Plenary and Invited Speakers Include

Dan Sperber (Central European University)
Richard Sosis (University of Connecticut)
Deborah Kelemen (Boston University)
Maurice Bloch (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Call for proposals for papers

The emerging importance of the cognitive sciences in the 1960s and 1970s led to convergent trajectories in the human sciences that motivated the rise of cognitive studies of religion. Stewart Guthrie’s 1980 article “A Cognitive Theory of Religion” in Current Anthropology was the earliest such approach to accounting for religious phenomena. This was taken up in earnest by students of religion in the 1990s with the publication of Tom Lawson’s and Robert McCauley’s Rethinking Religion: Connecting the Cognition and Culture (1990) which effectively launched the “career” of the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR).

Since its origins, the field has undergone significant development in terms of size, methodology, and impact. In its infancy, CSR exclusively consisted of a small number of individual scholars from the humanities who borrowed scientific theories to interpret existing data, typically without much interaction with those working in other disciplines. Aided by the establishment of the first CSR centres over the last decade, this model began to shift rapidly. Younger generations of CSR scholars come from both the sciences and the humanities; they receive interdisciplinary training, thoroughly incorporating cognitive science into their empirical work already in the design phase; and publish their work in top journals across various disciplines.

The Planning Committee for the biennial meeting of the IACSR in Brno, Czech Republic decided to use the occasion for a “critical celebration” of the (unofficial) twenty-fifth anniversary of this new enterprise dedicated to seeking explanatory models for religious thought and behaviour.

Many of you have been enthusiastically engaged in the establishment of CSR as a new approach for understanding and explaining religion, and some have participated in the founding of research programs, institutional structures to support such programs, and journals and book series to disseminate the results achieved. Some have been more sceptical of this enterprise and have made significant contributions in critically evaluating its assumptions, methods, and results. This occasion is an opportune time to assess what was promised for this pursuit, what is currently being accomplished, what direction the field might/should be taking in the future, with responses from those critical of one or other of these claims from within and outside the CSR boundaries.

The conference will be hosted and sponsored by the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion (LEVYNA), the Czech Association for the Study of Religions and the Department for the Study of Religions at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, on June 20-22, 2014. We invite interested scholars and students to submit proposals for papers or posters for possible inclusion in the program. The language of the conference will be English only.

The “Call for Papers” includes the following themes:

  • What has the Cognitive Science of Religion accomplished?
  • What are the current research agendas likely to achieve?
  • What is the long-range future for the Cognitive Science of Religion?

In addition, we also encourage empirical papers representing the current state-of-the-art in CSR research. The conference will also include a poster session. All submissions for papers and posters will be peer-reviewed. Presentations should be no more than 20 minutes in duration + 10 minutes for questions and discussion.

All prospective participants (those who wish to present a paper/poster as well as those who do not) are kindly asked to register and submit their paper/poster proposals via this registration platform. The deadline for submission of papers and posters proposals is March 15, 2014. 

We look forward to seeing everyone in Brno this late spring,

Armin W. Geertz, President of the IACSR

Dimitris Xygalats, Director of Research at LEVYNA

Aleš Chalupa, Head of the Department for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University

Donald Wiebe, Director of the IASR