Cfp: ‘Catholic Church and the Holy See: Empirical and theoretical perspectives on the biggest religious transnational actor in world affairs’, 2015 EISA Conference

Call for papers: ‘Catholic Church and the Holy See: Empirical and theoretical perspectives on the biggest religious transnational actor in world affairs’, 9th Pan-European Conference of the European International Studies Association (EISA) (Section on ‘Transnational Religion, Dialogue and Conflict’, convened by Jeff Haynes and Luca Ozzano)
Wednesday 23 – Saturday 26 September 2015, Giardini Naxos, Sicily, Italy,
Convenor: Mariano Barbato,
Prospective participants can propose a paper by sending an abstract of up to 200 words by mail to the convenor at by January 15, 2015.

While the papacy and the Catholic Church were a source of legitimacy at the beginning of the global European expansion, the emergence of the sovereign territorial state in the 16th and 17th century undermined papal and Catholic influence, and the secular nation state of 19th century seemed to annihilate it. Despite secularization processes, the 20th century saw a revival of the papacy that can be measured in dramatically increased numbers of diplomatic relations (with almost all states and international organisations) and an equally dramatically increased numbers of faithful (the global number of Catholics went beyond the one-billion-threshold). Now the church and the pope are one of the biggest and most powerful transnational actors at the intersection of a global public sphere and the international world of states.
The panel welcomes papers that address the papacy and the Catholic Church as a case study from various perspectives of International Relations with either a more theoretical or more empirical interest. Papacy and Catholic actors played a role at the beginning and at the end of colonial empires and the Cold War, at peace settlements, reconciliation processes but also by legitimising resistance and war. They were engaged in the spread of norms from social justice to sexual behaviour, at times supporting and at times challenging liberal cosmopolitanism and capitalism. While Catholicism lost influence in home regions, itgained new grounds elsewhere thereby engaging with other religions and world views in intercultural and interreligious dialogue but also defending its stance and facing persecution. Accepting religious freedom as a virtue only since the second half of the 20th century, it turned into one of the loudest advocates of religious freedom.
Studies of the papacy and the Catholic Church can help to conceptualize the notion of the Transnational as ascribed to an actor but also to a community. They can serve as a transnational case study in the field of Sociology of International Relations with a particular focus on historical sociology of international relation. A focus on the institution and bureaucracy can analyse how the biggest transnational actor organizes itself. They can explain how a transnational practice can work and how it constitutes (soft) power, how religious actors resist the process of secularization, and how they manage keep or re-gain political influence in a transnational world.

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