Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap
Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion

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Conference on the religious history of the Low Countries in the 1960s

In historiography and in the public eye the ‘sixties’ are taken as a period of massive social change. This is especially true for the religious history. Nobody can escape the terms of ‘depillarization’, ‘unchurching’, ‘sexual revolution’, ‘democratization’ and ‘secularization’. In most recent Dutch and Belgian debates about political identity and public morality the sixties play a dominant part. However, digesting the “legacy of the sixties” in academic research has hardly begun. Studies on religion in this decade often miss a clear connection with the social, political and cultural histories of the ‘sixties’ and vice versa. Its religious heritage has gone unnoticed and is under-appreciated.
While empty churches and secularization dominate the – historiographical – image of the “sixties”, it would be rewarding to re-examine the dynamics of church, faith, and religion in this period. Was this truly the phase of rapid decline? If so, how should historians document and understand this implosion? Did the tracks of national identity, public morality and Christianity start to diverge, and were these processes similar or different in Belgium and the Netherlands? What would happen when we turn the questions upside down: where and how did religion manifest itself during these seismic social transitions? Which new shapes of religious engagement emerged? How did the Belgian and Dutch “sixties” contemporaries interpret the religious challenges en developments, the idea of secularization and the search for a unifying public morality? Was this period of change also a time of conservation?
More information, see the Call for Papers.