Sociologia della Religione

Shaping and Defining the Notion of “Religion”

Shaping and Defining the Notion of “Religion”

Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni”


Shaping and Defining the Notion of “Religion”

July 12-13-14-15-16 2016
Velletri (Rome)
Call for Papers

Our conference aims to provide an occasion of reflection and interdisciplinary discussion about the concept of religion and the notions related to this topic. The aim of this meeting is to investigate the shaping and the development of the notion of religion in western thought. We plan to research and analyze the various ways in which specialized literature posed the concept of religion as the object of study, together with the phenomena that have been attributed to such concept and the properties that have been deemed peculiar to this sphere, according to the views and positions of each single scholar. We will pay attention to the aims these scholars had, the classifications and theories they elaborated and the historical context they worked in.

Papers submitted may deal with the following topics:

  1. The meaning and development of the Latin word religio as it emerges from the sources at our disposal.
  2. The study of the terms in extra-European cultures usually deemed to indicate specifically the religious sphere, as dharma, din etc. Analysis of their meanings and historical  development, based on the sources at our disposal
  3. How did historical religions obtain their current denomination? How has this denomination been interpreted?
  4. How did western thought and in particular specialized studies approach the possibility of:
    • defining the concept of religion.
    • finding the characteristics that define a religious experience as such.
    • identifying the characteristics that qualify a religious individual as such.
    • idefining which peculiar traits of a religious group are elements that qualify it as such.
    • idefining the notion of “folk religion”.
    • describing and differentiating “sacred” and “profane”.
  5. What are the peculiarity of religions “invented” by scholars, e.g., animism, manism, shamanism etc.? What are the theoretical backgrounds for creating those categories?
  6.  Birth and development of the classification of religions, e.g. “monotheism” and “polytheism”.

References: M. Eliade, Traité d’histoire des religions, Paris 1949; E. de Martino, Furore Simbolo Valore, Milano 1962; C. Lévi-Strauss, La pensée sauvage, Paris 1962; A. Brelich, Introduzione alla
storia delle religioni, Roma 1966; T. Luckmann, The Invisible Religion: The Transformation of Symbols in Industrial Society, New York 1967; P. Bourdieu, Genèse et structure du champ religieux, “Revue française de sociologie” 12 (3), 1971, pp. 295-334; C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, New York 1973; Th.P. van Baaren – H.W.J. Drijvers (eds.), Religion, Culture and Methodology. Papers of the Groningen Working-group for the Study of Fundamental Problems and Methods of Science of Religion, Paris 1973; J.Z. Smith, Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown, Chicago-London 1982; B. Morris, Anthropological Studies of Religion, Cambridge 1990; D. Sabbatucci, Sommario di storia delle religioni, Roma 1991; E.T. Lawson – R.N. McCauley, Rethinking Religion. Connecting Cognition and Culture, Cambridge 1993; T. Asad, Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam, London 1993; U. Bianchi (ed.), The Notion of “Religion” in Comparative Research. Selected Proceedings of the XVI IAHR Congress, Rome 1994; T. Fitzgerald, A Critique of ‘Religion’ as a Cross-Cultural Category, “Method and Theory in the Study of Religion” 9 (2), 1997, pp. 91-110; A. Simonicca – F. Dei, Simbolo e teoria nell’antropologia religiosa, Lecce 1998; D. Sabbatucci, La prospettiva storico-religiosa, Formello (RM) 2000; M. Nye, Religion, Post-Religionism, and Religioning: Religious Studies and Contemporary Cultural Debates, “Method and Theory in the Study of Religion” 12, 2000, pp. 447-476; W. Braun – R.T. McCutheon (eds.), Guide to the Study of Religion, New York 2000; P. Boyer, Et l’homme créa les dieux, Paris 2001; A.L. Greil – D.G. Bromley (eds.), Defining Religion: Investigating the Boundaries between the Sacred and Secular, Oxford 2003; J. Corrigan, Religion and Emotion. Approaches and Interpretations, Oxford-New York 2004; G. Filoramo, Che cos’è la religione. Temi metodi problemi, Torino 2004; M. Stausberg (ed.), Contemporary Theories of Religion: a Companion, London 2009; P. Scarpi, Si fa presto a dire Dio. Riflessioni per un multiculturalismo religioso, Milano 2010; L. Berzano – A. Castegnaro – E. Pace, Religiosità popolare nella società post-secolare. Nuovi approcci teorici e nuovi campi di ricerca, Padova 2014; E. Pace, Una religiosità senza religioni. Spirito, mente e corpo nella cultura olistica contemporanea, Napoli 2015.

Our conference will be structured in the following sections:
1. Religious Anthropology (coordinator/supervisor Alessandra Ciattini – Sapienza Università di
2. Philosophy of Religion (coordinator Paolo Vinci – Sapienza Università di Roma)
3. Sociology of Religion (coordinator Enzo Pace – Università degli Studi di Padova)
4. History of Religions (coordinator Paolo Scarpi – Università degli Studi di Padova)

Administrative office: Igor Baglioni (Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni”)

Please send a one-page abstract (max 2.000 characters) to Igor Baglioni, the director of the museum, ( by April 15.
Attached to the abstract should be: the title of the paper; the chosen area; a short biography of the authors; email address and phone number.

Papers may be written and presented in English, French, Italian and Spanish.

The acceptance of papers will be communicated only to the selected contributors by 2016, April 25.

Please send the complete paper not later than June 26. The delivery of the paper is required to
participate in the conference.

Important deadlines: Closing for call for papers: April 15th, 2016.
Admission: April 25th, 2016.
Delivery of paper: June 26th, 2016.
Conference: July 12-13-14-15-16th, 2016

There is no attendance fee. The participants who don’t live in Rome or surroundings will be accommodated in hotels and bed-and-breakfasts which have an agreement with the Museum of
Religions Raffaele Pettazzoni to offer discounted prices. Papers will be published on Religio. Collana di Studi del Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni” (Edizioni Quasar), and in specialized journals. All the papers will be peer-reviewed. The conference will be associated to the cultural event “Castelli Romani. Mito, Religioni e Tradizioni Eno-Gastronomiche” organized by the Fondazione “Museo delle Religioni Raffaele Pettazzoni”. The town of Albano Laziale, Ariccia, Artena, Castelgandolfo, Genzano, Lanuvio, Lariano, Monte Porzio Catone, Nemi, Rocca di Papa and Velletri also patronize the event.

The conference participants are offered the opportunity to visit each evening one of these towns and participate in the cultural activities organized in occasion of the cultural exhibition for free. The excursion programme will be presented at the same time as the conference programme.

For information: email: