BASR’s 2014 conference takes place on September 3-5th, at the Open University in Milton Keynes. This year’s conference has two themes: “religion, art and performance” and “the cutting edge”. Both can be interpreted broadly.
Religion, art and performance
Religion is at least represented in artistic and dramatic ways. It has been argued that theatre began in religious rituals, that visual arts began as demonstrations of religious knowledges, and that literature arose from religious myth-telling. Perhaps pre-modern arts of all kinds were fundamentally religious. Contemporary religion has interesting relationships with art and performance: from the use of ritual-like acts on stage to the staging of religious rites to impact a wide public; from the portrayal of religious themes in art to the emerging emphasis on “religion as act” or “religioning” in recent scholarly theorising. Perhaps religion is a performative art. Is it still valid to distinguish ritual from drama on the grounds that the former involves only participants while the latter invites audiences? What difference does the display of religious acts or things in museums, galleries, theatres, heritage and tourist venues make? Ideas and questions like these (and there are many more) seem likely to enhance the value of the study of religions to interdisciplinary scholarship. Perhaps the study of religion could be improved by dialogue with scholars of art or performance, and/or vice versa. The BASR 2014 conference provides an opportunity to explore these and other questions and debates.
The cutting edge
Many BASR members also belong to scholarly associations for the study of specific religions or for the advancement of specific approaches to religion(s) (e.g. anthropology, philosophy, sociology and more). We hope various forms of cross-fertilisation will enrich the field of studies of religion.