Religion in Consumer Society: Perspectives from Asia

Odysseus Stone's picture
Call for Papers
June 18, 2018 to June 20, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Business History / Studies

Dear friends, collegues and scholars,

We at the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies are happy to announce a call for papers for our panel at the 10th Asian Dynamics Initiative annual conference "Transition and Disruption in Asia." 

Religion in Consumer Society: Perspectives from Asia 

Over the past three decades, we have witnessed astonishing economic growth and the emergence of new markets and cultures of consumption across Asia. Rather than being eclipsed by such ‘late modern’ transformations, traditional and new forms of religion are intertwined with contemporary consumer cultures. Entailing the mediation of “various areas of social life … through market relations in the form of the consumption of commodities,” a consumer culture is one in which “marketization, commoditization, advertisement and branding are fundamental processes” (Gauthier and Martikainen 2013: 3). These processes coalesce in the growth of commercialized religion. This includes the sale for profit of: (i) experiences, such as meditation courses and pilgrimage tourism; (ii) messages, including mediatized religious teachings in the form of books, games, and audio-visual recordings; and (iii) things: material objects such as statues and icons that can function as both a decoration and recipient of offerings. Such religious commerce is certainly nothing new, but the scale and scope is. Mass-production enables an endless supply of a variety of religious products and services that are accessible and affordable to consumers far beyond historical religious and economic networks.

As part of the 10th Annual International Asian Dynamics Initiative (ADI) Conference "Transition and Disruption in Asia" this interdisciplinary panel seeks to bring together scholars working on religion in Asia's contemporary consumer soceities, spanning a range of reigions and including both rural and urban contexts. Avoiding normative approaches to consumption and commodification, papers will draw on original empirical research to consider themes such as:

1. The impact of consumer society on the rituals, identities, material cultures, traditions, values, ethics, world-views, ways of life, philosophies, sciences, even the secularisms associated with different religions in Asia;

2. The new forms that symbols, objects, teachings and practices assume as they are mass-produced, packaged and marketed for consumption and/or made into profitable businesses;

3. The analytical gains and limitations of using economic terminology in the study of contemporary religions.

Conveners: Trine Brox, Jane Caple and Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg, Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

Please submit your abstract or full panel proposal in a Word document to Marie Yoshida ( by 1 March 2018.

Your submission should include:

  • Name, affiliation, short bio
  • Abstract including title, argument and methodology (approx 250 words)
  • Intended panel (“Religion in Consumer Society: Perspectives from Asia”)

Conveners and organizing committee will assess the submissions and inform you of the decision soon hereafter.


Odysseus Stone (CCBS, Copenhagen University) <>


Contact Info: 

Odysseus Stone

Research assistant with the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies (Copenhagen Univeristy)


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