Vol 17, No 3 (2015): Religion, Art and Performance

The two themes of the BASR conference at the Open University 3-5th September were 'Religion, Art and Performance' and 'Cutting Edge'. The papers invited for submission t this edition of Diskus related primarily to the first conference theme.

The first article is a study of three Maori films by Louise Child, titled 'Maori Arts as Film Art: An Analysis of Ritual and Myth in Whale Rider, Once Were Warriors and Te Rua'. The next article by Eva Seegers, 'The Innovative Stūpa Project in Andalusia, Spain', is, as the subtitle indicates, 'A Discussion on Visual Representations of Tibetan Buddhist Art in Europe,' with a particular focus on one on the Costa del Sol in Andalusia. The third leads us to consider 'performance', with the relationship between spirits and the body in Rebeccas Lynch's article 'The Devil in the Details: Materiality and the Spirit in a Trinidadian Village'.

In time we hope to include Leonard Primiano's keynote address, 'The Ethnography of a Liar: The Question of Deception in the Performance of a Religous Life History', about Ann Ameen in Newfoundland, as well as articles by Robert Wallis, on 'Destabilising the universality of art/shamanism – from cave painting to the white cube', and Marion Bowman, on 'Making a Scene: Religion, Art and Performance in the Kraków szopka tradition'.

Vol 17, No 2 (2015): Research among spirits, ghosts and deities

Research among spirits, ghosts and deities is the topic of this special issue of Diskus about studying non-ordinary realities. The articles were developed from presentations delivered at the annual conference of the British Association for Study of Religions held at the Open University in Milton Keynes in September 2014.

Vol 17, No 1 (2015): Interrogating Integrity: reflections on the insider/outsider debate

Guest editors: Aston Katie, Helen Cornish and Aimee Joyce. This special edition of DISKUS will develop successful roundtable discussions held at the BASR conference at Milton Keynes in 2014 on the insider/outsider status in research in faith communities. The special edition will offer reflexive perspectives on research experience and will be relevant to researchers across academic disciplines and research institutes. It will provide a valuable counterpoint to current publications concerned with these issues.


Vol 16, No 3 (2014): Religion, Migration, Mutation

Editorial Introduction

DISKUS 16 arises from the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions hosted by the BASR at Liverpool Hope University, 3-6 September 2013. The conference (was also a Special Conference of the International Association for the History of Religions [IAHR]) was very well attended with 70 panels, plus three keynote lectures. Two special editions of DISKUS emerged out of the many organised panels: DISKUS 16.1 on Religion and Music, guest edited by Owen Coggins, and DISKUS 16.2 on The Problem with Numbers in the Study of Religions, guest edited by Bettina Schmidt, published earlier in the year.

This final edition, DISKUS 16.3, contains a selection of papers touching the 2013 conference theme ‘Religion, Migration, Mutation’. In the first article, Brian Bocking, Laurence Cox and Shin'ichi Yoshinaga challenge assumptions by scholars about the earliest Buddhist missions to the West and demonstrate that the Japanese-sponsored ‘Buddhist Propagation Society’ in 1889, led by Irish-born Charles Pfoundes, predates other known missions.

The second article, by Mel Prideaux with Jo Merrygold, provides an intellectual history of The Community Religions Project, founded in the mid-1970s by Michael Pye, Ursula King and William Weaver at the University of Leeds, which conducted ethnographic studies of religious diversity and pluralism in the Leeds-Bradford area, challenging religious and ethnic categories and highlighting methodological issues in order to provide a framework for studying religions in the UK.

The third article provides a contemporary study of a ‘migrant religion’ in a particular context, ‘Santo Daime in Ireland: A “Work” in Process’ by Gillian Watt, focussing on ritual activity. Especially under consideration is the conflict with law over the use of ayahuasca, ‘Daime’, and Ireland’s conflicting responses to new religious activities in a ‘post-catholic’ Republic.

The fourth article, ‘Elsewhere: seeking alternatives to European understandings of “religion”,’ by Graham Harvey is based on his keynote address and includes the question of how one would show aliens ‘religion’, opening up the problem of categorisation. In order to overcome the European legacy in the study of religion, Harvey proposes we start ‘elsewhere’ to bring in alternative perspectives. This and the other three articles challenge us to reflect on our approaches to the study of (what the scholar has called) ‘religion’, whether local, ‘migrant’ or elsewhere.

Suzanne Owen,

DISKUS coordinating editor,

2 December 2014


Vol 15 (2013)

Editorial Introduction

This, the 15th edition of DISKUS, arises from the annual conference of the British Association for the Study of Religions that took place 5-7 September 2012 at the University of Winchester. The theme of the conference was ‘Borders, Boundaries and Transgressions: within and between religions’. The many excellent papers presented at the conference engaged with the theme in diverse ways, as indicated by the papers included here, which also highlight the international connections of the BASR conference, both in terms of content and presenters. ‘Religious Emotions and Religious Peacebuilding: The Case of Bojayá (Colombia)’, by Sandra Rios of Aberdeen University, broadens the concept of ‘religious peacebuilding’ by introducing aspects of religious emotions and social memory in her sociological study of the 2002 massacre at a Catholic church. The paper by Nour Farra-Haddad of Saint Joseph University, ‘Dismantling Religious Boundaries by Sharing the Baraka through Pilgrimages in Lebanon’, gives an account of Muslim and Christian activities at the shrines of popular saints and prophets, showing a high degree of ‘porousness’ between putatively different religions.

It is also a pleasure to include the keynote address by Douglas Pratt of the University of Waikato in New Zealand and currently President of the Australian Association for the Study of Religions (AASR). His paper on ‘Exclusivist Boundaries and Extremist Transgressions: Persistence and Problems of Religion’ sparked lively discussion at the conference as it outlined a model for understanding the nature of the ‘persistence of religion’ by looking at the problem of exclusivism and extremism. 

Many thanks to the BASR president, Graham Harvey, for continued support during the handing-over of DISKUS to myself, the new coordinating editor.

Suzanne Owen

25 October 2013


Vol 13 (2012)

This issue of DISKUS arises from the 2011 BASR annual conference which was hosted at Durham University. The theme of the conference was ritual knowledge and knowing. The following articles contreibute significantly to understanding of and debate about ritual and ways of knowing. They illustrate the vitality of ritual studies within and beyond the study of religion(s) not only by the diversity of empirical data analysed but also by the diversity of approaches taken. We are therefore offered both facts and approaches to consider and bring into dialogue with our own research and teaching interests. I hope you will find these articles as interesting and provocative as I have.

Graham Harvey (President, BASR, and ex-coordinating editor of Diskus)


Vol 12 (2011)

Editorial Introduction

This issue of DISKUS arises from the 2010 BASR annual conference which was hosted at Birmingham University. It has been somewhat delayed in production but contains some important and interesting articles. These include Prof Eileen Barker's discussion of ageing in New Religions, Dr Amy Whitehead's discussion statue devotion among Catholics and Goddess devotees, and a review essay by Prof Peter Harvey.

In this issue, for the first time, articles are published as pdf files. We hope this makes it more straightforward to cite work from the journal, as well as maintaining its high quality.

Finally, I am now handing over the role of editorial co-ordinator to Dr Suzanne Owen, Leeds Trinity University College.

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