Grammar of Religion -symposium 12 Dec 2018

The research network Sacred in secular societies funded by the Future Fund of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Helsinki organizes a one-day cross-disciplinary workshop Grammar of religion. International symposium to be held in Helsinki 12 Dec 2018. The aim of the event is to bring together scholars investigating language, culture and religion with the goal to understand religious discourse and language as a means of constructing and maintaining human communities.

The topic of the event is the language and symbolic systems of religion and sacred. The point of outcome is that religion is always a linguistic phenomenon with a characteristic vocabulary and discourse, and that a language-rooted perspective can substantially contribute to the understanding of religion and secularizing society. Among the methodologies employed in investigating these issues are critical discourse analysis, ethnolinguistics, etymology, conceptual history. The symposium will, however, be open for all kinds of scholarly approaches to the symposium’s theme.

Topic addressed in the symposium may include (but must not be confined to)

  • How is the concept of sacred constructed and maintained through religious language and practice?
  • What is the origin of concepts related to religion in different linguistic contexts?
  • Are there specific characteristics of the religious language? Are the features that characterize religious symbol systems universal or context-specific?
  • How does the religious language transform into other types of symbolic systems when the communities turn away from the traditional religions?


The symposium takes place at the Centre Campus of the University of Helsinki, Fabianinkatu 33 (Main building), Consistorium Hall.