'Religion and Sexuality in Post-Colonial Europe: Between Categorization and Transcendence'
January 29-30, 2009, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Organizer: Oskar Verkaaik (University of Amsterdam)
On the one hand, religion and sexuality are core markers in identity politics and the culturalization of citizenship, especially, but not only, in Europe today; on the other hand, religion and sexuality have the potential to transcend these very normative and cultural boundaries. This workshop explored this paradox in an ethnographic, sociological and historical way. Two main themes of the workshop were the construction of discourses on religion and sexuality in today’s new nationalisms, and the way groups of people appropriate and experience sexuality and religion against the background of the nationalist
projects. The discussions centered on how religion and sexuality are at the heart of postcolonial processes of 'othering' and sources of the authentic, subjective and sublime. The discussion focused partly on secularization and its religious -- more precisely, Christian -- genealogy. Participants explored the notion of a secular sexuality as public norm and as a
source of authenticity for both pious believers and secularists. These 'sexular' practices of self-understanding and authentification are experienced through the body. Therefore, the body became an important concept participants used to think with in their debates about the intersection of religion and sexuality.