NaKaN Learned Society's International Conference: "The Sacred, the Spiritual and The Religious in Contemporary Global Societies"


African Studies & History Epistemology & Scientific History Ethnic & Cultural Studies Humanities, Literature & Arts (General) Music & Musicology Philosophy Religion Visual Arts Drama & Theater Arts Anthropology

NaKaN Learned Society’s mission is to make research in the field of cultural studies, arts, humanities, and political science accessible to the global academic community. One way we do this is to invite researchers to produce specific, cross-disciplinary or transdisciplinary research in connected fields, by freely sharing that knowledge with a broad audience, and promoting it to the public.

We invite you to join our efforts with our winter 2023 thematic call for papers by participating to and attending hybrid conference that will be held online and in-person on December 14th, 2023. Contributors will be invited to submit their papers for the 7th issue of NaKaN, A Journal of Cultural Studies (ISSN: 2779-6981).

Participation offers:

  • The opportunity to share your (or others’) research with a larger, diverse audience

  • A fully supported editing process with feedback from scientific and accessibility focused peers

  • The chance to help increase public knowledge about the emerging issue developed in our Call for Papers.

  • An enhancement of your scientific/academic network.

This year, we are asking for papers on the topic “The Sacred, the Spiritual and The Religious in Contemporary Global Societies”, including but not limited to the following fields:

  • Cultural anthropology

  • Sociology

  • Literature

  • Visual and Performing Arts

  • Literature

  • Political Science

  • Theology


Proposals should reflect a critical and innovative approach and be approximately 400 words (1 page). Contributors are kindly requested to add a short bio-biographical notice to their abstract. Proposals can provide an introduction to well-established knowledge, a general overview of an area of research, or a more detailed dive into specific facets of an area of research. Please see below for more details. (ENG) (FR)

If you are interested in submitting a propose, please notify us of your intention to participate by 30 October 2023. We look forward to hearing from you!




Universalized, secular and democratic post-modern societies, under the aegis of unbridled freedom and limitless growth, are leading us today, more than ever, to reinterrogate man's relationship with his beliefs in his biocenosis. Thinking of the sacred, the spiritual, the religious, from an absolute point of view, involves a semantic, semiotic and implex mental hierarchy understood in a dichotomous relationship focused on paradigmatic dyads:

 city / countryside  nature / culture  civilization / barbarism  deep country / imaginary country  dream country / real country  autochthony / universality  universal / diversel (pluriversal)

 emic point of view (from within the social group) / etic point of view (from the

observer's point of view)

The relationship between these terms depends on one's perspective. We must recognize that there is a differentiation between the terms sacred/spiritual/religious, but also that it is difficult to establish a boundary between these notions.

We know that the sacred is a particular status linked to myths that refers to the subject, to essence, to ontological depth and its relationship to the divine sphere, to the notion of interiority, of nature, of innateness; it is characterized by the active power of divinity, that feeling of absolute presence, of divine presence. It is both mystery and terror. It is the being of nature, living in the present moment, whereas religion, inseparable from society, brings us back to the concept of culture, of what has been acquired, keeping us in the past and projecting us into the future. It is thought of as a human experience, an external construct, it becomes an object of knowledge, part of collective worship, and in the light of historical evolution, it leads to a cosmetic approach to the world (colonialist, transhumanist...), a dispossession of the characteristics of the human being, or even a projection of the human ideal into an imaginary world. 

Spirituality, the preferred domain of the human sciences, also concerns all those who survey the territory of the mind, and is approached with circumspection, with the difficult neutrality that falls to rational, Cartesian minds. In such matters, any system of thought, any attempt at conceptualization is confronted with the irreducible complexity of a protean reality that transcends the field of discourse. 

As for religion, it can be understood as any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often implying a moral code, whereas spirituality - which is not exclusive of religion, since atheistic, secular or pagan spiritualities can be found - focuses on things and the immaterial world, the world of spirits. It implies a quest, a questioning, a path, a reason. That said, this belief system is rarely unanimous, and in the history of mankind has regularly been involved in conflicts whose intensity demonstrates that the sharing of the sacred does not always overlap with the "sharing of the sensible". In regions of the world where various cultural practices come into contact, exchanges and new creations resulting from appropriations and re-appropriations offer a most interesting subject for study, and invite us to rethink the paradigms of syncretism and super-syncretism (Benítez-Rojo, 2010).

Conceptually, these notions - sacred, spiritual, religious - are associated with a diversity of representations which, in the collective imagination, rarely carry the same semantic, semiological or even gnostic weight in literature, science, the arts and cultural practices. Do they refer to the same meanings in terms of the scholarly observer's reception of the cult communities and cultural ethopoeias, of the theocratic ecosystems he is targeting? From a civilizational point of view, what cultural shocks, or relational ecologies, do they provide access to?

The worlds of literary and artistic creation in the South are precisely scriptural, oracular, sonic, hermetic or heterogeneous worlds where language, the Word, resonance, cosmic energy... are created, and where we tend to reconfigure these terminologies. What, then, of literature and the arts? How do novelists, poets and artists reintegrate or reappropriate these lost frequential spaces of the Republic of Human Sciences? Are aesthetic strategies, however minimal, perceptible, conceivable or tangible?

How to contribute

As these lines of inquiry are not intended to be exhaustive, contributors are encouraged to explore other aspects of the issue along the conceptual lines indicated. Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to this theme are strongly encouraged.  Contributions at the intersection of literature, the arts and anthropology (among others) will also be particularly appreciated.  With this in mind, proposals may be drawn from related disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields. To this end, contributors may draw inspiration from the following areas:

  •  literary studies;

  •  visual and performing arts: painting, sculpture, graphic arts, performance art, etc. ;  philosophy, psychology and theology;

  •  human and social sciences: history, sociology, anthropology, ethnology, political science; 

  • the study of life, pharmacopoeia and the resurgence of ancestral practices; 

  • a diversity of related and diasporic fields: cultural studies, migration studies, etc.

Proposals for contributions should include a title and an abstract of no more than 400 words, accompanied by 5 keywords. They should be accompanied by a brief biobibliographical note, not exceeding 150 words.

 Proposals for contributions, in English, French or Spanish, accompanied by a short biobibliographical note, must be sent by October 30, 2023 at the latest. For further information, please send an email to the same address. Please send your abstract (300 words maximum) + 5 keywords to and, together with a brief biobibliographical note specifying your institutional affiliation. Contributions will take the form of a 20minute academic paper followed by a 10-minute discussion. 

Selection process

Until October 30, 2023: submission of abstracts and biobibliographical notes 

November 1 to November 9, 2023: selection of proposals.

November 10, 2023: notification of authors.

December 1, 2023: distribution and publication of the study day program.


Please note that the study day will take place online. Contributions likely to be recorded on video may be uploaded - with the panelists' explicit agreement - to AMC's Canal-U channel. A recording and broadcast authorization will be sent to all contributors whose proposals have been selected. Following the event, they will be invited to submit an article proposal to NaKaN, a Journal of Cultural Studies


NaKaN Learned Society

Organizing committee

  • Dr. Gérald Désert, Université des Antilles

  • Dr. Nathalie Bouchaut-Kancel, Université des Antilles

  • Dr. Frédéric Lefrançois, University of the West Indies

  • Prof. Buata Malela, CUFR de Mayotte

Scientific committee

  • Pr. John Ayotunde Isola Bewaji (University of the West Indies)

  • Dr. Anny-Dominique Curtius (University of Iowa, USA)

  • Dr. D. Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson (Rutgers University, Bowling Green State University)

  • Dr. Max Belaise (University of the West Indies)

  • Pr. Frederick Ochieng'-Odhiambon (University of the West Indies)

  • Prof. Marc Duby (University of South Africa)

  • Dr. Christina Oikonomopoulou (University of Peloponnese, Greece)

  • Dr. Christophe Premat (University of Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Prof. Jean Bessière (University of Paris III Sorbonne, France)

  • Prof. Laurence Rosier (Free University of Brussels, Belgium)

