University of Bergamo (Italy), 6-9 June 2018

PANEL: Experiencing the Sacred between Religion and Spirituality


Stefania Palmisano (Università di Torino)

Nicola Pannofino (Università di Torino)

Emily Pierini (University of Wales Trinity Saint David / The American University of Rome)


‘Religion’ and ‘Spirituality’ are terms of a binomial that is at the core of recent debates in the field of religious studies. Their relation is variably understood either as opposition or complementarity. In the first instance, according to the formula ‘spiritual but not religious’ used by those who cultivate a personal relationship with the transcendent beyond institutionalized religions. In the latter one, spirituality expresses the subjective dimension of religion. Both these definitions emphasize lived experience, and especially a sacred that permeates everyday practices, close to the body, to sensory perception and to the agency of the person in transition between multiple secular spheres of society.

 In order to delve into this field, we invite contributions grounded in ethnographic research focussing upon the relationship between religion and spirituality in the concrete social contexts of everyday life, and that stress a methodological reflection upon the status of ethnography in the study of lived religion and spirituality.

Some of the areas around which this theme can be developed are:

-        spirituality and religion in everyday life

-        spirituality and gender

-        body, emotions and spirituality

-        the perceptive dimension in the experience of the sacred

-        health, wellbeing and spirituality

-        spirituality and the notion of personhood

-        creative expressions of the religious in secular contexts

-     the ethnography of spirituality: how the ethnographer perceives the experiences of others



 Submission deadline: 15 January 2018.

Acceptance of proposals will be notified by 12 March 2018.

Contributors must register by 16 April 2018 to be included in the programme.

To submit your proposal, please send an e-mail to the panel convenors and to the conference committee (, indicating:

-        the title of the chosen session;

-        the title of your talk and an abstract of max. 1,000 words (.doc, .docx, .odt, .txt, .rtf); 

-        your contact details (full name, e-mail, post address and affiliation) and those of your 
co-author/s, if any;

-         those who wish may also send a short video talk (2 min. max.), not necessarily on your proposed talk but a sort of teaser trailer for it (by sending the video, you thereby allow the organizing committee to upload the video at its discretion, in full or cut form, on the youtube channel of Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa : . 

Abstracts (and video talks) must be submitted in English. The official languages of the conference, however, are Italian, English, and French. For each session, languages will be used on the basis of the composition of participants.

 Conference website: