UCSIA Summer School

Religion Culture Society

God on Our Side? Questioning Theological Narratives of Nationalism, Populism and Conservatism

25-30 August 2024 | Antwerp, Belgium

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The central topic of the UCSIA Summer Schools on Religion, Culture & Society from 2024 to 2026 is Religion & Politics: (Dis)Entanglements in Communities & Societies. During the upcoming three editions of the summer school, we will explore the intersection of religion and politics, the communities in which they emerge and function, and the injustices they entail or critique.

Religion & politics revisited

For the past twenty years, the UCSIA summer schools have, in one way or another, dealt with the entanglement between political and religious phenomena in culture and society. It was not until the summer school of 2009 that ‘Religion & Politics’ was explicitly addressed as the overarching theme, including the relationship between religion, pluralism and nationalism. Observing contemporary (geo)political shifts, these entanglements have proven relevant over the past fifteen years. The theoretical frameworks on the relationship between religion and politics, such as the secularization thesis or the clash of civilizations thesis have in the meantime been thoroughly criticized by many scholars, following new insights from decolonial, postcolonial, feminist, gender and environmental studies.

Inspired by the participants in the preparatory workshop, the steering committee decided that the time was right to put debates on ‘Religion & Politics’ back on the summer school agenda in order to interrogate the ambivalence of religion, recognizing its central place in community-building and conflict, violence and healing. The upcoming summer schools will thus address the exchanges, tensions and boundaries between theological and political issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. For this analysis, participants are invited to reflect on how the nation is envisioned by theologically inspired politics as either a unified or fragmented entity, and the concrete consequences this view entails. Moreover, we are interested in analysing the interaction between religion and politics in relation to global challenges such as climate change, migration, conflict and peacebuilding.

Fostering interdisciplinary dialogue

The UCSIA Summer School for PhD and postdoctoral students with a research interest in religion is designed to foster the dialogue between peers from different backgrounds and disciplines. By doing so, it seeks to critically analyze normative stances and contemporary academic tendencies that inform their research. In this spirit, the programme strives to encourage students to question the power dynamics and social entanglements that influence knowledge production.


Koningstraat 2
B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium


Gilke Gunst (she/her)
Project Coordinator Religion, Culture & Society | Jesuit Heritage
+32(0)3 265 95 67


Office: 9am – 5pm M-F

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