-31, 2018 at Leiden University.

Conference 2015

 "Religion and the crisis of meaning"


Nijmegen, Radboud University, Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies


Thursday 29 – Friday 30 October 2015

Outline of the conference theme

The disappearance of the self-evidence of religious meaning making, summarized in the concept of the 'Crisis of Meaning’, illuminates the position of religion in contemporary Western society. Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann already observed this process two decades ago, putting it into words in their book Modernity, Pluralism and the Crisis of Meaning. The Orientation of Modern Man (Gütersloh 1995). Twenty years later, the 2015 Annual Meeting of the NGG focuses on the development of religion in the context of this ‘Crisis of Meaning’.


The ‘Crisis of Meaning’ manifests itself at the macro, meso, and micro level. At the macro level, it appears in the (controversial) position of religion in the public domain as well as in international relations. At the meso level, the changing role of religion is being felt in institutions, in education and the transmission of values, in health care, in the decrease of the churches, and in the emergence of new religious movements and spiritualities. The ‘Crisis of Meaning’ can neither be neglected at the micro level: contingency experiences, value orientations in individual biographies, crises such as dying, death and bereavement, and ‘situational meaning-making' all highlight its significance. The conference welcomes papers and panels that explore religious practices and beliefs against the background of this  ‘Crisis of Meaning’.


We invite proposals for papers and panels on Religion and the Crisis of Meaning from all theoretical perspectives within the study of religion. In addition, PhD and MA students are given the opportunity to present their ongoing research in a paper session that is not related to the conference theme. Deadline for all proposals has been extended till 1 July 2015. See detailed calls for papers and panels below.


Key note speakers

We are honoured to present two distinguished keynote speakers:


Prof. Dr. Douglas Davies (University of Durham, UK): The Crisis of Meaning in the Face of Death

Dr. Abby Day (University of Kent, UK): Religion, Identity, and the Crisis of Meaning: Farewell to Generation A.

Call for papers and panels

A. Call for individual papers

Each individual paper will be given a total of 30 minutes, i.e. 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion. We invite proposals from various disciplinary perspectives (the academic study of religion, sociology, anthropology, history, etc.) on the crisis of meaning. Topics can include (but are not restricted to):


-      The (controversial) position of religion in the public domain

-      Religion and international relations

-      The role of religion in institutions, as well as institutional religion (f.e. churches, education, health care systems, politics)

-      The transmission of values

-      Rituals and religious acts: ritual theory and ritual dynamics

-      The emergence of new religious movements and spiritualities

-      Practices, prescriptions and their alterations

-      Religious experience and the senses

-      Religion and material culture

-      Experiences of contingency and crises, such as dying, death and bereavement

-      Value orientations in individual biographies

-      ‘Situational meaning-making'

-      The methodology of studying religion in the context of the crisis of meaning


Candidates should submit both an abstract (of max. 150 words) for the programme book and a more detailed proposal (of max. 400 words). Deadline for submitting abstract and proposal for an individual paper is 1 July 2015. Abstracts and proposals should be emailed to Brenda Mathijssen (


B. Call for panels

Groups of scholars are invited to submit 3 to 5 papers on similar topics as one coherent panel (1.5–2 hours length, depending on the schedule). Panels should fit into the perspectives outlined above. Like individual papers, panel proposals are purely assessed on quality, which means no guarantees exist for acceptance of the entire panel.

Deadline for submitting a panel is 1 July 2015. When submitting a panel, please include in one document both individual abstracts and proposals for the papers (respectively max. 150 and 400 words), as well as a panel abstract (max. 150 words) for the programme book and a more detailed panel proposal (of max. 400 words). Abstracts and proposals should be emailed to Brenda Mathijssen (


C. Call for papers for off-theme PhD and MA student session(s)

PhD students are invited to propose papers for the perspectives outlined above. Additionally, both PhD students and MA students are cordially invited to submit a paper for a separate off-theme session. This can be a great opportunity for MA students to report on the results of their MA thesis and for PhD students to present some of their preliminary conclusions.

Each individual paper will be given a total of 30 minutes, i.e. 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion. Abstracts for papers for the off-theme session(s) (max. 150 words) together with a more detailed proposal (of max. 400 words) should be sent no later than 1 July 2015 to Brenda Mathijssen (


Practical Details


The Dutch Association for the Study of Religion (Nederlands Genootschap voor Godsdienstwetenschap) in cooperation with the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen.


Organising committee

Brenda Mathijssen MA (Radboud University Nijmegen), Prof. Dr. Peter Nissen (Radboud University Nijmegen), Prof. Dr. Kocku von Stuckrad (chair NGG, University of Groningen), Prof. Dr. Eric Venbrux (Radboud University Nijmegen), Dr. Claudia Venhorst (Radboud University Nijmegen), Prof. Dr. Frans Wijsen (Radboud University Nijmegen).



Radboud University Nijmegen. Plenary sessions in the Collegezalen Complex, parallel sessions in the Erasmus building.



29–30 October 2015. The conference will begin around 10.00 on Thursday the 29th and end around 16.00 on Friday the 30th.



Deadline for all proposals is 1 July 2015. Proposals should be sent to Brenda Mathijssen (



Registration costs are €70 for senior researchers, €40 for junior researchers. A €20 discount is available for NGG and NOSTER members, as well as for students. Registration includes coffee/tea breaks, the conference dinner on Thursday evening, and a lunch on Friday. Please check the website for updates and further information.



Accommodation can be found in various categories. We will announce different options soon.