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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 2016

Photo Gallery 

To get an impression of the conference, please visit the Photo Gallery.


Public Religions and Their Secrets, Secret Religions and Their Publics

The 2016 Autumn Conference of the Dutch Association for the Study of Religion (NGG), took place on Thursday 27 – Friday 28 October 2016, at the University of Amsterdam

You can find a review of the conference, written by Mattias Brand, PhD member of the NGG-board) here .


Outline of theme

Advocates of modernity and of secularization insist that religion is becoming increasingly individualized, a claim that in its most simplistic formulation presupposes religion’s absolute retreat from the public to the private sphere. By contrast, thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas have argued that even in modern societies, religion should be allowed to participate in public decision-making processes in so far as its claims can be "translated" into the (non-religious) language of public reason and become a basis for discussion and consensus between religious and non-religious persons. Furthermore, quite a few significant trends of contemporary religion, such as Pentecostalism, Islamic fundamentalism, and new forms of national or political religion, pose an empirical challenge to the modernity and secularization paradigms by demonstrating the continued presence of religion in the public sphere. Debates concerning public religion have mostly focused on post-Enlightenment, modern society, but the negotiation between a public and a private sphere has been a concern for religion even before the Enlightenment and in other contexts than modernity. This opens up the question of the role of secrecy within these processes of negotiation, both in terms of practices and of discourses. To what extent do practitioners of public religions keep aspects of their practices, doctrines, and material culture behind the veils of secrecy? What role does secrecy play in religious traditions? Is secrecy opposed to public aspects of religions, or is it complementary and functional to them? And what role do accusations of secrecy, double standards (for example the alleged taqiyya in the case of Muslims in the West) and conspiracy theories play in interpreting the religions of others?


We are honoured to announce Prof. Jan Assmann (Konstanz) and Dr. Gerdien Jonker (Erlangen) as the conference’s keynote speakers.



Practical Information

Registration for the NGG Conference on 'Public Religions and Their Secrets, Secret Religions and Their Publics' at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is now open. We are looking forward to a very interesting programme, with great keynote speakers and excellent sessions. 



Registration is open until the 1st of October 2016. You can register by sending an email with your name, position, and affiliation to Dorieke Molenaar ( and by transferring the registration fee to the bank account of the NGG (click here for payment details). The registration fee is €65 for senior researchers and €40 for researchers entitled to a concession (students, PhD candidates, researchers in-between jobs, and pensioners). NGG members pay a reduced fee of €25 (or €15 for participants entitled to a concession). NOSTER members can attend the conference for free, as their fees are covered by NOSTER funding. Registration includes coffee/tea breaks, drinks on Thursday, and lunch on Friday.


Conference dinner

If you would like to register for the conference dinner on Thursday 27 October 2016 as well, then please add a line to your registration e-mail, including any dietary requirements you might have. Dinner will take place at a restaurant in the Amsterdam city centre and will include a 3-course menu, 2 glasses of wine, water, and a coffee or tea. Costs are €50,- and can be transferred to the NGG’s bank account together with your registration fee.


Location and accommodation

The conference will take place at the University of Amsterdam's historical Bushuis building (address: Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam). The Bushuis is located close to Amsterdam Central Station and on walking distance from metro stations 'Nieuwmarkt' and 'Waterlooplein'. We kindly ask you to make your own arrangements regarding accommodation. Please be advised that due to the autumn holidays there will be a limited availability of hotel rooms in the city centre in the week of the conference. We therefore recommend you to book your hotel well in advance. 



You can find the conference programme here.

You can find the book of abstracts here.


The Board of the NGG and the organising committee at the University of Amsterdam would like to thank you for taking an interest in our conference. We are looking forward to seeing you in Amsterdam!


Should you have any further questions, then please do not hesitate to contact the organising committee by sending an e-mail to Dorieke Molenaar (