The 4th Annual Meeting of the East Asian Society of Scientific Study of Religion (EASSSR)
Taipei, Taiwan (online or hybrid meeting)
August 13th to 14th, 2022
Religion and Spirituality in the Global East: Covid-19 Reflection and Civilizational Transformation
Religion and spirituality are two concepts that are highly related, entangled and elusively defined. Compared to their Western counterparts, scholars in the East, where religion is much less institutionalized, less authoritative, and more improvised in a bottom-up approach, have different experiences and opinions on the relationship between religion and spirituality. The continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic situation has made the practical implications of the so-called “spiritual turn” even more prominent. The bans on indoor or outdoor gatherings further sabotage traditional religious rituals, facilitating private or online individual pursuits of faith as well as innovative development of spirituality. Now, religious encounters at home or online rather than in churches, mosques, and temples become more common. The meditation on faith occurs individually without the presence of traditional religious authorities. Congregations are dwindling to separate tribes, where members connect to each other more loosely and sporadically than before. One may wonder if this widespread and continuous pandemic situation would change how and what faith is practiced in an irreversible way. Does the Covid-19 pandemic reshape the relationship between religious elites and laity and transform the ways of relating believers to faith? Do such changes occur in the same way in the East as in the West?
Moreover, another dimension of the significance of religion or spirituality is closely related to the critical situation of modern civilization threatened by numerous unprecedented risks such as climate change, resource depletion, nuclear weapons, social polarization, and inequalities. Techno-scientific and political solutions to these crises, indispensably correlated with the logic of human development, have been proposed but never led to practical transformation. The destiny of Homo sapiens’ civilization seems to be trapped in the myth of unlimited growth without any signs of transformation. Hence, many have turned to reconsider the significance of the “new” or “deep” dimension of religion or spirituality, seeking for “civilizational transformation” or “ecological civilization.” This dimension relates to such concepts as “transcendental breakthrough” or “transcendental sensitivity” embedded in the great religious traditions of the East and the West and well discussed by Karl Jaspers, who introduced the notion of “axial age.” Again, the emphasis is placed on religion and/or spirituality.
Therefore, we invite participants of the convention to reexamine the theme together: Religion and Spirituality in the Global East—Covid-19 Reflection and Civilizational Transformation. Any proposals aiming to examine the following sub-themes are highly welcomed:
- Religion and spirituality in history and modern times
- Spirituality in the Global East
- Definition and measurement of religion and spirituality
- Comparative analysis of religion and spirituality in different areas of the world
- Religious responses to the Covid-19 pandemic
- Faith after the outbreak of the Covid-19
- Spirituality and the Covid-19 situation
- Religion, spirituality and environmental changes
- Religion, spirituality and civilizational transformation
- Religion and spirituality in the Anthropocene
Keynote Speech “Values Are a New Religion” by Prof. Linda Woodhead (F. D. Maurice Professor, King’s College London)
Short film “Rituals, Temples, and Festivals: Experiencing the Sacred in Taiwanese Society”
You can download the program from the following link.
The 4th Annual Meeting of EASSSR Program (PDF: 1.67mb)