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EARS conference 2019

October 17 - October 18

EARS conference 2019: “Religion as identity marker, the use and abuse of Judeo-Christian tradition”

On the 17th and 18th of October 2019 EARS organizes an international conference on the theme of Judeo-christianity and Islam: contested narratives. This international conference will be hosted by the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Politicians, academics, journalists, policymakers and opinionaters are invited to discuss the theme of “Judeo-christian” culture and its tradition within the European context.

Throughout Europe the theme of Judeo-christian culture and tradition has become increasingly popular, yet at the same time more and more contested. Politicians seemingly refer to a common heritage, that nevertheless by many a scholar has been unmasked as a myth. Hence, in particular the suggestion that the theme judeo-christian refers to a kind of unity, which is clearly to be distinguished from the Islam, is strongly contested. Still the terms are frequently used in the European debate on identity, and they figure no less in the American discussions.

The way however the terms are used reveals that this terminology is not primarily aiming at the analysis of a certain content, but rather on its instrumental usefulness, allowing politicians to frame their positions in an ideological language in which the supposedly opposition with the Islam plays an important role. This comes down to the fact that politicians have transformed a religious notion into a political tool that no longer refers to any living religious tradition but is preferably used as an ideological package. In other words, the reference to religious traditions shows how these traditions have become instrumentalized in the actual political debate.

Therefore, the topic of the Judeo-christian culture and tradition is one of the topics on which EARS focusses in 2019, taking into account that this topic deals also with the role of the Islam and with the reentry of religion in the public space. It deals with freedom of thought and freedom of religion, but it also stresses the powerplay religion is capable to produce and actually does. In fact, it is a bifocal theme, inviting us to meet some political and theological challenges.

We invited as keynote speakers Graham Ward (Oxford; accepted), Anya Topolski (Radboud University; accepted), Joel Sebban (Université de Paris; accepted), Ruud Koopmans (Humbold University; accepted).



October 17
October 18