Call for Papers: The Transnationalization of Religion through Music. Montréal, Canada, 16-18 October 2014

The transnationalization of religion refers to the relocalization of beliefs, rituals and religious practices beyond state lines, in real or symbolic spaces, with the help of new imaginaries and narrative identities (Capone 2005). Although the analysis of religious transnationalization has revealed the various ways religion transcends borders, the role of music in this process is rarely addressed. Yet this role is essential in the transnationalization of universal religions like Islam and Christianity. Music also contributes to the migration of local religions, neotraditionalist movements, and cults associated with a particular area, such as Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santería, or Brazilian Candomble. Such musical phenomena, far from being new, gave birth to early religious globalizations (Irving 2010). For example, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Jesuits used baroque music to establish Roman Catholicism in China (Picard 2002), in Ethiopia (Damon 2009) and in the Andes (Carme 1989).
During the 20th century, the emergence of new means of transportation and communication accelerated musical transfers, which took place on a more global scale. As a result, transnational religious repertoires are today extremely diverse: African American gospel (Williams-Jones 1975), Japanese Christian rock (Stevens 2004), Swedish Muslim hip hop (Ackfeldt 2012), Hindu music in Martinique (Desroches 1996), Tanzanian Christian Choirs (Barz 2003), and Papua New Guinean Pentecostal hymns (Webb 2011).
The transnationalization of religion through music is historically linked to evangelism, slavery, and colonialism; it is also a by-product of the migration of the musicians, the circulation of song books, and the spread of recordings in physical and other forms: records, tapes, CDs, DVDs, radio, television, and the Internet. In all these situations, rhythms, melodies, lyrics, repertoires, dances, and instruments convey meanings that redefine worldviews, religious identities, rituals, prayers, and modes of divine presence.
By studying musical mobility and its reception in local contexts, this conference aims at understanding how music “migrates” along with religions, how it contributes to the construction of plural societies, and the fundamental role it plays in the creation and recreation of ideas, identities, and religious practices in a transnational context. This will make it possible to highlight misunderstandings and ambivalent musical postures, which are the products of transnational processes and which are created through various religious, aesthetic, or political choices. By bringing together musicologists, musical historians, ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, and sociologists of music, this conference will shed new light on a phenomenon mainly studied from a religious point of view.

Four themes will be explored:

    1. Transnationalization from a historical standpoint. Is the concept of transnationalization relevant in describing the early stages of religious spread, or should it be replaced by the concepts of globalization or internationalization? The transnationalization of religion as a process has greatly changed since the beginning of the 20th century and should be examined through a musical lens, paying particular attention to the development of new technologies and the ever increasing migration of musicians. The examination of these driving forces will reveal whether such changes are truly original or recurrences of older phenomena. While we will be primarily concerned with the diachronic dimension of the phenomenon, it will also be possible to model processes that reappeared under similar forms in various contexts and periods of history.
    2. New areas of fieldwork, new areas of study. The transnational nature of the music studied leads researchers to carry out fieldwork in both locally-based and multi-sited fieldworks (Marcus 1995). Although participative observation, interviews, and life story approach are still relevant, researchers sometimes need to corroborate their findings with second-hand sources, written or oral. In some instances, they must combine urban and rural surveys, while “cyber-fieldwork”, now unavoidable, sets various methodological problems. Addressing these issues will renew the way fieldwork is perceived in the social sciences.
    3. Process analysis. The goal of this theme is to clarify the process of religious transnationalization by examining the reception, appropriation, creation and distribution of musical practices and objects. The identification of the various forms and functions affecting music during this process should also be considered, as exemplified by the sacralization of secular music (or vice versa). The migration of musicians and their routes and networks are also of interest, as is the evolution or non-evolution of aesthetic values.
    4. Poles and scales of identification. Research has shown that religious transnationalization involves a double process: the homogenization of local worship practices and, concurrently, the reassertion of local identities (Hervieu-Léger 2001). From specific examples, an area for research might be how the conjunction of music and religion takes part in the standardization or diversification of the world. How the transnationalization of music is responsible for the creation of multiple identities is also a question that should be addressed. Comparing musical parameters with musicians’ discourses will reveal how each musical dimension is associated with the different aspects of identity, such as religion, nationality, ethnicity, and affiliation with imagined communities.

