The international conference ‘Sexual and Gendered Moralities’ under the auspices of the International Association for the study of Religion and Gender (IARG) will take place in Ghent, Belgium, from 26-27 November 2018.

Taking disciplinary diversity towards the religious and non-religious into account, this conference wishes to focus on the broadly conceived realm of contemporary gendered and sexual ethics and moralities.

Throughout the world, new moralities with regards to sexual, gender and reproductive rights, identities and expressions; alternative kinship forms and family arrangements; and creative post-patriarchal and anti-racial practices, life-ways and communities have emerged. Yet, in the wake of neo-conservative resistance that often appeals to religious (or religiously-sanctioned) moralizing discourses on gender and sexuality, these have shown to be fragile. Meanwhile, the daily ‘art of living together’ in conditions of growing cultural and ethnic diversity, social inequality and existential precariousness is also challenged by frictions between different moral frames and sensibilities. We conceive of ‘moralities’ in a very open and broad sense, as the expression of the values and affects characteristic of contemporary societies and relate to the question, ‘how to live a meaningful life?’. The conference aims to bring together scholars from different disciplines researching the relationship between sexuality, gender and ethical life in contemporary society. In particular, we aim to focus on theoretical and empirical approaches at the intersection of religion, non-religion and the secular.

The objective is to bring scholars from different disciplines together presenting and exchanging on their research results with regards to the conference theme. Interdisciplinary research on the relationship between sexuality, gender and morality is urgent because in contemporary multicultural and postcolonial societies, religious profiling, confrontation and (identity) politics at local, national and international levels often focus on themes of sexual difference, sexuality and reproduction (e.g. the recurrent heated debates over women’s veiling, abortion, homosexuality and similar issues). Gender and sexuality seem to have become the arenas or battle fields of religion/s in our modern world, not at least in Western Europe. In order to break new grounds in the understanding of these complex dynamics of religion and gender in our contemporary world, this conference aims to stimulate further exchange and cooperation to explore the current major challenges to the study of religion and gender, to identify the fundamental critical issues, and to address these in innovative ways and from an interdisciplinary perspective. By focussing on the realm of the moral and ethics, we believe this is a novel and timely area of study, that has not yet been addressed in relation to the relationship and interaction between religious, non-religious and secular norms and life domains.

The organizing committee is located within the Alliance research group ECSO (Ethics, Culture & Society) and brings together expertise between RHEA (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender (Universiteit Gent). ECSO was launched in 2017 and has drawn up a plan to cooperate, exchange, organize and stimulate research. Both research groups share an interest in the study of difference, diversity, identity and inequality – particularly in intersections of gender, ethnicity, religion and sexuality.

More information, conference programme and registration: https://ecso.be/

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