Religions as a key concept in the study and practice of development would have seemed counter‐intuitive only one or two decades ago. Being closely linked to the enlightenment project and modernity, the very ideas and theories making up the foundations of development sought emancipation from the influence of religion and from the dominance of the Church over politics. With the emergence of modern development, religion has therefore been perceived as an obstacle to progress, as best illustrated in Auguste Comte vision of a positivist society. This might explain the reluctance to include religion in development studies, even if Weber’s sociology had already shown how religious beliefs are intricately linked to both the rational, capitalistic organisation of (formally) non‐coercive labour and the occidental form of legal‐rational rule. Despite a few exceptions it is only in the last decade that larger research programmes on religion and development have been launched (e.g DFID and Dutch MFA funding, the reflection process launched by the SDC and Swiss NGOs since 2002, and the research programme of the Ecumenical Institute for Andean Theology (ISEAT) in La Paz). Thereby, as the field of religious studies has shown, religions as subjects of analysis have proven very fruitful, be they considered as social facts, worldviews, institutions, or as inter‐subjective social structures. The lack of attention to religions and faiths belies the role religions play in the lives of most people, notably of those living in those regions that are most affected by international development cooperation. Against this background, the International Development Policy series opens a special dossier on religion and development contributing to this crucial but under‐investigated area.
We seek papers from researchers and scholars to be presented in a conference in Geneva early 2012 and then published in this special issue of the International Development Policy on religion and development. We call for papers covering one of these four distinct, yet partly overlapping, research themes:
1. Religions and development concepts and theories
2. Religiously inspired actors and faithbased organisations in development cooperation and practice
3. Religions and the impediments and opportunities for development policy and practice
4. Religions, worldviews, cosmologies and the limits of development studies as a naturalistic discipline
· Deadline for Draft papers: 1 October 2011
· Conference: February 2012
· Final papers: April 2012 (max. 7’000 words)
For more details please see attachment.