Upcoming Events

Webinar: Online Documentary Film Program and Debate

Religious Healing and Sacred Health Curing

The Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University are organising a new series of online biweekly documentary film presentations and debates regarding Religious Healing and Sacred Health Curing.

During our current complex situation caused by COVID-19, this program should be considered a unique platform for specialists of the field in which they will be able to watch collectively documentary films which in one way or another discuss the role of religion, religious rituals, sacred sites and material religion in religious healing and sacred health curing. The film presentations will be continued by a debate between the moderator, filmmakers and the specialists of the field.

Week 1: July 11, 2020 10:00 AM in London (7pm Sydney time)

Please join our first biweekly webinar, documentary film presentation and debate organized by the Network of the Anthropology of the Middle East and Central Eurasia of EASA in collaboration with the Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University.

Introduction to the program by Dr. P. Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), and debate by Dr. R. Canals (University of Barcelona), Dr. J. Lindsay (John Cabot University), Dr. M. Poltorak (University of Kent), Dr. C. Suhr (Aarhus University).

Film presentation: The Smell of Dust

Majed Neisi, 2002, 11 minutes, Iran.


During the sacred month of Moharram in Iran, Shiite Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. A rumour spread throughout the city of Ahwaz in the south of Iran: Imam Hossein had been sighted in an earth soccer field where the annual passion play (Taziyeh) commemorating him was being performed. The earth of the field was said to be blessed and to miraculously heal the infirm. People came out in droves, often with their infirm in tow; people unable to speak, blind people, cripples, and many more, brought together by their faith in miracles.

This webinar will be held on Zoom.

To register please visit: https://uws.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jQwqfGV0QYSvBEQoK3eoXw

Call For Applicants:
Interdisciplinary Masterclass on:
Ali ibn-Musa al-Reza’s Sacred Mortuary Complex:
Shiite Pilgrimage, Devotional Practices, and Religious Healing
18-24 April 2020 - Mashhad, Iran

Convenors:Majid Fouladiyan (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Ferdowsi University, Mashhad, Iran)
Pedram Khosronejad (Adjunct Professor, Religion and Society Research Cluster, Western Sydney University, Australia)

Ali ibn-Musa al-Reza’s shrine and its related mortuary complex have been used for centuries by devotees as one of the most important healing sites of the Muslim world. Although pilgrimage to Imam Reza’s shrine should be considered as one of the oldest religious rituals in Shiite Iran, it remains and continues its vibrant movement in the twenty-first century. Pilgrims to this sacred site have and combine different traditional and modern motivations, but most importantly seeking healing for physical disease or spiritual issues. The existence of a huge number of national and international pilgrims to the city of Mashhad for the visitation of this holy Shiite saint’s shrine is testimony to the power that Imam Reza continues to hold for those devotees who undertake these sacred journeys.

In this masterclass, for the first time, through the use of anthropological and interdisciplinary research methods, we aim to examine different and persistent forms of Persian Shiite rituals and practices to expand our understanding of the role of Imam Reza and his holy shrine in the traditional and modern practices of Ziyarat (physical and digital). By focusing on the different dimensions of pilgrimage to the shrine of the eighth Shiite Imam, we aim to perform selected case studies grounded in different research methods to help participants to understand the many ways in which pilgrimage provides help and support to the pilgrims.

During the seven-day program (30 h) participants will be introduced to:
- The history of the martyrdom of Imam Reza and the establishment of his shrine,
- The importance of Imam Reza’s shrine and related sacred sites in the construction of a holy Shiite site,
- Methodologies for studying Imam Reza’s shrine from different aspects of Shiite doctrine,
- The importance of pilgrimage to Imam Reza’s shrine and its social, cultural and political influence at the personal, local, national, and international levels,
- Rituals and ceremonies related to Imam Reza’s shrine and its sacred and religious sites.

The entire masterclass will be organized under the governance of the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad and will primarily be held in the shrine of Imam Reza and its research institute.
Complementary to the theory classes and fieldwork will be the private visitation of the research institute, library and archive of Imam Reza’s shrine (Astan-e Qods), visitation of other saints’ shrines and cemeteries of Mashhad and neighbouring cities for further comparative studies.

Participants: This program is only open to university-based scholars, registered students, and official researchers.
Visa:  The Ferdowsi University will issue an official invitation for all participants, who should apply for their own visas individually. The Ferdowsi University has no responsibility in this regard and cannot guarantee the result of related applications. Accommodation:
For the duration of the masterclass, all participants will stay in the hotel booked by the Ferdowsi University.
The registration fee (including: program fee, accommodation, food, and transportation for the duration of the masterclass)
- Registered students: $ 600
- University scholars and researchers: $ 1000
* The registration fee should be paid in cash during the first day of arrival at the university campus.

Deadline for Preliminary Registration: 15th January 2020.

For further enquiries, to complete your preliminary registration and reserve your place, please contact Dr. P. Khosronejad (P.Khosronjead@westernsydney.edu.au).

