Modern Societies and the Science of Religions: Studies in Honour of Lammert Leertouwer

By Gerard Wiegers | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The present volume grew from an international conference on 'Modern Societies and the Science of Religion', organised by Jan Platvoet and Gerard Wiegers, at the initiative of the Department of History of Religions and the Comparative Study of Religions of Leiden University (May 1997). The event that gave rise to the conference was the retirement of Dr Lammert Leertouwer from the Chair of History of Religions and the Comparative Study of Religions.

The theme of the conference was discussed and decided upon by the Board of the Department, not only because it was important in itself, but also because Leertouwer himself has always shown great interest in the religious, social and political contexts of the Science of Religions and reflected on it in quite a few of his publications. This interest is clearly reflected by his curriculum vitae, the chronological list of his publications, and the selective list of his other academic and administrative responsibilities, included in the present volume. Upon being informed about the plans for a conference, he devoted his valedictory address to this theme with great enthusiasm. It is included in the present volume as well.

The speakers at the conference were asked to focus on the changes in a selected number of modern societies, which influence the pursuit of the Science of Religions in those societies. By which socio-political and cultural factors is the Science of Religions affected? Which factors stimulate it, or, which factors impede its flourishing? How do they influence the position and tasks of the Science of Religions? Did such changes lead to changes in its field of study, methodology, and theories? And what are the prospects for the discipline?

Most contributions to the present volume are the revised and expanded versions of papers presented to the said conference. In addition, during and after conference, the organisers were urged to seek contributions on countries such as France and Turkey in order to present a more complete picture of the several 'national' contexts of the scholarly study of religions and decided to approach authors willing to write about these countries. Through the help of our colleagues, Sjoerd van Koningsveld (Leiden) and Jacques Waardenburg (Lausanne), we found Ömer Faruk Harman, Ali Murat Yel, Michael

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