The Archives of the Holy See: An Introduction

Istituto Sangalli per la storia e le culture religiose
Rome | 20–24 January 2020

The Archives of the Holy See: An Introduction

The Sangalli Institute for the religious history and cultures, Florence


The Sangalli Institute for the religious history and cultures of Florence is pleased to announce its first seminar on the Archives of the Holy See, which will be held in the third week of January 2020 in Rome. The key aim of the seminar is to introduce young scholars and students in Humanities to the main Archives of the Holy See, with special emphasis on the early-modern and modern period, and how to access and use the documentation preserved therein. Students will be introduced to the history of the Papal Curia and its archives and will learn how to read and examine the different types of documents preserved in the most important archives of the Holy See. This seminar will be particularly useful for any students enrolled in graduate programs in early-modern and modern history, but also for archivists, museum curators, and scholars who are currently working on the history of Roman Catholicism from different points of view. The seminar will consist of morning lectures on the history of the Papal Curia, archival research, and palaeography. The afternoon sessions will be devoted to visit a selected group of archives of the Holy See. The morning classes will include practical exercises and reading/comprehension of the documents.

During the seminar the following archives will be visited:

  1. Vatican Secret Archives
  2. Historical Archives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of People (de Propaganda Fide)
  3. Archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
  4. Archives of the Vicariate of Rome
  5. Archives of the Fabbrica di San Pietro

The seminar’s list of lectures will include:
Introduction to Archival Research in Rome; The Vatican Secret Archives: Brief History and Structure; Archival Research in the Archives of the Fabbrica di San Pietro; Archival Research in the Archives of the Vicariate of Rome; Archival Research in the Archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archival Research in the Archives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of People (de Propaganda Fide); Laboratories on Manuscripts & Documents: Language, Scripts, Conventions, Dating & Documentary Typologies.

The lectures and the laboratories will be held, among the others, by Proff. Matteo Binasco (University for foreigners of Siena); Benedetta Borello (University of Cassino); Irene Fosi (University of Chieti), Massimo C. Giannini (University of Teramo); Giuseppe Mrozek Eliszezynski (University of Chieti); Giovanni Pizzorusso (University of Chieti).

A basic knowledge of Italian is recommended, but no previous archival and palaeographic experience is required. Students will be encouraged to develop and improve their current researches by meeting with the archivists and the senior scholars in order to plan future research-trips to Rome, and more broadly to Italy.

Prospective applicants should send to the following e-mail address:

  1. a one-page CV
  2. a brief statement letter (no more than one A4 page) in which they explain how this seminar will improve their research.

The above email address should also be used for any queries pertaining to administrative details, course tuition and general information.

Cost of the seminar (including the morning lectures and visit to the archives): 1.000,00 € (one thousand euros).

Deadline for application: 1 December 2019


Source: (accessed on 1 October 2019)

Read more:
Rinald D’Souza, “The Shift in the Vatican Archives”, Historia Domus, 10 March 2019, (accessed on 1 October 2019)

Technique and Religion: Technical Cultures, Beliefs, Circulations from Antiquity until Today

International Symposium
Paris | 14–15 September 2020

Technique and Religion: Technical Cultures, Beliefs, Circulations from Antiquity until Today
Technique et religion: cultures techniques, croyances, circulations de l’Antiquité à nos jours

Organized by the Centre Alexandre-Koyré (EHESS, CNRS, MNHN), Paris


The purpose of this symposium is to offer the opportunity and the place to conduct a reflection on the relationship between technique and religion. Until recently, the history of social sciences has reserved a relatively marginal place to technique as a sphere of human activity, instead taking as objects of study areas where the coherence of a collective consciousness is manifest, notably religious practice. A separation was drawn between the primacy that then-emerging sociology granted to the religious fact as a basic social phenomenon (Emile Durkheim) on the one hand, and instrumental practices, which were therefore limited to the infra-social domain of individual organic subsistence, on the other hand. Technique and religion, two fundamental forms of discovery and of constitution of experience, have thus, in the social sciences, given rise to divergent “interests of knowledge” that historically account for the selection and formulation of objects of knowledge. Yet history of techniques and history of religion have never ceased to interact, often in a conflicting manner.

Interferences between techniques and religions belong, on one side, to the history of thought, of dogmas and of their interpretations. On the one hand, for instance stands Alfred Espinas’s model, i.e. the progressive secularization of techniques, which he believed marked the discontinuity between the archaic and classical periods. According to this scheme, the “physico-theological” period, which stretches from the 8th to the 5th century BC, was characterized by the influence of the religious feeling upon artisan action. Techniques were conceived as divine gifts and their transmission was exclusively based on imitation and tradition. The period of the organon, which extends from the 5th to the 4th century BC, is characterized by the increasing differentiation of professions and the secularization of practices. This model, which is based on a questionable use of sources, was endorsed by Jean-Pierre Vernant. Yet the time has come to problematize and discuss it. Another example is the movement of secularization of religions and desacralization of nature, associated with monotheisms, themselves perceived as levers of knowledge, of exploitation of nature and, possibly, of the pursuit of profit, since the Middle Ages or the Reformation, according to the authors. Technique is tightly interwoven into these rationales, but it has also been disconnected from them. As early as in the 19th century onwards, the cult of progress and industry –which has been studied thoroughly and has been renewed– paved the way for a secularized eschatology that some thinkers at the turn of the 20th century could magnify for their hope in the advent of socialism and of a society emancipated by labour. Critical and distanced analyses elaborated in the 20th century, whether by Lynn White, David Noble or Pierre Musso, highlight the dogmatic value of the sacralization of progress and its blinding effect. These approaches are currently subject to several types of questioning. How does the philosophy of techniques analyse these shifting movements between religion and technique? Should we follow Gilbert Simondon and his definition of universalism, as a shared “primitive” reality, technique being “even more primitive than religion”, because of its original, consubstantial relationship with life? What about anthropologists? Another set of questions address the current uses of the theoretical analyses of the link between technology and religion. The “Needham question” made religion a key argument to explain China’s so-called decline from the Song dynasty onwards. This theme, as well as techniques more broadly, is absent from Kenneth Pomeranz’s demonstration but it has been raised afresh by historians concerned with broadening the scope of the analysis of the Great Divergence. Which has ignited debates. Should macro-historical perspectives and generalizations be adopted to analyse interferences between technology and religion? Should we compare religious systems, cosmogonies or even temporal constructions on a global scale? Finally, what is meant by religion and by technique? Should we not, instead, evoke cosmogonies, representations of the universe, of its construction and harmony, and should we not disconnect the techniques from an economic (economist) perspective that associates them with the search for competitive advantages and profit, notions quite alien to the expectations placed in “effective action” in many a civilization?

This leads us to a second part of the reflection: the interferences between techniques and religion in the worlds of practice. The material dimension of techniques in religions is at the heart of much recent research which, far from adopting a level of generality as it often used to, adopts an anthropological and ethnological point of view (rituals, magic, ceremonies, conventual craft, etc.). Whilst the religious universe is often considered in the light of spirituality alone — that as the case for example for European scholars after the Reformation — many studies highlight the spirituality of techniques on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the importance of objects, gestures, techniques and even their codification in religious practice. These relationships also entail the production of images and performances (see early modern Christianity). Technical artefacts can represent religious ideas and, conversely, religious imagery can represent techniques and instruments. They differ from the great narratives and theorizations for they tap into other sources. What are the archives, objects, images for this material history of religions and techniques? What conceptual tools and methods of analysis are employed to conduct this study at the crossroads of the history of techniques and of the social sciences? Can these approaches renew generalizations on a global scale, through a localized analysis as it appears to be the case for Buddhist temples in China? Can they also allow for a reframing of the question of cosmogonies in a more concrete way? In this sense, what place should be given to magic and according to which definitions, if any comparative perspective should be implemented? Finally, intercultural circulation of rituals and artefacts, dynamics of borrowing and interactions between religious and technical circulations should also be tackled. The theme is vast and also questions the relationship of religious communities to techniques, be they their traditional assignments (including the negation of the relationship to techniques), their questioning, the community claims made by means of techniques, or the role of brokers, such as Jesuits (and their converts), in Asia and South America, and many other less visible intermediaries, who are beginning to be identified.

To answer these research questions, there is no restriction to one specific religion, territory or period. On the contrary, religions and cultural areas will be mobilized in their diversity in order to promote an inclusive conceptualization of the relationships between techniques and religions. Special attention will be also paid to developments and circulations at work across time and space. It will be the contributors’ task to define the frameworks and limits of these relationships, while highlighting the specific characteristics of the religions, spirituality, or techniques investigated, in order to foster collective reflection on these interactions and not to impose an a priori conception of their nature or forms. Finally, even though the symposium is based on a historical approach, this call is open to papers from various disciplines (anthropology, ethnology, sociology, philosophy, geography, economics).