  • Dr. Linda Rasoamanana (University of Mayotte, France)

  • Prof. Madhura Joshi (Toulouse - Jean Jaurès University, France)

  • Dr. Yoporeka Somet (Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Kenya) Dr. Yves Chemla (Université Paris Descartes, France)

Bibliographical references

  • ANZALDUA, G., Light in the Dark/Luz en lo Oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality. Duke University Press, 2015

  • ARISTOTE. Métaphysique, E, 1026020, trad. J. Tricot, Vrin, Paris, 1953

  • BATAILLE, Georges. La part maudite, Minuit, 1985

  • BENITEZ ROJO, Antonio. LA Isla Que Se Repite: El Caribe y Perspectiva Posmoderna. Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2010.

  • BERGSON, Henri. Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion, PUF, Paris, 1995

  • BESNIER, Jean-Michel. Histoire de la Philosophie moderne et contemporaine, Figures et Œuvres, Le Collège de Philosophie, Grasset, 1993

  • BLAY, Michel. Grand dictionnaire de la Philosophie, Larousse, CNRS Éditions, 2012, [2003]

  • CAILLOIS, Roger. L’Homme et le Sacré, Folio-essais, Gallimard, 1983

  • CARRETTE, J. R.  & King, R. Selling spirituality: The silent takeover of religion. Psychology Press, 2015 CHATEAUBRIAND, François-René (de). Génie du Christianisme, Garnier-Flammarion, 1990. 

  • DURAND, Gilbert. Les Structures anthropologiques de l’imaginaire, Armand Colin, 2020 [1969]

  • HEGEL, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Leçons sur la philosophie de la religion, Trd. J. Gibelin, Vrin, Paris, 1975

  • DURKHEIM, Emile. Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, Livre de poche 1912, rééd. CNRS Éditions, 2008

  • ELIADE, Mircea. Le Sacré et le Profane, Folio-essais, Gallimard, 1957

  • ELIADE, Mircea. Le Mythe de l’éternel retour, Folio-essais, Gallimard, 1969

  • ELIADE, Mircea. Aspects du Mythe, Folio-essais, Gallimard, 1963

  • GIRARD, René. La Violence et le Sacré, Hachette, 1994

  • GROSFOGUEL, Ramon. « The structure of knowledge in Westernized universities: Epistemic racism/sexism and the four genocides/epistemicides of the long 16th century ». Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge,11(1), 8, 2013.

  • HUTCHISON, E. D. , « Spirituality, Religion, and Progressive Social Movements: Resources and Motivation for Social Change »,  Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought31(1-2), 105-127, 2012.

  • LAM, Eskil, D. Tonneau-Ryckelynck & D. Dolega-Ritter, Lam : Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre gravé, H.C. Editions, 2016.

  • L’ÉTANG Gerry & J.-Pierre Arsaye, La Peinture en Martinique, Paris, H.C. Éditions, 2007.

  • MARX, Karl. Contribution à la critique de la philosophie du droit de Hegel, Ellipses, Paris, 2000.

  • OCHIENG'-ODHIAMBO, Frederick. African Philosophy: An Introduction, Consolata Institute of Philosophy Press, Nairobi, 1995.

  • OTTO, Rudolph. Le Sacré, Payot, 2001

  • OWEN, S. The appropriation of native American spirituality. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008.

  • SOME, M. P. The healing wisdom of Africa: Finding life purpose through nature, ritual, and community, JP Tarcher, 1999

  • SPINOZA, Baruch. Traité théologico-politique, Garnier-Flammarion, 1965.

  • TOUMSON, Roger (dir.), Anthologie de la peinture en Guadeloupe. Des origines à nos jours, Paris, Hervé Chopin,  2009.

  • YUNG-HING, Renée-Paule (dir.), Art contemporain de la Caraïbe, Mythes, croyances, religions et imaginaire, Editions Hervé Chopin, 2012.

  • WHITEHEAD, Alfred North. Le Concept de Nature, Vrin, 1998 [1920].



Full online event



  • Monday, October 30, 2023