Global Reformations 2017


This 3-day international conference at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (Victoria College, University of Toronto) will be the core activity within a sustained, comparative, and interdisciplinary exploration of religious transformations across the early modern world.

It will be the largest in Canada of an international series of conferences marking the 500th anniversary of the event that triggered the period known as “The Reformation.” It differs from these others in that it interrogates received interpretations of the Reformation movement as solely a European Christian phenomenon, and explores it instead through cross-cultural and interfaith dynamics. In a year when many narrow Eurocentric paradigms of the Reformation are being spread in popular media, we are also aiming to stimulate a broader public questioning of the received interpretation of the Reformation and of the historical forms of cross-cultural and interfaith dynamics.

The early modern world saw a great increase in contacts between religious traditions and their believers, and many of these early encounters continue to shape modern interfaith relations. We are gathering senior and younger scholars who will be exploring global developments and tracking the many ways in which Reformation movements broadly defined shaped relations of Christians with other Christians, and also with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, aboriginal groups, and animistic religions.

Many early modern encounters were fraught with the tensions of alterity, and all generated new forms of accommodation, exclusion, communication, exchange, and transformation. Our multi-faceted project will explore the resulting cultural, historical, art historical, literary, and intellectual disruptions and convergences. We will also be exploring how various religious traditions, particularly Islam and Judaism, were shaped both by inner dynamics and cross-cultural tensions, and how these in turn influenced developments in European Christian communities.

Our conference, working groups, pedagogical activities, public cultural events, and publications will explore and demonstrate how interfaith and cross-confessional encounters shifted under the impact of the religio-political changes that swept rapidly across the globe from the fifteenth into the eighteenth centuries.

We will probe the inter-actions that developed across confessional lines, and the unanticipated consequences that worked back and forth across the globe in from the religious schisms in Europe. These activities will therefore sustain research collaboration and a series of platforms by which resources can be made available to scholars and a broader public.