Conference "Dark Green Religion in Europe: History and Impacts, Dangers and Prospects"
25 – 27 April, 2024
Leibniz-Institute of European History Mainz, Germany
Deadline for application is 15 October 2023.
The conference seeks to convene scholars interested in the emergence, spread, dangers, and future prospects of green spiritualities in European societies since the 18th century, in which nature is considered sacred and the living world due reverent care. It is co-organized by Bernhard Gissibl (IEG Mainz), Kate Rigby (MESH University of Cologne), & Bron Taylor (University of Florida).
Interested scholars are invited to submit, by 15 October 2023, abstracts of between 500 and 800 words, a list of key, relevant references, and a short CV, to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Authors of accepted papers will be informed by 1 November 2023. We anticipate being able to cover on-site expenses as well as modest funds toward travel expenses for those invited to participate. We expect participants to subsequently develop their papers into full-length articles with the goal of contributing to a special issue of a scholarly journal and/or edited book arising from the conference.
Many cultures across the world inherit religious traditions according to which nature is considered in some sense holy or sacred. With the rise of industrialization from the late 18th century, and especially in the face of its adverse impacts, such traditions of earth-honoring have been recuperated and re-imagined, whilst new forms of ecospirituality, often informed by the natural sciences, have been emerging. In Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future (University of California Press 2010), US-American religious studies scholar Bron Taylor provocatively dubbed certain nature-based spiritualities “dark green religion.” Those who have affinity with such spiritualities typically stress ecological interdependence, have deep feelings of belonging and connection to nature, and share beliefs that the biosphere is a sacred, Gaia-like superorganism. Those with such worldviews generally draw on evolutionary and ecological understandings, and stress kinship with non-human organisms. These spiritualities also often have animistic dimensions, in which communication with non-human organisms is thought possible. Consequently, these ‘otherkind’ are considered to have intrinsic value and they should be accorded respect, if not also reverence.
As Taylor has shown, such spiritualities have been spreading globally during the twentieth century, and they are exercising increasing political and cultural influence, as evidenced, for example, in a wealth of films, art and science museums and exhibitions, popular culture productions, as well as in the motivations of social movements actors, and the quest for laws that attribute legal rights to nature. Notwithstanding the actual or purported ‘greening’ of the major world religions over recent decades, significant environmental mobilization might, therefore, arise from those who are finding meaningful worldviews and spiritual inspiration in practices or attitudes that cohere with or are directly rooted in the sciences.
Through this work, Taylor made visible some of the most important trajectories and the pervasiveness of dark green thinking and spiritualities, thereby opening up a vast field of analysis that has the potential to transform the ways in which we understand both environmentalism and religion. Asking how the scientific engagement with nature has evoked feelings of awe, connectedness, wonder, and reverence, examining the ways that environmentalists, consciously and unconsciously, have appropriated elements of Christian and other religions, and exploring the religious dimensions of environmentalism, allows us to question inherited understandings of ‘science’ and ‘belief’, as well as the supposed boundary between the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’. The conference deliberately centres on European societies, along with the complicated transnational entanglements and colonial inheritances entailed in the emergence of such spiritualities.
Specifically and especially (but not exclusively) we seek presentations that illuminate: