Religious Heritage and Change in the North

Historical, Contemporary and Comparative Perspectives

Research conference in Turku/Åbo, 10-11 November 2022

This conference is organized jointly by the research network Religious History of the North (REHN, Umeå University), and the research project Changing Spaces: Ritual Buildings, Sacred Objects, and Human Sensemaking (Polin Institute/Åbo Akademi University).

The conference will offer an arena for scholarly reflection on religious heritage in times of change. We aspire to explore themes and cases, where religion and heritage are challenged, reinterpreted, or even reinforced due to changing realities of for instance social, economic, technical, and environmental character. While heritage has often been pondered as a contemporary concern in relation to the future, this conference also takes an interest in religious heritage and change in the past. We view the concept of religious heritage in a broad sense, including material and immaterial heritage, such as buildings, objects, or traditions being used by living religious communities, or that have lost religious meaning. In the past decades, many religious sites, objects, and even practices have been reframed primarily as heritage. In some cases, redundant Christian churches have been sold, sacred objects have been musealised, and religious customs have become folk festivities – implying perhaps a tension between religion and heritage. In other cases, deep interaction between heritage and practiced religion has enabled the continued existence of religious traditions or the emergence of new, alternative practises. The conference has a particular interest in religious heritage in northern Europe but also welcomes other, contrasting and comparative, contributions.

Please note that the keynote sessions are open and free of cost for everyone interested. The keynotes are held in Auditorium Brahe, Biskopsgatan 17.

For additional information about paper proposals, keynotes, and registration, please click on the links on the left hand side.


Practical details

The conference is held at Åbo Akademi University in Turku (Åbo), Finland. Should the Covid pandemic prevent an on-site conference, we may opt for a hybrid alternative. A conference fee of 40€ will be collected to cover costs for a conference dinner, coffee breaks, and running costs.

After the conference, the presenters will be given an opportunity to have their papers peer reviewed, and – if approved – published in an edited volume. All conference updates will be posted on the conference webpage.

Organising committee:

Jakob Dahlbacka, Åbo Akademi University

Stefan Gelfgren, Umeå University

Kim Groop, Åbo Akademi University

Daniel Lindmark, Umeå University

Carola Nordbäck, Åbo Akademi University and Mid Sweden University