Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Brian Bocking
Ends and Beginnings: EASR Annual Conference / IAHR Special Conference
New Studies of Religions in Ireland: re-centreing the margins
Sodertorn University, Stockholm, Sweden
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
Since 2007 Ireland has seen rapid developments in the non-confessional academic study of religions (ASR) and Ireland is indeed no longer a ‘blind spot’ in the study of religions in Europe.  ASR had already been developing under other names, particularly in sociology, history and folklore. The first Study of Religions Department in Ireland, at University College Cork, accepted its first undergraduates in 2007 and now has four full-time staff, postdoctoral researchers, ca. 250 BA students and MA and PhD programmes.  The first really major Irish research project in ASR, Oliver Scharbrodt’s ‘Islam in Ireland’ team project (2008-11) at UCC has stimulated wide interest in Islam in the European periphery. A major 2009 landmark was the large, interdisciplinary and international ‘Alternative spiritualities, the New Age and New Religious Movements in Ireland’ conference held at Maynooth in Oct/Nov 2009. Laurence Cox’s pioneering social movements-based historical research at Maynooth on Buddhism and Ireland uncovered the remarkable Irish Buddhist pioneer U Dhammaloka, generating a further international collaborative project now rewriting the early history of European Buddhism.  James Kapalo and Lidia Guzy (UCC) are vigorously developing ASR research networks on Christian Orthodoxy and indigenous Indian religions respectively. In 2011, ISASR (the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions, now a member of IAHR and EASR) was founded. ISASR’s first annual conference, featuring 30 papers on religions spanning the globe from Ireland to China and Brazil, took place in May 2012.  This paper offers an overview of these and other recent developments in ASR in Ireland within the larger contexts of Irish globalisation and Europeanisation, changing demographics, the extraordinary history and size of the global Irish diaspora and the (limited) decline of the powerful, distinctively Irish form of 20th century national Catholicism.