CALL FOR PAPERS – Religion and Welfare in the European Borderlands from the Late 19th Century to the Present

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The ERC SOCIOBORD and “Who cares in Europe?” Cost Action’s conference

During the last two decades one can observe a growing research interest in the role of religion in past and present developments of modern welfare regimes. By going beyond the limitations of the secularization and modernization theses embedded in earlier investigations into the histories of European social protection from the 1900s onwards, the merger of welfare and religious studies has brought insights, for example, into the long-term impact of religious doctrines in shaping secularized national welfare regimes, the importance of Christian parties in the mobilization for or against the specific protection strategies, and the overall influence of religious/secular tensions in shaping different European models of welfare states.

This conference aims to bring the flourishing field of borderland studies as a new, third party to research on religion and welfare, thus shifting away from narratives on European social assistance carried from the perspective of central states or “national” systems of protection. We seek submissions that explicitly put “welfare”, “religion” and “border/borderland” in a dialog in which the analytical attention to the three phenomena is evenly distributed. The range of possible themes covered by an exchange between the fields of borderland studies, religious studies and studies of European welfare is vast. Below, we suggest several key research questions/themes around which to shape your proposals:

  • How did the tensions between “modern” schemes of welfare provision and religious patterns of social assistance unfold in the European borderland regions? Did this tension/conflict evolve along the same trajectory and periodization as established in the research in the “national” histories of welfare?
  • What does the proximity of a political border do to religion, religious conviction, and the ways religious belonging is articulated through social assistance? In other word, how is religion made/altered through the proximity of existing or aspirational borders?
  • Religion as a basis of ethnic or national precategorization in the patterns of social assistance
  • How are borders created/confirmed/reinforced/contested/transformed/experienced through religious pluralism and religiously motivated social provision? Alternatively, how is religion transformed through practices of social assistance in proximity to national borders or by experiences of border crossing?
  • Investigations into border making and dismantling narratives and strategies in the everyday practices of religiously motivated social assistance
  • The experience of border crossing reflected in the practices of religious providers and recipients of religious assistance
  • Religiously motivated social assistance in the borderland regions as sites of contestation, spaces of possibility, political arenas, emotional communities, scenes of experience
  • Religiously inspired social assistance in the borderlands as sites of confessional tension between “majority” – “minority” churches as well as religious, ethnonational and political conflicts
  • Borders, religion and welfare as mutually reinforcing or competing signifiers of power and instruments of governmentality

Co-organized by the ERC SOCIOBORD 882549 ( and “Who Cares in Europe?” COST Action 18119 (, the conference welcomes presentations in the fields of history, ethnography, anthropology, religious studies, sociology, geography. Proposals should be no longer than 500 words, including a biographical note (150 words).

The event will take place in Florence, Italy between December 12-13, 2022.
The submission deadline is June 30, 2022, and responses will be given on July 2, 2022. The advanced drafts of the papers (approx. 6000 words) are due by November 2, 2022.

The conference’s organizers plan to publish selected articles in a form of a special issue or an edited volume. Please send your complete submission to Ellianna Farazi, [email protected]

For further questions, please contact

Pirjo Markkola, [email protected] or Dominika Gruziel, [email protected]

Sociobord has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 882549).

“Who Cares in Europe?” COST Action is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020

For more information, please click here

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