Religion and Secularity in Contemporary European Cinema

full name / name of organization: 
Costica Bradatan
contact email: 

"Religion and Secularity in Contemporary European Cinema"

7-8 October, 2011
Barcelona, Spain


We are pleased to invite abstract submissions for an interdisciplinary conference exploring the interplay between religious and secular experience as reflected in contemporary European cinema.

Organizer: Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona), Department of Social and Political Science, Research Group in Political Theory, GRTP, coordinator: Ferran Requejo).

Conference coordinators: Camil Ungureanu (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona) & Costica Bradatan (Texas Tech University, USA)

Key-note addresses:
- Simon Critchley (New School for Social Research, New York, USA): "The Faith of the Faithless"
- Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (Queen Mary, University of London, UK): "Pasolini, the Sacred and the Politics of Negation"

In addition, the conference will feature papers by Maeve Cooke (University College Dublin), Jolyon Mitchell (Edinburgh University), Frank Stern (University of Wien), and other scholars.

The religious landscape of Europe has radically changed over the last seventy years. Some scholars highlight how there has been a steady decline in church-going in many parts of Europe, while others observe how religious values, attitudes and experiences remain, often in disguised forms, salient for many Europeans. In many European countries the power of institutional religion has declined, while the interest in individualized spiritualities has increased. Immigration and globalization have also contributed to the growth of a more diverse religious environment. For example, Islamic, Pentecostal and New Age beliefs have become more commonplace in several nations.

This "post-secular" shift (J. Habermas) merits careful interpretation: what are the current transformations of religious and secular experience, in an increasingly pluralist, fragmented and "post-traditional" environment? The conventional narrative of an Enlightenment pitting secular modernity against religious experience does not satisfactorily account for a "grey zone" of mutual influences, structural analogies and common dilemmas between the two. This conference aims to go beyond the tradition of Enlightenment-type anti-clericalism. Instead, it aims at investigating the complex problematic of this "grey area" through an examination of the way representative European directors understand and "reinvent" the interaction, confrontation and mutual transformation of religious and secular practices and experience. This raises fascinating and significant questions around themes such as solidarity and the reconstitution of political community, hospitality, otherness and pluralism, evil and responsibility, control and power, religion, violence, and peacebuilding. Around such themes we seek to initiate an interdisciplinary conversation that would cast new light on the relationship between the religious and secular experience.

Methodologically, we will look at the European cinema from several perspectives, including formal-aesthetic and philosophical. We propose to analyze cinematic works of art in their specific cultural-religious and political contexts.

We welcome contributions from scholars (film theorists and film historians, philosophers, intellectual and cultural historians, political scientists, and scholars of religion and film) working on the interplay between sacred and secular in contemporary European cinema, with special reference to the major religious cultures of our time.

We would welcome paper proposals including, though not limited to, the following topics:

- Solidarity and the re-constitution of community
- Hospitality, otherness, and pluralism
- Evil, guilt, and responsibility
- Control and power
- Religion, violence, and the meaning of sacrifice
- Faith and hope
- Forgiveness and transformation

Travel expenses to Barcelona (up to a certain amount) and accommodation expenses will be covered.

We plan to publish the presented papers into a themed volume with a major academic publisher.

Please send abstracts (approximately 350 words) and a short CV to: and by 15 February, 2011.

Costica Bradatan, PhD
Assistant Professor

Texas Tech University
The Honors College
PO Box 41017
Lubbock, TX 79409