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LUCSoR Annual Conference 2016: Compassion, Social Engagement, and Discontent: Believing and the Politics of Belonging in Europe Today

Thursday 10 November 2016 - Friday 11 November 2016
LUCSoR Annual Conference
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 2
2311 BZ Leiden
Thursday 10 November 2016: Leemans Room, National Museum of Antiquities, Rapenburg 28, Leiden. Friday 11 November 2016: Room 004, Matthias de Vrieshof 2, Leiden.

Organizer: Dr. Nathal M. Dessing, Leiden University Centre for the Study of Religion (LUCSoR)

photos by Vik Muniz
© Vik Muniz - Lampedusa c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2016

Conference theme

This LUCSoR conference aims to investigate forms and elements of religion in public settings and technologies of belonging in Europe today by taking compassion as a locus. We approach compassion not primarily as an emotion but as a social relation. Compassion may lead to social engagement, but also to the desire not to connect, to refuse engagement, or to turn away.

The conference is intended for scholars of religion of various disciplinary backgrounds interested in exploring new ways of studying religion in public settings.

The papers start from small stories or vignettes of:

1. Compassion and social engagement of religious community groups and individuals

These may vary from local-based initiatives of informal care and volunteer aid, to more institutionalized forms of aid provided by religious community groups, such as faith-based refugee work and social service agencies caring for the poor and homeless. The vignettes provide a window into forms and elements of religion today and the politics of belonging: who deserves compassion, who is excluded or undeserving, and what does the response toward suffering entail?

2. Discontent and anxiety about multiculturalism in everyday life

This category of papers engages with a relatively under-researched topic: the discontent of the “angry” citizen, who feels ignored by politicians, who, unlike the elites in their ivory tower, experiences daily what it means to live in a multicultural society, and who may express her- or himself in riotous protests against the resettlement of refugees. What values underlie their discontent? What makes them reject certain forms of compassionate action and choose others?

The focus of the conference is Europe today, but other times and other places also receive attention.


Thursday 10 November 2016
Venue: Leemans Room, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities), Rapenburg 28, Leiden

9–10.30 hrs
Session I: Setting the Tone


Introduction by Nathal Dessing


Amira Mittermaier, University of Toronto
KeynoteLecture: Provincializing Compassion

10.30-11 hrs

11-12.30 hrs
Session II: Other Places, Other Times

11.00      Terry Rey, Temple University
Civic Social Capital and Immigrant Religion: Lessons from Miami and Their Potential Relevance for European Religious Fields
11.30      Melissa Caldwell, University of California, Santa Cruz

Activating Faith: Compassionate Care and Social Justice in Russia

12.00      Anita Boele, Utrecht University

Charity, Compassion and Community

12.30-14 hrs

14-15.30 hrs
Session III: Religion and Humanitarianism

14.00      Jonathan Benthall, University College London

Humanitarianism as Ideology and Practice: Insights by Social-Cultural Anthropologists

14.30      Christopher B. Taylor, George Mason University

Islamic Charity in India: Anxiety and the ‘Gifts Not Given’ in Making Moral Community

15.00      Damla Isik, Regis University

The Intent to Give and Receive: Charitable Islam, Compassion and the Concept of Hak in Contemporary Turkey

15.30–16 hrs

16–17  hrs
Session IV: Christianity on the Move

16.00      Catherine Trundle, Victoria University of Wellington
The Art of Managing Proximity: Loving Thy Migrant Neighbour within Christian Charity Work in Florence, Italy


Friday 11 November 2016
Venue: Room 004, Matthias de Vrieshof 2, Leiden

9–10.30 hrs
Session V: Living Together

9.00      Lori Beaman, University of Ottawa
Deep Equality: Models of Living Well Together from Small Stories
9.30      Annemarike Stremmelaar, Leiden University
“Let’s Not Compete in Suffering!” Compassion, Engagement and Belonging
10.00      Ernst van den Hemel, Utrecht University
Quantifying Populist Belief: Judeo-Christianity, Judaism in PVV Discourse

10.30–11 hrs

11–12.30 hrs
Session VI: Volunteering and Piety among Muslims in Europe

11.00      Thijl Sunier, VU University Amsterdam
Virtuous Compassion or Parallel Society?
11.30      Merve Reyhan Kayıkcı, KU Leuven
‘Taking Care of’ the Other, Cultivating the Self: The Ethics of Social Interaction
12.00      Yağiz Cebecioğlu, VU University Amsterdam
Charity as a Way of Civic Engagement for Ordinary Muslims in Europe

12.30–14 hrs

14–15.30 hrs
Session VII: Charity and the City

14.00      Mieke Groeninck, KU Leuven
Hardship as Opportunity
14.30      Anna Sofia Salonen, University of Helsinki
Food for the Soul or the Soul for Food? Charitable Food Assistance at the Interface between Food Recipients and Religious Organizations
15.00      Miranda Klaver, VU University Amsterdam

Neo-Pentecostal Global Networks and Politics of Compassion for the City: The Case of Hillsong Church Amsterdam

15.30–16 hrs

16–17 hrs
Session VIII: When We Get Old

16.00      Abby Day, Goldsmiths, University of London
Old Ladies and Their Belief in Belonging
16.30      The End?


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