TASA Conference 2019: Sociology of Religion Thematic Group Sessions

Conference Details

Tuesday 26 November

Chair: Dr Rosemary Hancock

Location: Western Sydney University, Parramatta City Campus, 01.6.21

11:00-11:20am: Mehrnosh Lajevardi Fatemi (Western Sydney University) - "Diversity & Urban Growth, Mosques"

11:20-11:40am: Geraldine Smith (University of Tasmania) - "Multifaith Encounters: Online and Beyond"

11:40am-12:00pm: Alan Nixon (Western Sydney University) - "Big Data and Digital Religion: The Archimedean Affect"

12:00-12:20pm: Adam Possamai and Gary Long (Western Sydney University) - "Losing Faith in the Classification and Evaluation of Research: A Meta-Metrics Approach to Research on Religion in Australia"

Wednesday 27 November

Chair: Dr Alan Nixon

Location: Western Sydney University, Parramatta City Campus, 01.6.31

11:00-11:20am: Gary Bouma (Monash University) - "Religious Diversity and Social Cohesion in Australia: A Diversity of Diversities"

11:20-11:40am: Rhys Gower (Western Sydney University) - "Postmodernism as Risk: An Atheist Discourse"

11:40am-12:00pm: Alexia Derbas (Western Sydney University) - "Islam & Instagram: becoming posthuman"

12:00-12:20pm: Jonathan Smith (Australian Catholic University) - "From Religious to Non-Religious: Understanding Change in Religious Affiliation during Early Adulthood in Australia"

12:20-12:40pm: Rosie Shorter (Western Sydney University) - "Cruel Complementarianism: Constructing the Christian good life"

Thursday 28 November

Special Session: "Interfaith Childhoods: Diversity and Urban Growth"

Chair: TBA

11:00-11:20am: Anna Hickey-Moody (RMIT University) - "Community, urban futures and faith belonging in children’s art"

11:20-11:40am: Marissa Willcox (RMIT University) - "Material pedagogies for understanding the intersections of gender, race and religion"

11:40am-12:00pm: Mia Harrison - "Affective Labour and Ethnography of Religion"

Re-presenting Islam and Muslims Post 9/11: Images, Words and Refusals

A public lecture by Zulfikar Hirji, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto.

Location: Western Sydney University, Parramatta City Campus, 01.7.65

Date: Tuesday 3 December

Time: 4-6pm

Location: Female Orphan School, Parramatta Sth, EZ.G.22.

In a Post-9/11 world of evermoving words and images, how do we respond to negative and stereotypical representations of Islam and Muslims? Zulfikar Hirji discusses the perennial challenge of decolonizing and deorientalising portrayals of Islam and Muslims by drawing upon and theories of ‘recognition’ and ‘refusal’ articulated by Indigenous scholars in North America, and by reflecting upon his journey through academia and experience of producing Islam: An Illustrated Journey (2018), a book that explores the diverse histories of Islam and Muslims over more than 1400 years.

Zulfikar Hirji (DPhil, Oxford) is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at York University, Toronto. Professor Hirji’s scholarly interests are on Islam and Muslims in historical and contemporary contexts and on issues of knowledge production, representation and identity, visual and material culture, and critical pedagogy. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in South Asia, East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe and North America. His publications include The Ismailis: An Illustrated History (2008), Diversity and Pluralism in Muslim Contexts (2010), Between Empires (2012), Islam: An Illustrated Journey (2018), and Approaches to the Qur’an in sub-Saharan Africa (2019).

See event flyer here

Call For Papers: 3rd Advancing Community Cohesion Conference

Abstracts: By Friday 18 October 2019

Queries: Professor Sev Ozdowski, Conference Convenor and Director, Office of Equity and Diversity, Western Sydney University at S.Ozdowski@westernsydney.edu.au.

The Organising Committee of the 3rd Advancing Community Cohesion Conference – The Way Forward (3rd ACCC) warmly invites submissions of paper and workshop proposals.

Following on from the 2nd Advancing Community Cohesion Conference – Today’s Challenges and Solutions (November 2017) and the 1st Advancing Community Cohesion Conference – Towards a National Compact (July 2015), the 3rd ACCC (February 2020) will focus on ways to understand and advance social cohesion in Australia.

The Conference aims to address a broad range of social, economic, educational and legal issues and to contribute to policy development by bringing together Australian and international experts on social cohesion and multiculturalism. In particular, we seek paper proposals that respond to the need for evidence-based information based on research and case studies. The conference also seeks proposals to conduct workshops to advance practical cohesion building skills in workplaces and other social settings.

Conference speakers will include government ministers, community leaders, senior government officials and scholars from leading universities and research centres as well as members of civil society.

Submission Instructions

The abstract should not exceed 300 words. It should outline the main hypothesis and how it contributes to the conference theme. Submissions are also asked to outline the methodology of the research and how the paper will address current challenges and solutions, either Australian or global.

All presenting authors are to supply a high quality photo and biography (200 words) for inclusion in the Conference App/ Program Book.

Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by email by Friday 8 November 2019.

If accepted, final versions of abstracts and workshop proposals must be submitted by Friday 13 December 2019.

Please find the full Call for Papers here

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