BASR Annual Conference 2021

6-7 September 2021, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

“From Religious Studies to the Study of Religion/s: Disciplinary Futures for the 21st century”

Registration for the conference is now open. Please fill in this form to register:

Please note that registration is provisional until confirmation of membership status or payment of the registration fee. The Treasurer will make contact once your form is received. Registration for speakers closes on 12 July 2021, but late registration for attendees will remain open until 1 September. If you have any queries, please contact the BASR Treasurer, Dr Chris Cotter, on

More information about the conference, including the conference booklet and information on how to attend, will appear on the conference webpage over the course of the summer. Please bookmark this webpage:

We look forward very much to (virtually) welcoming you to Edinburgh in September. 

Conference Programme below

About the Conference

The BASR 2021 conference falls in the 175th anniversary year of the foundation of New College, home of the School of Divinity, and marks the 50th anniversary of the teaching of Religious Studies at Edinburgh. The conference is also designated an IAHR Special Conference and we look forward to welcoming our international colleagues.

The aim of the conference is to discuss disciplinary and interdisciplinary pasts and futures in Religious Studies or the Study of Religion/s, with a particular focus on the future shape of the field in the 21st Century. After a period of sharp critique of many of the field’s basic categories and axioms, it feels timely now to reflect upon what the field has positively achieved, the challenges it has faced (and overcome), and the direction(s) it should now pursue.

The scope of the conference is the post-1960s period up to and including the present moment, during which Religious Studies emerged, consolidated and diversified as a recognised disciplinary field or ‘brand’. Local and regional histories of the field during this period are welcome, particularly where they identify problems or strengths for the future, or can illuminate regional or international developments.

We are particularly interested in exploring the grounds for positive and constructive disciplinary futures based on concrete methods and models for research and teaching. Questions to consider here might include: What intellectual benefits does the Study of Religion/s bring to academic research in colleges and universities? What are its particular strengths in teaching, what pedagogical contributions does it make to secondary school and adult education, and how might its curriculae be improved in practical ways? What kinds of impact does the field have in wider society, and in what directions might its impact be developed? Who are the different audiences for the Study of Religion/s, and how can we engage new audiences whilst fostering existing strengths? Which academic disciplines offer strongest synergies for our field, whether established partners or new approaches, and how can we make the most of these while retaining a sense of our own identity? And what’s in a name – what is the best disciplinary title for what we’ve been doing since the 1960s (and earlier)?

We are delighted to confirm the titles of our two keynote papers:

‘The Collective Ownership of Knowledge: Implications for the Study of Religion/s in Local Contexts’
James Cox, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies,
University of Edinburgh

Studying Religions critically in Universities and Schools: bridging the gap?’

Wanda Alberts, Professor in the Study of Religion,
Leibniz University Hannover.

The programme will also feature an international panel on the conference theme and a parallel online video and art installation, “RUINS”.

Conference exhibitors:

Bloomsbury Academic (see conference page)
Equinox (see conference flyer)

The cost of registration, for both presenters and non-presenters, is as follows:

  • Members of the BASR: Free
  • Non-members (waged): £30
  • Non-members (unwaged): £15

Note that for non-members, registration for the conference will also include entitlement for one year of membership of the BASR.