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Asia: Salvage and Salvation: Religion, Disaster Relief, and Reconstruction in Asia

Sunday 15 April 2012, by siawi3

Source :

April 13, 2012

CALL FOR PAPERS – Salvage and Salvation: Religion, Disaster Relief,
and Reconstruction in Asia.

- Dates: 22 (Thursday) and 23 (Friday) November 2012
- Venue: Asia Research Institute
- Seminar Room
- Tower Block Level 10, 469A Bukit Timah Road
- National University of Singapore
- Bukit Timah Campus

- Organisers:
- Dr. Philip Fountain
- Dr. Levi McLaughlin

What does it mean to offer salvation in the midst of catastrophe? What
dynamics are in play at the intersection of religion and disaster
relief in Asia? Over the past few years, Asia has witnessed frequent
massive and high profile disasters, notably the Indian Ocean tsunami
(2004), the Kashmir earthquake (2005), Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar
(2008), the Pakistan floods of 2010, and most recently the 2011
earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in northeast Japan. In the
wake of these tragedies – and the numerous smaller-scale disasters
that also afflict the region – religious organizations have played
pivotal roles in disaster response initiatives. Millions of relief
workers and billions of dollars in aid have been mobilized through
their networks. However, despite having a profound impact on the lives
of disaster victims, these initiatives have gone largely
under-reported, and there has been no comprehensive attempt to present
research on religion and relief in contemporary Asia. ‘Salvage and
Salvation’ will be the first interdisciplinary conference to bring
together researchers, humanitarian workers, and policy makers to
address this theme.

Analysis of religion and disaster relief introduces practical and
theoretical concerns. Understanding the full ramifications of disaster
requires attention to specific religions involved in recovery and the
different positions they assume. Additionally, it cannot be presumed
that Asian states are religiously neutral. Disasters and relief
efforts open new forms of communality among affected populations,
thereby altering religion and politics and inspiring novel social and
spiritual trajectories. Humanitarian actors and grassroots
mobilizations are also deeply implicated in these shifts. Even
self-consciously secular humanitarian organizations inevitably engage
with the religious realities they encounter in their disaster
responses through varying strategies of collaboration, accommodation,
or exclusion of different religious activities. A region-wide
comparative approach to disaster and recovery should be concerned with
the broadest possible spectrum of what ‘salvation’ may comprise,
whether associated with the state or non-governmental actors or
whether designated ‘religious’ or ‘secular.’

- We are seeking paper presentation proposals that will address the
following topics (and related themes) as they relate to the Asian
- • Analysis of the types of humanitarian work undertaken by Buddhist,
Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and other religious groups in response to
disasters, including rescue operations, medical and post-traumatic
care, fundraising, reconstruction, mitigation, proselytizing,
spiritual counseling, and other interventions
- • Doctrinal, ritual, clerical, and/or institutional innovations
occasioned by religious disaster responses
- • Imaginations and perceptions of religion by state actors and
humanitarian organizations
- • Collaborations between religious organizations, state actors,
humanitarian organizations, and community groups in disaster response
- • Emerging transnational networks forged between religious groups,
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donor organizations, and other
actors engaged in disaster responses
- • Reconfigurations of local communities following religious and/or
secular disaster relief initiatives
- • Contrasting visions of ‘salvation’ offered in response to disasters
and the ramifications of these visions

Papers from any field in the humanities or social sciences that employ
any type of methodology are welcome. We are particularly interested in
submissions that employ data from fieldwork. Analytical papers by
development practitioners or representatives of religious
institutions/groups drawing on field experience relevant to this topic
are also encouraged.


Paper proposals must be for original, previously unpublished work.
Selected papers from the conference proceedings will be compiled for
an edited volume. Proposals should include a title, abstract (250-300
words), and a brief personal biography (150 words). For more detailed
guidelines or questions regarding specific paper proposals, and for
obtaining a Paper Proposal Form, please contact the conference

Please submit all applications to Dr Philip Fountain
(aripmf by 15 May 2012. Successful applicants will be
notified by 15 June 2012 and will be required to send a draft paper
(5,000-8,000 words) by 15 October 2012. Travel and accommodation
support is available from the Asia Research Institute, depending on
need and availability of funds.


- Conference Convenors
- Dr Philip FOUNTAIN aripmf
- Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
- Dr Levi MCLAUGHLIN lmclaug2
- North Carolina State University
- Ms. Valerie Yeo
- Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
- Email: valerie.yeo