By focusing on phenomena of musical transnationalization in the specific contexts of religion and the diversity of global practices and beliefs, this conference will provide an opportunity to combine a vast array of fields and to compare works that are both historically and geographically distant.

Proposal Submission Guidelines
Each proposal, in French or English, should include:
• Author’s last and first name;
• Author’s institutional affiliation (please specify if you are a student);
• Author’s mailing address, phone number and e-mail;
• Author’s biography (up to 150 words);
• Author’s degrees by field, in reverse chronological order (up to 5);
• Author’s recent positions, if relevant, in reverse chronological order (up to 5);
• Author’s recent publications, in reverse chronological order (up to 5);
• Presentation title;
• Presentation abstract (750–1000 words) divided into three parts: subject (topics addressed), methodology, and conclusions;
• Selected bibliography (mandatory).

Lectures must last 20 minutes. Files should be sent as e-mail attachments (Word format) to The deadline is December 1st, 2013. The abstracts will be evaluated anonymously by a jury of international experts.
The OICRM will award two travel scholarships to the best applications from students living outside Montreal.

Scientific committee
Nathalie Fernando (Université de Montréal)
Hugo Ferran (Université de Montréal, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow)
Deirdre Meintel (Université de Montréal)
François Picard (Université de Paris-Sorbonne)
Kay Kaufman Shelemay (Harvard University)

Université de Montréal
Faculté de musique
Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique
Laboratoire de musicologie comparée et d’anthropologie de la musique
C.P. 6128, succ. Centre-Ville
Montréal (Québec) H3C 3J7
Phone | 514-343-6111, ext. 2801
E-mail |
Website |

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) African Humanities Program Fellowship Competition 2013-2014

The ACLS African Humanities Program is happy to announce that application materials for the 2013-14 fellowship competition are now available online. To download the application documents, and for further information on this year’s competition, please visit

The African Humanities Program, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, provides fellowships for scholars in the humanities who are nationals of sub-Saharan African countries. Dissertation fellowships to support the final year of writing are available to scholars affiliated with institutions of higher education and research in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Early-career postdoctoral fellowships are available to scholars who are eight or fewer years past the Ph.D. and who are affiliated with institutions in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa. The African Humanities Program supports research in any humanistic discipline, and invites applications from scholars working in any field in the humanities. For more information about the African Humanities Program, please visit us online at or To join the AHP mailing list, please contact
We enage everyone to spread the word about this year’s competition and to contact ACLS with any questions about the application process. Queries can be directed to
The application deadline is November 1, 2013. Applications should be submitted via email to Late applications will not be accepted.

ACLS African Humanities Program Fellows 2013-2014
The ACLS African Humanities Program (funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York) announces 34 new Fellowship awards in its fifth competition year. The Fellows represent a broad range of fields in the humanities and come from many educational institutions across Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Their applications were evaluated by an international committee of 50 senior scholars from African universities in a rigorous process of peer review.

27 of our 34 new Fellows will be undertaking AHP-funded residencies, traveling to eight residential centers in six African countries over the course of the academic year. We congratulate our Fellows and wish them the best of luck.

To access the full press release and the lists of Dissertation and Postdoctoral Fellows, please visit

You can keep up with all AHP news and announcements by following the program on Facebook at .

Karl Barth in Dialogue with Other Religious Traditions

Call for contributions to a book project entitled: Karl Barth in Dialogue with Other Religious Traditions: Karl Barth and Comparative Theology. The project has been submitted to Fordham University Press by Christian T. Collins Winn & Martha Moore-Kish. They are looking specifically for scholars of African indigenous religions who have an interest in the writings of Karl Barth.

