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Religious repertoires for socio-ecological transformation 
Timothy Stacey (Utrecht University)
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Simone Kotva (University of Oslo)
Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

After years of stasis and amid environmental backsliding, we need new ways of deconstructing problematic practices and collectively constructing alternatives. This panel explores the role of “religious repertoires” in inhibiting and enabling transformation: magic, myths, rituals, and traditions.

Long Abstract:

After years of stasis, we find ourselves witnessing environmental backsliding. The problem, this panel proposes, is twofold: First, the facts alone are not enough. We need deeper, more-than-rational means of mobilizing transformation. But second, claims to “stick to the facts” conceal hidden agendas. We need new ways of deconstructing our own and others’ agendas, and collectively constructing alternatives. Enter religious repertoires: the magic, myths, rituals, and traditions that shape the futures we yearn for, the pathways we carve, and the tools we employ.

Since Sheila Jasanoff's seminal work, words with a rich history in the study of religion such as imaginaries and worldviews have enjoyed increasing use in environmental studies. But both the depth of meaning and the appreciation of performativity have been diluted. Inspired by Bron Taylor and Mike Hulme among others, the religious repertoires approach addresses both shortcomings by 1) highlighting cosmic and ontological ideas, existential feelings, and moral ideals; 2) moving focus away from propositional beliefs and arguments and towards performances.

Emphasizing objectivity, academics and policymakers can have a hard time imagining that there are religion-like forces shaping their practice. This attitude not only forecloses reflexivity and marginalizes unorthodox ideas, but also limits the tools available for mobilizing action. Scientists and policymakers feel increasingly compelled to state their position on our socio-ecological direction. Meanwhile, climate deniers and populists are able to claim that science is nothing more than religion, while masterfully crafting religious repertoires that serve their ends.

This Combined Open Format Panel unfolds in three sessions: First, an academic paper session exploring the magic, myths, rituals, and traditions inhibiting and enabling transformations. Second, a dialogue session exploring the repertoires shaping our practices. Third, a creative session involving the co-construction of alternative repertoires. Alongside papers, we welcome creative interventions designed to deconstruct or develop repertoires for transformation.

Accepted contributions: