Religion and revolution. The “sixties” and the history of religion in the Low Countries - Trajecta Conference 2020

Country: Netherlands

City: Amsterdam

Abstr. due: 15.02.2020

Dates: 11.06.20 — 12.06.20

Area Of Sciences: History and archeology; Philosophy;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


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?

Trajecta is an academic peer-reviewed journal on religion, culture and society in the Low Countries. This annual conference seeks to reassess the religious history of the ‘sixties’ and invites senior and junior researchers to submit proposals for the following themes:

Religion and the public domain

  • Debates about national identity, public morality and religion
  • Religious coping with “Auschwitz”
  • Narratives and agendas of secularization
  • Progressive theology and practices
  • Impact on current national identities

Globalization and migration

  • Migration and religion (Islam, Hinduism)
  • Rise of new religious groups (evangelicals, Calvinist-pietist movements, Buddhism, ‘Eastern religions’, lay movements, charismatic renewal)
  • Transnational religious connections in the Benelux and Europe
  • Development work alongside/after missions

Religion and politics

  • Religion and the sexual revolution
  • Gender and feminization of religion
  • Cold War and religious engagement
  • The role of the USA and North-American culture in religions and secularization
  • The state of Israël and Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Heritage and imagination of the “sixties”

  • The religious “sixties” in ego documents
  • Tv, film, media and religion
  • Magic, amulets and folk religion
  • Religion and space: suburbs, urbanization, country side
  • Sources and actors of preserving tradition
  • Religious material culture: relics of the sixties

The organizers particularly welcome proposals and panels with interreligious and interdisciplinary combinations. A selection of the papers will be published in a special issue of Trajecta after peer review. PhD and research MA students are invited to submit poster presentations about (current) research projects in religious history.

The main language will be Dutch, but English presentations are more than welcome. The conference takes place on June 11 and 12, 2020 in Ossendrecht and functions in the preparation of a future exhibit on the sixties in Museum Het Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, one of the partner organizations of this conference.

Conference Web-Site: