We invite papers that discuss the rise of 'New Spirituality' movements in an uncertain Europe, and their interaction with long-established religious institutions. In what ways has 'New Spirituality' affected European religiosity and why/how do people use it in order to cope with identity anxiety?
Contemporary Europe is currently going through a period of social, political and economic uncertainty. Its countries appear to be experiencing a restlessness that leads to feelings of (individual, social, religious, national) identity anxiety. European religiosity, in particular, which has been primarily connected with Christianity, has not remained unaffected. In countries such as Greece, Slovenia and Portugal, for example, which have long been considered mono-religious and predominantly Christian, the appearance of the so-called 'new spirituality movements' (Shimazono 1999) is gradually increasing. This recently developed phenomenon of 'new spirituality' movements (sometimes still called 'New Age'), seems to offer an alternative understanding of and challenge existing social - and, most importantly, religious - structures. It can serve as an indication that people are gradually turning towards new paths of spirituality in order to re-invent their anxious selves by establishing a 'safer' socio-cultural and perceptual reality through practices of spiritual creativity.
In this workshop we aim to establish a dialogue between diverse ethnographic cases that deal with present-day European uncertainty through the prism of 'new spirituality'. We therefore welcome papers that discuss - but are not necessarily limited to - the following questions: What is the role of 'new spirituality' in an increasingly restless Europe? How is it related to emerging identity disquietedness and in what ways does it interact with long-established religious institutions (i.e. Christian Church)? To what extend do 'new spirituality' movements form a part of a 'grey economy' due to a growing economic uncertainty, enabling new contacts and exchanges between different social groups?