  • Proposals should be submitted by the 30th of November 2019 to
  • It is required to join: the title of the paper, an abstract and a CV.
  • Languages: English and French.

Executive committee: Guillaume Carnino (Univ. of Technology, Compiègne/COSTECH), Liliane Hilaire-Pérez (Univ. of Paris/ICT-EHESS-CAK/IUF), Leopoldo Iribarren (EHESS/ANHIMA), Chuan-Hui Mau (Univ. Tsing Hua, Taïwan/ICT), Evelyne Oliel-Grausz (Univ. Paris1/IHMC), Sébastien Pautet (Univ. of Paris/ICT)

Scientific committee: Alain Arrault (EFEO), Gianenrico Bernasconi (Univ. of Neuchâtel), Cléo Carastro (EHESS/ANHIMA), Charlotte de Castelnau (Univ. of Paris/ICT), Philip Cho (Yonsei University, Underwood International College), Ludovic Coupaye (University College, London), Karel Davids (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Pierre-Antoine Fabre (EHESS/CeSoR), Hélène Joubert (Direction of collections for Africa, Museum of Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac), Pierre Musso (Univ. of Rennes/LAS), Perig Pitrou (CNRS/LAS), Patrick O’Brien (LSE), Olivier Raveux (CNRS/TELEMME), Catherine Verna (Univ. Paris 8/ARSCAN).



Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies

Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies

FALL: 2–4 December 2019
Somerville College, Oxford University

SPRING: 26–27 March 2020
Queens College, Oxford University

The upcoming 17th International Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies is a forum for discourse and presentation of papers by scholars who have a particular interest in the study of religion. Canon Brian Mountford MBE, former Vicar of St Mary’s Church and Fellow of St Hilda’s College in the University of Oxford, will host the meeting.

You are invited to make a presentation and lead a discussion of a relevant aspect of religious studies, or you may wish to participate as a panel member or as an observer. Your disquisition must adhere to an abstract of about 300 words approved by the Programme Committee of the Symposium. You are also encouraged to submit a paper, in keeping with your abstract, which may be published in an appropriate journal or book of conference proceedings. All papers presented for publication or inclusion in books or sponsored journals will be subject to peer review by external readers.


The listing is not intended to be exhaustive and is not conceived as placing constraints on the substance or type of research that may be presented at the Symposium

  • Religion, Politics, and Public Discourse
  • Religion & Climate Change
  • Conflict of Religions
  • Gender and Religion
  • Family Planning
  • Women’s Health Care
  • Separation of Church and State
  • State Funding of Clerical Schools
  • Religious Tolerance
  • Religion and Racial Segregation
  • History of World Christianity
  • Religion in America
  • African Religions
  • Native American Religions
  • Religious Traditions of Africa and the African Diaspora
  • Asian Religions
  • East Asian Religions (Buddhism, Indigenous Traditions)
  • Indian Religions (Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism)
  • Islamic Studies
  • Judaic Studies
  • Secularism
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Religious Ethics
  • Theology

Abstract Submissions

Abstract Submission and Registration is open for the Fall 2019 session and the Spring 2020 session of the Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies. Abstracts and Presentation Proposals are reviewed on a rolling basis and notifications sent within ten days of submission.

FALL Session
2-4 December 2019 at Somerville College, Oxford University
Abstract submission: 15 November 2019
Early registration: 16 September 2019
Regular registration: 17 November 2019

SPRING Session
26-27 March 2020 at the Queens College, Oxford University
Abstract submission: 8 March 2020
Early registration: 15 December 2020
Regular registration: 10 March 2020

Abstracts for the proposed papers are approved by the Programme Committee of the Symposium. The Committee evaluates the abstracts of the papers using four general criteria.

  • First, the presentation must advance knowledge as to theory and/or practice.
  • Second, the research supporting the paper must be well documented.
  • Third, content must evidence research competence.
  • Fourth, the paper, as finally submitted, must be well written, clear and stylistically correct.