This volume brings the theology of Karl Barth into dialogue with the burgeoning field of comparative theology. Featuring contributions from a variety of scholars, the volume builds on recent engagements with Barth in the area of theologies of religion, by opening a new conversation between Barth’s theology and comparative theology. The opening essay summarizes the intra-Christian conversation about how Barth’s theology can helpfully inform theology of religious pluralism. The bulk of the volume which follows features comparative theological performances, which bring Barth’s theology into conversation with theological claims from other religious traditions for the purpose of modeling deep learning across religious borders from a Barthian perspective. For each tradition addressed in this volume, two Christian theologians offer focused engagements of Barth with themes and figures from another religious tradition, with a response from a theologian from that tradition itself. Scant attention has been given to Barth as a conversation partner in the discipline of comparative theology, and we seek to open up new trajectories for comparative theology with this unlikely interlocutor.

Those interested may contact Christian Collins Winn for more information (

St. Lawrence University – VAP, Study of Islam

St. Lawrence University
Visiting Assistant Professor – Study of Islam

St. Lawrence University invites applications for a one-year Visiting position at the assistant professor level in the study of Islam to begin August 2013. The successful candidate will be asked to teach the department’s survey of Islam, a 100-level thematic course that introduces students to the academic study of religion of the candidate’s design, and upper-level courses of the candidate’s design. Preference will be given to candidates who are conversant with academic method and theory in the study of religion. Normal teaching load is three courses per semester. A completed Ph.D. is preferred but late-stage ABD candidates will be considered.

Interested candidates should send an electronic copy of their application materials to Mark MacWilliams (, and copy Laura Desmond ( and Joyce Sheridan ( Applications should include a cover letter of application, C.V., two sample syllabi three letters of recommendation, at least one of which addresses teaching. Review of applications will begin immediately and ongoing review will continue until the position is successfully filled.

Located in Canton, N.Y., St. Lawrence University is a coeducational, private, independent liberal arts institution of about 2,400 students. The educational opportunities at St. Lawrence inspire students and prepare them to be critical and creative thinkers, to find a compass for their lives and careers, and to pursue knowledge and understanding for the benefit of themselves, humanity and the planet. Through its focus on active engagement with ideas in and beyond the classroom, a St. Lawrence education leads students to make connections that transform lives and communities, from the local to the global. For additional information about St. Lawrence, please visit SLU’s homepage at

SLU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer.

Department Type: Religion or Religious Studies
Rank at Which You Expect to Make Appointment: Assistant

Course Load: 3/semester
Candidate’s Skills, Background
Required: Teaching Experience
Desired: PhD

Northwestern – Position in Islam in African Societies

Northwestern University
Associate or Full Professor, Islam in African Societies

Northwestern University’s Program of African Studies is accepting applications for a full-time tenured appointment at the rank of Associate or Full Professor with an active research agenda that focuses on the role of Islam in African societies. The appointment will be contingent upon a successful tenure review. The appointment will be in a home department in the College of Arts and Sciences (including but not limited to Religious Studies, Anthropology, Philosophy, Sociology, Political Science, Literature, or History) and will be associated with the interdisciplinary Program of African Studies. The ability to engage across disciplines and the capacity to provide leadership for interdisciplinary collaboration to support the study of Islam at Northwestern University is highly desirable. Applicants should submit:

a letter of intent describing their current research agenda and teaching experience/interests representative written work
a curriculum vitae
the names and contact information for three referees

Submissions must be made via the application system found at Only electronic application materials will be accepted. The internal review process for applications will begin immediately and continue until October 1, 2013.

Questions can be directed to We strongly encourage women and minorities to apply. AA/EOE.

Department Type:
Area Studies
Rank at Which You Expect to Make Appointment: Associate
Location of Position: Illinois, United States

Candidate’s Skills, Background
Required: PhD
Teaching Experience Desired: Interdisciplinary Teaching or Research

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