Conversions and Life Passages through the Mirror of Medieval Preachers
Hospedería-Convento Santo Domingo in Caleruega (Spain)
17 July to 21 July 2020 Host
Linda G. Jones, Vice-President of the IMSSS
Linda G. Jones (Pompeu Fabra University) Bernard Hodel, O.P. (University of Fribourg) Oriol Catalán (Pompeu Fabra University) Adrienne Dupont-Hamy (Ph.D. Université Paris VII)
The past few decades have witnessed an extraordinary boom in the scholarship on inter- religious conversion. The old dichotomous models that privileged either the inner, subjective, affective, or psychological experience of the individual convert or the social, institutional, or ritual aspects of religious conversion have given way to more nuanced approaches that recognize not only that narratives of the experiences of individual converts must be historically and socially contextualized, but also that they play ideological and symbolic roles within society (Szpiech, 2013). Ideally, sociological and biographical or psychological perspectives should be combined since no one approach or discipline alone suffices to comprehend fully the phenomenon of conversion (Jindra, 2014). Conversion studies scholars have increasingly moved toward introducing comparative and global perspectives, acknowledging that the processes, experiences, and contributing factors of conversion differ from one religion to another, change over time or in response to inter-religious interactions, and are inflected by other factors such as gender, ethnicity, or social status (Fox & Yisraeli, 2017; Jindra, 2014; Rambo & Fardahian, 2014; Kimber Buell, 2005; Hames, 1995). Traditional images of passive converts and of conversion as a sudden radical change have given way to considering the convert as an active agent, and conversion as a lengthy process (Rambo & Fardahian, 2014). Finally, new themes have emerged as foci of study: alongside inter- religious conversion, scholars are paying more attention to phenomena such as intra- religious conversion, the intensification of one’s own faith tradition, forms of resistance to religious conversion, “deconversion,” and conversion as a transition from one life passage to another—as opposed to one religious tradition to another.