Submit here:


(accessed on 10 October 2019)

XI International Conference on Missionary Linguistics

XI International Conference on Missionary Linguistics
Santa Rosa | 3-5 March 2020

Continuities and breaks in 19th century missionary linguistics

Universidad Nacional de La Pampa, Santa Rosa, La Pampa, Argentina

The International Conference on Missionary Linguistics focuses on older texts (colonial, postcolonial, mainly from missionaries) with the following objectives: the history of linguistics, linguistic documentation, translation studies and sociocultural analysis. The aim of historical linguistics is to describe older stages of languages as well as (processes of) language change, while the history of linguistics studies early thinking on languages, linguistic typologies and structures. These studies are often interrelated with those of the cultural context in which colonial and postcolonial societies developed. Non-Western languages are our main focus.

The interdisciplinary approach that has enriched so many areas of science is one of the determining marks of Missionary Linguistics. Understood as a branch of linguistic historiography, it presents as a differential characteristic, according to Hernández (2013: 225–226) the fact that it refers to linguistic works produced in non-Indo-European–“exotic”–languages, whose authors are persons representing the religious field, and serving a didactic purpose.

The contributions of typological-descriptive linguistics, history, anthropology, sociolinguistics, ethnolinguistics, and linguistic documentation converge in the transversal disciplinary space set up by Missionary Linguistics.  The result is a varied set of epistemological perspectives that come together for a better understanding of the linguistic descriptions that emerged during the process of evangelization, and which constitute the central object of the discipline, as well as the works of religious instruction that complement them: catechisms, confessionals, doctrines, sermons, etc.

Furthermore, as these works are socially, ideologically and theologically marked, they are anchored in a particular context and respond to a specific communicative need. The possibilities of analytical output based on missionary sources are enhanced through the perspective of pragmatics, religious studies, sociocultural analysis, translation and intercultural studies, among others.

The previous Conferences – Oslo, São Paulo, Macau-Hong Kong, Valladolid (Spain), Mérida (Mexico), Tokyo, Bremen, Lima, Manila – placed an emphasis on phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicography, translation and pragmatics. The tenth conference focused on sources from Asia:

Proposed Topic

This 11th Conference proposes as central topic – but not exclusive – the situation of Missionary Linguistics during the 19th century. In a context in which new colonial expansionist powers (and new missionary enterprises) emerge, the number of “exotic” languages to understand, describe and document increases substantially. This period, marked by linguistic diversity in space and time – languages that come from Africa, Australia and northern and southern America, as well as the romantic interest for dialects as a heritage of the past – favours reflections about the relationship between language, thought and culture. The knowledge of different languages also contributes to the development of comparative linguistics, inspired in turn by advances in the natural sciences.

Some possible lines of research:

  • Missionary linguistics in the 19th century: inheritances and innovations regarding methodology, objectives, recipients and pedagogical strategies;
  • Linguistic works of the missionaries in the context of 19th-century colonialism and decolonization processes;
  • Reception and use of the missionary linguistic documentation for academic purposes;
  • Contributions of missionary linguistics for the development of modern linguistic theory;
  • Technical advances in the (re)edition of missionary sources.

As in the previous Conferences, contributions outside the proposed topics are equally welcome, as long as they conform with the time limit of ca. 1920.

Abstracts Submissions

Abstracts of papers (30 minutes including discussion) should contain the name of the speaker, full contact address (including email address), the title and a summary of the paper (maximally 500 words).

Deadline for abstracts: November 1st, 2019.

Notification of acceptance: December 1st, 2019.



Source: (accessed on 5 October 2019)


This page is currently being updated.


This page is currently being updated.


This page is currently being updated.


The Society of Jesus is a transnational Catholic religious order whose mission is spread across six continents. While its headquarters are situated in Rome, its administrative units are made up of provinces.

Jesuit province territories do not necessarily follow national boundaries and are often multicultural as well as multilingual. Similarly, their territories have constantly been reconfigured according to the changing needs of the mission of the Society of Jesus.1

Clusters of provinces are then grouped together for purposes of collaboration and networking into six larger assistancies:

  • Africa-Madagascar: Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM)
  • América Latina: Conferencia de Provinciales en América Latina y El Caribe (CPAL)
  • Asia Pacific: Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP)
  • Canada-USA: Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States (JCCU)
  • Europe: Jesuit Conference of European Provincials (JCEP)
  • South Asia: Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA)


  1. Arturo Sosa SJ, “So why change the configuration of the Jesuit “Provinces”?”, Interviews, Curia Generalizia della Compagnia di Gesù, 18 October 2019, (accessed on 22 October 2019)