This plenary examines religion in Europe in the light of diffusion and secularism; advocating the importance of both these concepts for our theoretical understanding.
This panel considers the general problem of the relationship between religion and institutions, diffusionism and secularism in Europe from the anthropological point of view. It is obvious that there are connections between the broad religious cultures in Europe, and that part of this overlap may be traced through common attitudes to gender and creation, yet equally they have been divided and interleaved by political and cultural fissures of various kinds, often very complicated. The central question that faces this plenary is, how we can see this historical complexity in the light of the trans-nationalism and migration which characterises Europe today? Do we now need to re-incoprorate pre-modern characterisations of culture and diffusion in order to understand how these contemporary movements may come about? Do we need perhaps to develop a more self-conscious awareness of the importance of secularism to European culture - secularism perhaps not so much as an analytical tool, but more simply as a crucial cultural characteristic, even if a complex one, of the way that Europe has developed?