IAHR 2020

Kia ora koutou

It is with great regret that we announce the cancellation of the 22nd World Congress of the IAHR which was to have been held in Otago, New Zealand.
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Following our previous update on 10 March, we have continued to monitor the situation which (as we are sure you are all aware) has only become worse almost everywhere. Like many countries, New Zealand is now in a period of total lockdown – no-one is permitted to leave their home except to fetch essential items of food and fuel, or for short walks in their neighbourhood. The borders are closed to all but New Zealand citizens, residents and their immediate family members.

The hope, of course, is that such a lockdown will eliminate the virus within New Zealand and allow a return to normal life. But there can be no certainty that this will succeed. Even (or perhaps especially) if New Zealand is successful in eliminating the virus here, there will continue to be tight restrictions on who can travel to New Zealand. It is already clear that we cannot possibly meet in August. We have considered a long postponement, but for many of us (including the local organisers) the first priority in the coming months will be providing teaching to our students in order to minimize the impact on their education. It is not at all clear even when we might begin to be able to plan with any certainty for a large international gathering in the near future. We have also considered also the possibility of holding a virtual Congress online, but New Zealand’s time zone and limited IT infrastructure means that we are not well-placed to do so.

We will contact separately those who have already registered for the Congress, to make arrangements to refund registration, accommodation and excursion fees paid in advance. In the current environment (everyone in New Zealand working from home) this may take a little while and we ask again for your patience.

The Executive Committee of the IAHR will make a further announcement about the consequences of the cancellation for the business meetings of the IAHR that would have been conducted in New Zealand.

We would like to extend our thanks to all those who submitted abstracts. We thank also the academic programme committee who reviewed the abstracts and to the many others who supported the Congress in different way, and in particular the officers of the IAHR Executive Committee. We look forward to meeting again in happier times!

Will Sweetman and Satoko Fujiwara

The Point


The XXII Quinquennial World Congress of the IAHR, hosted by the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions, will take place in Dunedin, New Zealand August 23-29, 2020.

While welcoming contributions on any topic in the academic study of religion, this year’s Congress will have the theme of Centres and Peripheries.

From its earliest moments, the academic study of religion has consistently placed certain traditions, peoples, geographies, concepts, and institutions at the centre of its analyses, while at the same time relegating others to the periphery. The 2020 Congress invites scholars to reflect on these dynamics, to historicize and critique them, and to reconsider how, why and with what effects scholars of religion have engaged in acts of normalization and marginalization. The setting of New Zealand, distant from the historical centres of religious studies in North America and Europe, provides a fitting location for this examination as well as for considerations of other related dynamics. These include patterns of dominance and subjugation, transformation and repositioning and, especially, migration and indigeneity. While we welcome interdisciplinary, multi-method and comparative research, we ask that scholars submit within one of seven themed areas.

About Us
  • 1 aug 2019
    Submissions open

    Early bird registration opens

    31 DEC 2019

    Submissions close

    15 MAR 2020

    Outcomes notified

  • 1 MAY 2020
    Early bird registration closes

    Speaker registration closes

    30 JUN 2020
    Registration closes

    Final programme announced

    23 – 29 AUG 2020
Key Dates
Advisory Committee

Professor Tim Jensen (IAHR President, co-chair)
Professor Paul Morris (Victoria, co-chair)
Professor Peter Antes (Hannover)
Professor Giovanni Casadio (Salerno)
Professor Gregory Dawes (Otago)
Professor Majella Franzmann (Sydney)
Professor Giulia Gasparro (Messina)
Professor Armin Geertz (Århus)
Professor Ingvild S. Gilhus (Bergen)
Professor Rosalind I. J. Hackett (Tennessee)
Professor Jan G. Platvoet (Bunnik)
Professor Douglas Pratt (Auckland)
Professor Michael Pye (Marburg)
Professor Akio Tsukimoto (Tokyo)
Professor Donald Wiebe (Toronto)
Professor Yolotl Gomzález Torres (Mexico City)

Organising Committee

Professor Satoko Fujiwara (IAHR Secretary General, co-chair)
Associate Professor Will Sweetman (Otago, co-chair)
Dr Philippe Bornet (IAHR Treasurer)
Professor Joseph Bulbulia (Auckland)
Professor Carole Cusack (Sydney)
Dr Elizabeth Guthrie-Higbee (Otago)
Dr Anna Halafoff (Deakin)
Dr Rosemary Hancock (Notre Dame)
Dr Ann Hardy (Waikato)
Dr Christopher Hartney (Sydney)
Professor Tim Jensen (IAHR President)
Dr Eva Nisa (Victoria)
Associate Professor Ben Schonthal (Otago)
Dr John Shaver (Otago)
Dr Geoff Troughton (Victoria)
Dr Christopher van der Krogt (Massey)
  • Congress Update
    10 Mar 2020

    Like many colleagues, we are unsure about the likely impact of the COVID-19 virus (and the efforts being taken by governments to contain it) on plans for travel and conferences this year.  At the time of writing, the New Zealand Government has restricted travel both from and via Iran and mainland China for all who are not … Continue reading "Congress Update"

  • Six Months at the University of Otago
    1 Aug 2019 James Cox

    I am very much looking forward to returning to New Zealand in 2020 to attend the IAHR Congress.

  • What’s in a Mountain? What’s in the Ocean?
    17 Sep 2018 Aaron Hughes

    From the moment I landed to the moment I departed, both the natural beauty of Dunedin and the warmth and hospitality of colleagues at the university astounded me.

  • This is us.
    22 Mar 2019 Will Sweetman

    New Zealanders will never forget these attacks, or those who died.

  • Religion at Otago
    17 Sep 2018 Will Sweetman

    I loved every moment in Otago, even the public lectures.

  • Meet the locals
    1 Nov 2018 Will Sweetman

    Dunedin claims the title of New Zealand's wildlife capital


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