Seminar - Transnational Religious and Ideological Influences in Modern Central and Inner Asia

05.06.2015 - 2015-06-06

The seminar on ‘Transnational Religious and Ideological Influences in Modern Central and Inner Asia’, which will take place in Regensburg on 5-6 June 2015, is being organized by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands, and the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg, Germany, with the support of the International Unit for Central and Inner Asian Studies. The seminar takes place in the context of the IIAS program ‘Rethinking Asian Studies in a Global Context,’ which is sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, New York.

The Regensburg seminar will discuss the interconnectedness of socio-political processes in Central and Inner Asia with global ideological trends and the special impact of transnational religions on nation-building policies of Central Asian states and Mongolia, as well as social identities and people’s loyalties. In the region, various external and internal social actors compete for material and non-essential resources, while forming and framing ideological, religious and spiritual fields. On the one hand, despite the last 25-years’ post-socialist transformations, the meanings and symbols of socialism (in particularly the idea of social justice) retain their actuality against the social erosion that accompanied the neo-liberal reforms. On the other hand, the reformist trends in Islam, various Christian churches (next to those historically present in the region, such as the Russian Orthodox church) and New Age religions have found many followers since the end of the 1980s, sometimes institutionalized, but more often - challenged or prohibited by the states. The governments, officialdom and the national ideologues’ quests for the ‘purity of traditions’ found in ‘national religions’ (be it Buddhism or Islam) should be considered.  The seminar will also address the development of the broadly-diversified and commercialized sector of mystics, traditional healers and shamans (as existing in most Central and Inner Asian states), uncontrolled by the government. In addition, the seminar aims at looking how transnational communication and global socio-economic processes (as for instance, new media technologies, migration and informal trade networks) add to the development of religious and ideological fields.

During the seminar, we thus want to discuss interrelated themes:

  • Religions and ideologies in Central and Inner Asia in historical dynamics, social legacies of the twentieth century;
  • The competition for the ‘right’ Islam in Central Asia and its coexistence with the secular rhetoric of development declared by the states;
  • The spread of new Christian churches in Central Asian states and in Mongolia, their social implications and international relations;
  • The political role of Buddhism in present-day Mongolia, when assessed in the perspective of Mongolia’s foreign policy;
  • The impact of formal and informal labour migration on transnational religions (social role of Islam in the communities of Central Asian migrants in Russia);
  • The legacies of socialism and competition for its social meanings and spiritual symbols.

The Regensburg seminar follows up on another seminar, with the title ‘Knowledge Production and Knowledge Transfer in and on Central and Inner Asia’, which was held in Ulaanbaatar, on 5-6 August 2014 (for the report: http://rethinking.asia/report/knowledge-production-and-knowledge-transfer-and-central-and-inner-asia). In keeping with the aforementioned Mellon programme, the Regensburg seminar aims at strengthening a dialogue between American/European and Central/Inner Asian experts. The invited specialists are not only respected scholars in some aspect of Central/Inner Asian studies, but are cross-disciplinary and cross-area studies mediators, often with experience in managing or governing institutional settings where transnational collaboration is sought, but not always achieved. For comparative purposes, scholars with different regional expertise, in particular Eastern Europe, including Russia, are being invited as well. In doing so, we want to discuss, above all, following on the Ulaanbaatar seminar and on the basis of the themes outlined for the Regensburg meeting, the contemporary institutional obstacles and challenges posed towards a more integrated development of Central and Inner Asian Studies.

For more information on the contents of the Seminar, please contact:

Dr. Willem Vogelsang                                                 w.j.vogelsang@iias.nl

Dr. Irina Morozova             Irina.Morozova@geschichte.uni-regensburg.de

 

Please take into consideration that registration is obligatory to attend the sessions and is opened till 20 May 2015

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