For decades, social scientific study of religion has been dominated by the secularisation question: is religion growing or declining? But this has distracted us from asking how religion itself is changing and, in turn, changing understandings of identity, political participation and citizenship for millions of people around the world.
In many countries religion is being fused with populist politics and becoming an important component in new nationalisms such as in Russia and India where Orthodox Christian and Hindu Nationalists discourse have taken on new importance. In other places it is being mobilised as a source of resistance to state oppression or corporate exploitation. Are these more political expressions of religion less grounded in personal piety and community practice, reflecting a different kind of secularisation – the loss of transcendence? Is religion in today’s world more politicised, more tribal, and less spiritual? Or are we in fact in a post-secular era where spiritual impulses are changing our understanding of ‘secular’ politics?
Meet our speakers and chair
Mukulika Banerjee (@MukulikaB) was inaugural Director of the LSE South Asia Centre from 2015-2020 and is Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics. She studied in Delhi and Oxford universities and taught at Oxford and UCL before joining LSE. Her books include Why India Votes? (2014), The Pathan Unarmed (2001) and The Sari (2003, with Daniel Miller) and edited Muslim Portraits (2007). Her latest monograph is Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India (2021) published by OUP, New York.
John Casson (@JohnCassonUK) is a former British diplomat, who served as the British Ambassador to Egypt from 2014 to 2018. His career has had a strong focus on the Arab world, including as Deputy Ambassador in Jordan, as Head of the FCO’s Near East and North Africa Department, and from 2010 to 2014 he was David Cameron’s foreign policy lead at Number 10. He now leads the L'Arche UK, a network of communities where people with and without learning disabilities share life, homes, friendship and spirituality together.
Georgette Bennett is an award-winning sociologist, widely published author, popular lecturer, and former broadcast journalist. She is Chair and founder of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees and President and founder of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. She is also a co-founder of the Global Covenant of Religions/Global Covenant Partners, and served in the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy initiative’s working group on conflict mitigation. A TED mainstage speaker, she is a winner of the prestigious AARP Purpose Prize and is designated as one of Forbes 50 Over 50 Women of Impact. Her two most recent books are Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By: How One Woman Confronted the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time, and co-authored with Nobel Prize Co-recipient, Jerry White, Religicide: Confronting the Roots of Anti-Religious Violence.
Erin K. Wilson (@ek_wilson) is Professor and Chair of Politics and Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She recently published Religion and World Politics: Connecting Theory with Practice (2022). Her current research focuses on the nature of hope in relation to contemporary global political challenges, including climate change and mass displacement
James Walters (@LSEChaplain) is the founding director of LSE Faith Centre and LSE Religion and Global Society. He is a professor in practice in the LSE Department of International Relations and work at the intersection of theology, religion, politics and conflict. He has authored several books including Loving your Neighbour in an Age of Religious Conflict (2019) and is a priest in the Church of England.
More about this event
This event is part of the LSE Festival: People and Change running from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 June 2023, with a series of events exploring how change affects people and how people effect change. Booking for all Festival events will open on Monday 15 May.
Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEFestival
Podcast and video
A podcast of this event is available to download from The Changing Nature of Religion in Today's World.
Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.