Religious Studies Opportunities Digest – 24 October 2017

Welcome to the latest RSP opportunities digest, where you will find details of 3 jobs and 2 potential conference panels

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Buddhist Digital Resource Center

2 positions: Archive Engineer and Full Stack Developer

More information:!footer/news/20170918

University of Nottingham

Teaching on Module ‘Belief, Spirituality, and Religion’

Deadline: 10 November 2017

More information (PDF)

EASR Conference Panels

Giulia Pedrucci – Multiple religious and maternal identities: othermothers, self-conceptions, conformity and non-conformity

Dr Florence Pasche Guignard and myself will be submitting a proposal for a session at the next EASR conference in Bern (June 17-21,  2018). Entitled “Multiple religious and maternal identities: othermothers, self-conceptions, conformity and non-conformity,” this session will consist in short papers discussing the central topic of multiple identities at the intersection between religion, spirituality, and motherhood, with a focus on non-conforming mothers, male mothering, and othermothers. We are looking for papers that explore identity discourses within religious communities and traditions with regard to mothers, motherhood (as institution) and mothering (as experience).

Many religious traditions, through representations, discourses and ritual practices, often conflate “woman” with “mother” and feature images of divine or suprahuman mothers, not limited to mother-goddesses. Yet, in many religious systems, narratives, and rituals, maternal identities and practices extend well beyond the ties between a birth-giver and a dependent child to include figures that vary in gender and status (e.g. human, divine, even animal). Examining cases of mothers and maternal figures that challenge or do not conform to normative models shows a diversity of topics relevant to the history and study of religions at the intersection with mothers, motherhood and mothering. Examining how models of mothering (and more generally parenting and family) are imposed within a religious community sheds light on religious identity, its construction and its transmission by mothers and others engaging in mother work as children’s primary religious enculturators.

We are looking more specifically for papers that explore less frequently studied themes, such as othermothering, using religion or spirituality as a way to not conform to the expectations of motherhood, as well as forms of mothering that are not directly tied to biology and sexual reproduction, such as “spiritual mothering”, collective mothering of children by religious institutions, etc. This panel will also examine epistemological issues at the intersection between maternal theory and the academic study of religions, paying a particular attention to the distinction between “motherhood” as an institution and “mothering” as women’s own experience that may include religious aspects.

If you wish to submitt a proposal as part of this session, please send a title and a short (200-300 words) abstract to and until November 6, 2017. We will let potential contributors know if we can include their proposed paper by November 10, 2017.  For all inquiries, please contact

Michael Pye – Multiple religious identities in Japan

Japan is known for the wide range of different religions that can be observed there. Generally speaking they exist side by side, quite harmoniously, such that multiple religious identities can be cherished within family life and in the experience of the individual. The matter is however not quite as simple as is sometimes supposed. Several religious groupings guard their own identity, demarcating their teachings and religious concerns clearly from those of others. Certain new religions are presented as being significantly different from existing ones, which is understandable in that their raison d’être would otherwise be too weak for a successful launch. But the differences can be any one of institutional, conceptual/symbolic, ritual/behavioural, subjectively spiritual, or a combination of these aspects. One aspect may be distinctive, and others not. Moreover decisions are made, more or less consciously, about how followers may be permitted to take part in activities in the wider religious scene. Is such participation expected, permitted, or discouraged? The resultant patterns may range from exclusivism to tolerance and syncretism or even downright synthesis. For example, it is widely expected that followers of any religion will somehow participate in New Year activities, but just how, e.g. whether or not to visit a Shintō shrine to pray for this-worldly benefits, is another question. Similarly, circuit-based or multiple-site pilgrimage is a popular activity, but in some cases it is tightly linked to one denominational tradition and in other cases it is trans-denominational. Notably, there has recently been a rapprochement between the authorities of Tendai Buddhism, based on Mount Hiei, and those of Ise Shrine, centrally significant for Shintō, and this has led to the formation of a pilgrimage of one hundred stations. Those who go on such a pilgrimage in whole or part are also very likely to have some other religious affiliation or loyalty of their own. As to life-rites, weddings and funerals are naturally a fertile ground for such cross-overs. The purpose of this panel is both to assess this situation in general and to explore some particular examples. It is thought that similar questions can be posed with respect to the religious culture of other East Asian countries, and related contributions will be welcomed.

Papers proposed so far.

  • Michael Pye (University of Marburg and Ōtani University, Kyōto): Exclusivism and tolerance in the variety of religious orientations in Japan (introduction to panel)
  • Robert Rhodes (Ōtani University, Kyōto): Why does Shin Buddhism reject the worship of Shintō kami or of buddhas other than Amida Nyorai?

If you would like submit a proposal as part of this session, please send a title and a short abstract (200-300 words) to by November 5, 2017. Potential contributors will get a response within a few days after that.