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CALL. 15.12.2018: [SESSION 11] Contact(s) between religious systems: a "work-in-progress-topic




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Tartu (Tartu, Estonia)


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Religions do not form an independent mosaic, but show a dynamic of interaction through contact, through the option of more competitive development models and by the identity of the human beings that use them as patterns of meaning, which makes the narrow framework of study of each culture and consolidates theoretical bridges with other cultures – neighbours or not. It has been possible to verify how in the past the cultures which have adapted in the most suitable way to the different ecological and contact challenges are the ones that have prospered, those which have been better known and whose common features have been more redundant. In contrast, cultures with less competitive religious characteristics in the face of the challenge of contact have disappeared or are known much worse.

Today, globalization has brought into contact very different cultures and enhanced the outbreak of closed life models common among traditional societies. That is why religions that combine components of different creeds in a very dynamic way have arisen and continue to emerge. These are not syncretisms like those common in traditional and pre-agricultural societies based on acculturation or cultural destruction as a result of the clash between competing cultures. These are combinations of elements which come from different faiths and have as their goal, mostly, to achieve a perfect religion that satisfies both the aspirations of inner development and the 32 construction of a non-conflictive global coexistence and models of explanation of the world adapted to the present time, like the Baha'i faith.

Taking into account all these elements, the aim of this panel is to analyze the contact phenomena between religious systems of the past and present by applying the perspective and method of the History of Religions. The reasons why we propose a study of this phenomenon from the approach of the History of Religions are the following two. Firstly, because from this perspective, religious facts are cultural facts, neither are they timeless nor eternal, but they are inscribed in a defined historical framework which allows them to be explained to a large extent. Secondly, because the application of the method of the history of religions, the comparative method, makes it possible to build a bridge to overcome the temptation of religions – and those who study them - to understand themselves as unique and incomparable, relativizing information of a religious nature of a society by analyzing them in a profound way and allowing to relate different religions through the analysis of their common characteristics.

This panel, organized by members of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Instituto Bíblico y Oriental, wants to be a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Instituto Universitario de Ciencias de las Religiones of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the only existing research institute in the Spanish state university dedicated to the study of religions and a pioneer center in the teaching, study and dissemination of the History of Religions.

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