A week with Professor Naomi Goldenberg

By Michael Marten
May 17, 2012

At the end of last month, the Critical Religion Research Group at the University of Stirling, with which Ekklesia works in partnership, hosted Professor Naomi Goldenberg from the University of Ottawa.

We at CR organised a staff/postgraduate seminar for her in Stirling, took her to Aberdeen for a conference organised by Dr Trevor Stack (of the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law) on “Modernity and the Category of Religion” (at which our own Drs Timothy Fitzgerald and Alison Jasper also spoke), and organised a public lecture for her in London.

There were also a considerable number of engagements and interactions with colleagues and postgraduate students that took place apart from these public appearances.

There has been considerable interest in her proposal that religions can be thought of as “vestigial states”, and we look forward to her further development of this work.There are various audio items relating to these themes available on our website. This should enable further dissemination of her ideas.

In the meantime, we would like to thank Professor Goldenberg most heartily for her incredible energy and engagement this week: her readiness to debate so freely and so profoundly with us and so many other people in many different contexts, her graciousness with regard to the punishing schedule we organised for her, and her warm support for our work in the context of the Critical Religion Research Group – as well as her great sense of humour that encouraged and enriched us throughout the week.

We also want to record our sincere thanks to Simon Barrow of Ekklesia, our partner organisation, for his great engagement and support of this week – he has enabled so much to happen for us in relation to Professor Goldenberg’s visit, and we are immeasurably grateful to him.

Ekklesia co-sponsored the public lecture in London, and suggested Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church as a venue, who welcomed us warmly and to whom we are also grateful.

There are a number of our postgraduate students who have helped with promotion and publicity, teaching cover and various other tasks: in particular, Sean Frye, Shani Zour and Chloe Erdmann deserve our thanks.

Finally, for much 'behind the scenes' support and assistance, we are immensely grateful, as ever, to our wonderful secretarial team, and in particular Jane Barber-Fleming, without whom so many things we have sought to do for this week would simply not have happened.

Submitted on behalf of: Timothy Fitzgerald, Andrew Hass, Alison Jasper, Michael Marten

* More on/from Professor Goldenberg here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/naomigoldenberg More reactions and reflections on her visit and discourse will follow on Critical Religion and Ekklesia.


© Michael Marten is Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies at the University of Stirling and an Ekklesia associate. More on his work, background and publications history is summarised here.

Further hypertext links on subjects within this article are available at the University of Stirling site here: http://www.criticalreligion.stir.ac.uk/blog/

This article is one of a continuous series appearing on Ekklesia through our association with the University of Stirling Critical Religion group blog. CR is a research project bringing together academics from a wide range of backgrounds to explore the way 'religion' is employed as a a marker, construct and category in public and intellectual discourse. You can also follow Critical Religion on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StirCritRel

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