The New School for Social Research’s Department of Sociology will hold its annual graduate student conference, “We Have Never Been Secular: Re-Thinking the Sacred,” in New York City on April 9, 2010. All are invited to submit paper proposals by February 12, 2010:

Two of the most salient signs of Western modernity, secularism and the rationalization of everyday life, are being increasingly called into question. The permanence of religious forms and practices in the political, social and cultural spheres, as well as the theological underpinnings of our conceptualizations of the state and society, have produced a rich body of debate that seeks to qualify secularism, illuminate its limits and recognize the fluid relation between the secular and the theological, between rationalization and ritual, between the mundane and the sacred.

The aim of this conference is to contribute to this ongoing academic discussion by illuminating the persistence, permanence and centrality of the sacred and challenge the construction of the sacred as a deviation from modern, rational and secular life.  For example, rather than asking why religiosity has disrupted the progression of secularism, we would like to explore continuities between the sacred and the political, including civic forms of religion, transcendental forms of political engagement as well as acts of resistance that are infused with the logic of sacrifice and religious beliefs. In so doing, we seek to contest those accounts that assume that there was a clear rupture between the secular and the sacred.

We encourage submissions from diverse disciplinary perspectives that address these and related themes:

  • -State, nation and modernity
  • -Politics of sacrifice, martyrdom and charisma
  • -Ritual in everyday life and environment
  • -Performativity, body and violence
  • -The experiential dimension of the sacred and phenomenology
  • -Role of sacred in approaches to social research

Those interested in participating should submit an abstract of no more than 300 words as an email attachment (PDF format preferred) by February 12, 2010 to the following address: