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Call for applications, postdoctoral fellows, Utrecht

Call for Ph.D. Student Participants: Postsecular Publics at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Download call [pdf]

Ph.D. Students in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toronto are invited to submit proposals for the first meeting of the Postsecular Publics Working Group, a pioneering collaboration between the Jackman Humanities Institute at University of Toronto and the Centre for Humanities of the University of Utrecht. The first meeting will be held October 27-28, 2011 in Utrecht.

Participation requires:

  • attendance at the Utrecht meeting (travel and accommodation will be covered by the Postsecular Publics Working Group)
  • a five-page paper posted in advance of the meeting
  • active contribution to the group discussion
  • consistent attendance at future Working Group meetings held on the University of Toronto campus

The first meeting of the Postsecular Publics Working Group will focus on readings and responses to
Giovanna Borradori, Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jacques Derrida and Jürgen
Habermas, in which each participant introduces and reflects on her or his own work in light of the

The Postsecular Publics Working Group has identified three thematic clusters emerging from
engaging with this text:

  1. communication, mediation, and the public, which features prominently in Habermas;
  2. the issues of tolerance, hospitality and diversity that Derrida takes up; and
  3. the body and violence.

Each participant will situate her or his own research with respect to one or more of these larger themes and the roles they play in the text. Especially fruitful would be an emphasis on new relations and linkages between these fields.

Two Toronto Ph.D. students will be selected to participate in the Utrecht meeting, based on the
following criteria:

Two-page proposal outlining:

  • the relationship between the dissertation topic and the themes of the Postsecular Publics Working Group (please see below for detailed description)
  • the relevance of the themes of the first meeting for the dissertation research

Reference from Ph.D. Supervisor

  • (references will be requested only of students whose proposals are short-listed)

Proposals DUE: July 20, 2011
Please send to Prof. Pamela Klassen: p.klassen (at) utoronto.ca
We look forward to reading your proposals! If you have any questions, please contact Prof. Klassen.

Postsecular Publics

A Joint Working Group between the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto and the Centre for the Humanities, University of Utrecht

Bringing together faculty and students from the University of Toronto and the University of Utrecht, Postsecular Publics is a three-year working group focused on theories and methods for studying religion and public culture in transnational contexts. Based on face-to-face workshops and virtual conversations, the working group will draw together the research interests of its members to address questions of how religion intersects with postcolonial politics, cultural diversity, and policies and practices of multiculturalism in liberal democratic societies such as Canada and the Netherlands, as well as in less politically stable nation-states.

Postsecular Publics will bring about new perspectives on how religion interacts with the law in structuring citizenship and participation, on the role of media in generating new kinds of religious and secular identities, and on the significance of global migrations for transforming the public significance of religion. University of Toronto and Utrecht University hope that these perspectives will lead not only to new research perspectives and networks of students and faculty, but also to the development of innovative policies. Grounded practices and theories can providesustainable solutions to the political, cultural and religious challenges faced by liberal democratic societies today.

Proposed project strands:

  1. Establishment of a new network of research collaboration between the Jackman Humanities Institute at Toronto and the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht, starting with a focus on the postsecular and religion in the public sphere, a research interest shared by both institutions.
  2. Intensive research workshops between the two institutions that aim at developing the issues at handconcerning the intersection of postsecular and postcolonial politics both in terms of cultural formations and identities and of political challenges to existing understandings of liberal democracy and “western values”.
  3. Edited volumes on the postsecular and religion in the public sphere.
  4. Graduate student exchanges between the two institutions for students who want to develop their research and studies on these questions and who will benefit from the exchange.
  5. A workshop series rotating between the two institutions that begins with a focused, shared reading list, and moves to a discussion of members’ own research. (See proposal below.)
  6. Other developing possibilities: The institutions are keeping their options open in term of developments within the field and opportunities to enhance the network relation. This is a fast and vastly growing field and flexibility is crucial.

2011 Workshop Proposals

  1. Reading Philosophy in a Time of Terror Ten Years On: Fall 2011 (at UU)  The first workshop will focus on a shared reading of Philosophy in a Time of Terror, a book of interviews with Jacques Derrida and Jürgen Habermas, written in the wake of the destruction of the Twin Towers of World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Derrida and Habermas are two of the most important theorists of religion and politics, and their work continues to be generative for scholars working on the role of religion in a variety of public contexts. Taking their disagreements and convergences as our starting points for discussion, each member of the group will suggest a reading to pair with Philosophy in a Time of Terror, thus creating a joint reading list that will form the basis of the first workshop. At the workshop itself, members will each give a short presentation that ties their suggested readings to their own research, and generates further group discussion of how philosophical, anthropological, and religious studies readings of “postsecular publics” overlap and diverge.
  2. Comparative Postsecular Publics: Spring 2012 (at U of Toronto) The second workshop will be based on the presentation of original research papers from the working group members, including graduate student members. Working toward an edited volume with a set of robustly integrated papers, this workshop will encourage participants to build on the theoretical discussions and reading of the first workshop, as they bring the concept of postsecular publics to bear on their own areas of research expertise.

Initial prospective participants from the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto (a subset of these participants will travel to Utrecht in different years of the project, in year one, those with * will attend the Utrecht gathering):

Janice Boddy, Anthropology
*Simon Coleman, Religion
*Girish Daswani, Department of Social Sciences, UTSC/Anthropology
*Robert Gibbs, Philosophy, JHI Director
*Pamela Klassen, Religion
*Anna Korteweg, Sociology
Michael Lambek, Department of Social Sciences, UTSC/Anthropology
*Ruth Marshall, Political Science/Religion
Amira Mittermaier, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations/Religion
*Kevin O’Neill, Diaspora and Transnational Studies/Religion
Karen Ruffle, Historical Studies, UTM/Religion
*Ph.D. Students from Religion, Anthropology, Political Science, and other relevant units
Centre for the Humanities, Utrecht University
Potential Participants:
Rosi Braidotti, CfH Philosophy
Patrick Eisenlohr, Anthropology
Birgit Meyer, Religious Studies
Martijn Oosterbaan, Anthropology
Christoph Baumgartner, Religious Studies
Martha Frederiks, Religious Studies
Anne-Marie Korte, Religious Studies
Jolle Demmers, Conflict Studies
Eva Midden, Gender Studies

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