Lecture: Milan Vukomanović on the Role of Religion and its Influence in Contemporary Society

The Role of Religion and its Influence in Contemporary Society (Milan Vukomanović)//Cultural Center Belgrade//5th August, 19h

 In this lecture, Vukomanović assesses the thesis about the revitalization of religion in contemporary society from two different, but complementary, theoretical aspects. On the one hand, the notion of religion has been reconsidered in the light of the changes that took place in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Religious aspects of globalization are also part of this process. Instead of asking what religion is, or what it does, Vukomanović tackles, in more detail, the following question: what does religion entail – having in mind, in the first place, the different aspects or constitutive elements of religion (i.e. discourse, practice, community and institution). In other words, what aspects of religion experience revitalization, if revitalization of religion and not just religiosity is at issue? On the other hand, he examines the very concept of modernity in the contemporary society, by taking into account the multiplicity of the modern cultural programs, as well as their constant dynamics. During the last several decades of the 20th century up to date, non-Western societies have experienced a significant re-interpretation, selection and re-formulation of the institutional models and political and social topics related to the modern Western civilization. This, of course, has implications for religious life in those societies.

Religion, today, enters very complex interactions with the ideological, political, cultural and economic systems. It is part of the globalization processes. However, through its institutions and their interpretative strategies, it still provides safe haven for the „protection of culture“. Religions protect their own interpretative traditions that affirm, primarily, religious institutions. In the world characterized by major dislocations of the ethnic, religious, and cultural minorities, religious institutions are potent bearers of the collective and group identities. This applies to the societies undergoing transformation, such as the Balkan societies. Religious and church institutions often respond to the challenges of modernization and secularization by a unique religization of modernity. In turn, any ethnification or religization of politics is a challenge to individual human rights.