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Sufi Teachings in the Postsecular West

Call for Papers

International Workshop at the Department of the Study of Religions, Aarhus University, Thursday, 27th and Friday, 28th October 2022, 10.00-16.00.


  • Ricarda Stegmann, Department of the Study of Religions/Arab and Islamic Studies, Aarhus University
  • Mark Sedgwick, Department of the Study of Religions/Arab and Islamic Studies, Aarhus University

Sufism attracts Muslims and non-Muslims throughout the West. Its teachings and practices are a popular part of spiritual offerings within Western societies and add another variant to Islam in Europe and North America. This workshop is specifically dedicated to the question of the teachings of Sufis in the 21st century in the West. Guiding questions for the workshop are:

  • What are the central contents of Sufi teachings in 21st century Europe and North America? What theories of the cosmos, the human being and his/her spiritual journey, his/her relationship to God, his/her tasks in the world etc. underlie this?
  • To what extent are these conceptions an expression of global-historical entanglements in the sense that they reflect elements of various intellectual-historical traditions originating from different European, Arab, Persian, Turkish or Southeast Asian contexts? Discussions may also include the form and use of Sufi practices, forms of organisation, etc.
  • In how far do these Sufi teachings provide an answer to the major individual and social questions of our time such as self-realisation and healing, human rights, interreligious tolerance or climate change, and how do these answers relate to other approaches and offerings discussed in European societies?
  • To what extent are these responses products of and responses to the specific constellations of European and American contexts in the 21st century, which are often characterised as postsecular, neoliberal, etc.?

Although the workshop focuses on Western European and North American societies, individual contributions on other geographical regions are welcome and can serve as a good basis for discussing commonalities and possible specificities of these and other regions. The workshop language will be English. A selection of papers may be published in a special journal issue or an edited volume, which will be discussed during the workshop.

Please send an abstract of 300 words to Ricarda Stegmann: rs@cas.au.dk by 30 May 2022 at the latest, together with a short biographical statement mentioning no more than two recent publications. Presentations should be of approximately 30 minutes and papers should ideally be circulated among the participants before the workshop.

Costs for travel and accommodation will be covered, but please note that funding for the workshop is still conditional and will be confirmed by mid-June at the latest.