The Implicit Religion USA conference is intended to act as a scaffolding to build the capacity of emerging students and scholars as well as an environment in which marginalised scholars can present and develop their work with rigour and purpose. It is a space where people can explore and consider what adding Implicit Religion to their individual ethnographic projects or as a methodological tool could add to the outcome, data, methods, or findings. Delegates attending the USA conference are able to present their work, engage in conversation and then tell us how best they can be supported through further mentoring, resources or opportunities. This is the beginning of a much wider Implicit Religion community, founded on, but expanding the work began by Edward Bailey.
Implicit Religion was intended to create a new approach to the study of religion. It took seriously the behaviours, beliefs, attitudes and actions of the individuals and communities at the place where they are. It did not attempt to assert that something was ‘merely appearing’ to be religious but was really ‘secular’, nor did it insist that something could be termed ‘religious’ by scholars regardless of what the participants thought. The specific nature of implicit religion lies in the attempt to override prejudices and stereotypes with the mechanism of forced repetition, so as to understand life and the world as experienced by people in the process of living. Thus it is necessary to go beyond such common schemes as the identification of the religious with churches, sects, and institutions, or the dichotomy of secular and sacred, as well the antonyms visible and invisible, sacred and profane.
Implicit Religion takes a particular interest in the ways in which people are expressing markers of faith, of belief, of ritual either towards or within parts of their everyday lives. Therefore, it takes seriously, on its own terms, the pilgrimage that people take to Graceland, the rise of the church of Jedi, the meaning and salvation found within punk rock, animal rights activism and the growth of veganism, the statement “football is my religion”, the global occupy protests or the way knitting as a form of self-care and community gives rise to deeper meaning and purpose for the knitters. We are also interested in considering how the analytical tools of Implicit Religion could be helpfully applied to analysis of discourse of power, mutating forms of white supremacy, the means by which the study of religion has become dominated by specific confessional approaches or (unaware) attempts to Christianise studies that focus on alternative ways of being such as resistance to co-option, rejection of capitalism, the MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter and narratives about disability.
Implicit Religion is a set of analytical tools or axioms in relation to the study of religion, the definitions of concepts around religion and its supposed corollary the secular. The first of these is commitment, which we take as our theme for this year’s conference. We understand Commitment(s) to be that to which the person, group or community is committed to the level of being willing to make sacrifices in some regards for it.Implicit Religion does not attempt to assert that something is ‘merely appearing’ to be religious but was really ‘secular’, nor does it insist that something could be termed ‘religious’ by scholars regardless of what the participants thought. Instead it takes a particular interest in the ways in which people were expressing markers of faith, of belief, of ritual either towards or within parts of their everyday lives. What can we learn about categories of religion, the analytical study of religion or problems within the field of religious studies by focusing on commitment? Commitment related religious belief is assumed to be well known and understood, but what data are we actually gathering and what are we missing or disregarding when we focus on religious commitment? How could we better analyse and understand religion if we took seriously the level and types of commitment that manifest around categories such as race, gender, immigration, xenophobia, homophobia, ableism and climate change? What would we learn about the nature and praxis of commitment by focusing on how it interacts with and is influenced by popular culture, social media, economics, policy making, politics and nationalism?
Dr Hadiza Kere Abdulrahman, Implicit Religion -US Keynote
'Acts of Malamta': Former Almajirai of Northern Nigeria navigating the paradoxes of their 'everyday'.
Amanda Furiasse & Sher Afghan Tareen, “Charting the Flow of Mana: Urban Revivalism as Food Security”
Louella Moore, “The Bread & Roses Strike of 1912: Silence of Accounting Discourse through the Lens of Implicit Religion.”
George González, “The Psychic Life of Consumer Power”
Luke Li, “Karl Barth & Mou Zonsgson: Religious Commitment & Political Responsibility in Crises.”
Alina Williams, “Freedom Passed to Us: Affect and Religion-Like in the Estonian Singing Revolution.”
Samuel Yates, “The Non-Sacred Canopy: Non-Religious Identification and Covid 19”
Phoebe Miller, “Markdown Elegies: Technologies of the Identarian Self in the Ambivalent Internet”
Octavio Carrassco, “A BorderLands Imperative: Mestizaje as Implicit Religion in America”
Morgan Barbre, “Everything would be Psychedelic and Holy: Birth, Borderland & Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery”
Greg Soden, Podcasting as pedagogy and Classical Ideas
Francis Stewart, “Crip Punk and the Freak Status: experiences of disability within punk commitments”
The first ever USA based Implicit Religion Conference was held at Monmouth University in New Jersey from the 3 -5th June 2019. It was based around a question rather than a theme, which was, Implicit Religion: What Might That Be? It was created to be a space in which students, early career scholars and marginalised scholars could present work in progress and receive feedback and structured, focused support to develop it further. The emphasis was on conversations about what we mean when we talk about these contested terms can happen, where people can explore and consider what adding Implicit Religion to their individual ethnographic projects or as a methodological tool could add to the outcome, data, methods, or findings.
Dr Elayne Oliphant, New York University, provided the keynote which was titled “The Implicit, the Banal and the Hyper-Visible: Xenophobia and the Inequalities of Public Religious Life”
Professor S. Brent Plate, Hamilton College, provided an interactive workshop on “Getting Published in Academia”
Dr Francis Stewart, Bishop Grosseteste University, provided a model on how to use Implicit Religion during fieldwork analysis in “This is [not] the ALF: Implicit Religion, Punk Rock and Animal Activism.”
The conference featured papers by:
Dr George González, Baruch College, “Implicit Religion, Capitalism and the Urban”
Bonnie Carroll, Middle Tennessee State University “Crossing and Dwelling via College Activism”
John G. Grisafi, Yale University “A Laissez Faire Policy? Defining and Categorising Religion in Occupied South Korea.”
Dr Ann Duncan, Goucher College, “The Sacred Living Movement: Implicit Religion and the Challenge of Cultural Appropriation.”
Dr Michael Oliver, Oxford University “Confessions of a White Devil: Interrogating the Implications of Religion and Racism.”
Lucy Spoliar, University of Groningen, “Implicit Religion, Satire and British Television.”
Morgan Barbre, North Carolina State University, “Implicit Religion and Birth Narratives.”
Jae Geffken, Middle Tennessee State University, “The Misfortunes: Tabletop RPGs as Implicit Religion.”
Michael Beil, Independent scholar “Who’s really Catholic anyway? The cosmology of pre-conciliar Catholicism and its “inner-universe of meaning”
Dr Octavio Carrasco, Union Theological Seminary, “Restive Spirits, Seeking Release: The Religious Dimensions of The Grateful Dead.”
“At its core, Implicit Religion is an analytical tool that coalesces around three criteria;
commitment, integrating foci, and intensive concerns with extensive effects.”
“Viewing religious meaning systems from the broader perspective of implicit religion
opens the door to considering a variety of implicit-religious topics as meaning systems
and examining their functioning in both everyday life and in times of crisis.”
“What the perspectives of implicit religion and post-modern analysis both highlight, with
amazing eloquence, is the explosion of religion into an incredible fragmentation of
crystallizations that are more or less volatile, and more or less shared.”
“Culture, religion, society and its attendant expressions is not static, but rather continually evolves, adapts and renegotiates itself.... how we understand those varying elements of organisation, structure and expression must equally continue to develop… Implicit Religion is one such important step in the methodology of doing so.”
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