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Keynote speakers

Prof. Milda Alisauskiene (Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania)

Milda Ališauskienė is professor at the Department of Political Science at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania. Her research interests include religion and politics in the post-socialist society, religious diversity, religious fundamentalism and new religions. She has published more than 20 scientific articles on religion in contemporary Lithuania and the Baltic States and contributed to collective monographs and studies on social exclusion of minority religions and on the process of secularization in Lithuania. In 2011 she co-edited a volume “Religious Diversity in Post-Soviet Society” (Ashgate). In 2016 she was a visiting Fulbright scholar at the University of California in Santa Barbara Department of Religious Studies. In 2017 she was a guest editor of the special issue of the journal Nova Religio: Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions about new religions in Eastern Europe. In 2015-2017 M. Ališauskienė served as a president for International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR). In 2014-2018 she served as general secretary for International Study of Religion in Eastern and Central Europe Association (ISORECEA). Since 2015 she is a member of the executive board of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR). Since 2018 she is a member of the board of International Sociological Association Research Committee of Sociology of Religion (RC22).

Keynote Address Title: Religion on the Periphery in Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall: Diversity, Pluralism and Everyday Life

Abstract: Decades of being vanished from public life and thirty years after the fall of Berlin wall religion in Central and Eastern Europe has gone through transitions that influenced its development, relations with society, place and role in the society. Religion in contemporary societies of Central and Eastern Europe manifests in a wide range of forms. What distinguishes the region is the centrality of Christianity and the role of Christian churches – Roman Catholic or Orthodox – in the nation building processes and contemporary religion-state relations. The centrality of Christianity in CEE leaves other religious traditions of the periphery of public life. The research into religious discrimination in the region shows that Christian minority religions are discriminated most (Fox 2016). The idea of religious pluralism in the region seems to be a challenge for society, states and religions. What development has been in the region with regard of centrality of „national churches“ (Barker 1997) and their relations with other religious traditions and worldviews? In the first part of the lecture I will discuss the concept of periphery and its application for religion in CEE. This discussion will be followed by the discussion of developments in the religious diversity, religious pluralism and everyday practices since the fall of the Berlin Wall. As empirical background for the lecture will serve my research into religious discrimination among minority religions, religious LGBT and non-religious individuals.

Dr. Jonathan Lanman (Queen’s University Belfast, UK)

Jonathan Lanman’s research addresses two main areas in the scientific study of religion. Across both areas, he aims to integrate theories and methodologies from the social, cognitive, and evolutionary sciences with ethnographic and historical research. While his geographic area of interest is international, his work has focused on the North Atlantic world and, more recently, Japan.
His work on atheism and secularization aims to provide an account of why some individuals become theists and others become non-theists, why some nations have much higher proportions of non-theists than others, and why some non-theists engage in anti-religious social action. This research engages literature on cognitive biases, existential security, hypocrisy, threat detection, coalitionary psychology, and moral psychology and focuses on the United States, United Kingdom, and Scandinavia.
In collaboration with Lois Lee (UCL), Stephen Bullivant (St. Mary’s), and Miguel Farias (Coventry), he is continuing this research as a PI on a John Templeton Funded grant entitled “Understanding Unbelief” (£2.3m, 2017-2020), an international, and interdisciplinary programme of research on ‘unbelief’ around the world.
Dr. Lanman’s collaborative work on religious identity, ritual, and self-sacrifice aims to provide an account of the nature and catalysts of religious cohesion and the relative contributions of belief, ritual, values, and identity in explaining individual willingness to die for a religious group. This research engages literature on belief, ritual, memory, identity fusion, psychological kinship, sacred values, and martyrdom and is international with a focus on the United States and Europe.
In collaboration with Harvey Whitehouse (Oxford), William Swann (Texas), Michael Buhrmester (Oxford/Texas), and others, he has contributed to this research as part of a £3.2m project funded by the ESRC entitled Ritual, Community, and Conflict (2011-2017).
Dr. Lanman is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Assistant Director of the Institute of Cognition & Culture at Queen’s University Belfast.

Keynote Address Title: Who wants to be the centre of attention? From ‘centres and peripheries’ to interdisciplinary collaboration in the study of religion and its others

Abstract: To discuss centres and peripheries in religion and its study is to employ a powerful conceptual metaphor, and the meanings we glean from the use of this metaphor rely heavily on our evolved cognitive architecture.  Yet, one will observe that the cognitive study of religion lies more on the metaphorical periphery of the academy than at its centre. Some will argue that this is very much where it belongs. Other, more enthusiastic scholars may claim that cognition (broadly defined) should be placed at the very heart of the study of all things human, including religion.
My argument will be that the language of centres and peripheries, while useful in describing inequalities, discrimination, and coalitionary dynamics, is less useful as a vision for how we might best work together to improve our understanding of religion, nonreligion, and human life. Based on my collaborative research in the cognitive science of religion and atheism, I will discuss two meta-theoretical strategies of science-humanities collaboration that aim to provide benefit for all involved parties.  The first is Lawson & McCauley’s Interactionism model of interpretation and explanation.  The second is Harvey Whitehouse and I’s use of Tinbergen’s 4 Questions in establishing a multi-disciplinary, holistic explanatory framework for human thought and action.   I will then move from meta-theory to practice and methodology, describing how a team of sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and scholars of religion have worked together on the Understanding Unbelief programme (2017-2020) to try to avoid establishing a ‘centre-periphery’ relationship among our representative disciplines, methods, and questions and how this has benefited our research.

Preliminary program

14th ISORECEA conference / Olomouc, Czech Republic, 23–25 April 2020

Thursday 23 April 2020
12.00 → Registration
13.00 – 15.00 ISORECEA Board meeting
15.10 – 15.30 Opening ceremony
15.30 – 16.45 Plenary session I : Keynote lecture
16.45 – 17.15 coffee/tee
17.15 – 19.00 Parallel session 1A Parallel session 1B Parallel session 1C Parallel session 1D
19.00 – 20.30 Welcome reception


Friday 24 April 2020
Room A Room B Room C Room D
09.00 – 10.15 Plenary session II : Keynote lecture
10.15 – 10.45 coffee/tee
10.45 – 12.30 Parallel session 2A Parallel session 2B Parallel session 2C Parallel session 2D
12.30 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 15.45 Parallel session 3A Parallel session 3B Parallel session 3C Parallel session 3D
15.45 – 16.15 coffee/tee
16.15 – 18.00 Parallel session 4A Parallel session 4B Parallel session 4C Parallel session 4D
18.15 – 19.15 ISORECEA General Assembly


Saturday 25 April 2020
Room A Room B Room C Room D
09.00 – 10.15 Plenary session III : Book presentation (roundtable discussion)
10.15 – 10.45 coffee/tee
10.45 – 12.30 Parallel session 5A Parallel session 5B Parallel session 5C Parallel session 5D
12.30 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 15.45 Parallel session 6A Parallel session 6B Parallel session 6C Parallel session 6D
15.45 – 16.15 coffee/tee
16.15 – 17.45 Plenary session IV: For the history of ISORECEA (roundtable discussion)
17.45 – 18.00 Closing of the conference
19.00 → Farewell dinner

Palacký University Conference Services
Biskupské náměstí 1
779 00 Olomouc

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