Spring 2010 Conference

New Technologies and Interdisciplinary Research on Religion
March 12-13, 2010

Registration: http://gis.harvard.edu

Tsai Auditorium, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
Harvard University

Conference Program with Schedule of Speakers and Abstracts (Click here)

Conference Flyer (Click here)

Call For Posters (Click here)

Co-sponsored by the Political Economy of Religion Project, Taubman Center, Harvard Kennedy School and
the Center for Geographic Analysis, Institute for Quantitative Social Science

New technologies are permitting researchers from various disciplines to work together to access in various operational formats large quantities of data. For example, technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software are innovative ways of collecting and merging together large amounts of data. Google Map and Google Earth are popular tools for spatial visualization that can interface with GIS. Text-mining, a technological tool relevant to the study of religion, draws on information retrieval and data mining creating patterns from large quantities of texts and making them available for scholarly analysis.

The purpose of the two-day conference is to bring together scholars from a wide range of disciplines who are interested in applying these and other new technologies to their research on religion.  Conference discussion will focus on the advantages and challenges of applying new technologies to research on religion. Religion and theology scholars are beginning to understand the need for improved methods of data collection, more rigorous methodology, and innovative uses of technology. Harvard experts as well as scholars from other institutions will show-case their current work in various disciplines using new technologies and forms of analysis. Presentations will focus on combining the content of research on religion with database design, geo-referencing, social network analysis, text-mining, remote-sensing, and spatial-temporal analysis. Spatial-temporal analysis, text-mining, and social network analysis will be discussed as a means of extending and deepening research on religion. A poster session will display a collection of relevant research activities related to the study of religion.

The interdisciplinary nature of the conference presentations and discussion is critical to exploring promising new research pathways.  Scholars working in different fields tend to be isolated from scholars working in other areas.  This conference seeks to create a network of scholars working in different disciplines such as sociology, economics, history, political science, and regional studies to become aware of research already being done and define horizons for future research. What is unique about the new technologies is that they permit cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration. A main function of the conference will be to foster dialogue among scholars from various disciplines who work on religion and to initiate network-building and collaboration among scholars.

The conference will be open to anyone who wishes to attend. 

Previous Seminars: Spring 2009

February 19: "The Economic Effects of Christian Moralities," Benito Arruñada (Pompei Fabra University).

February 26: "Wars, Revolutions and Oil: The Determinants of the Islamic Revival 1955- 2000," Eric Chaney (Harvard University).

March 13: "Lessons from the Ottoman Harem: On Ethnicity, Religion, and War," Murat Iyigun (University of Colorado). Joint with the Economic History Workshop.

April 2: "Christianity in Colonial Africa," Nathan Nunn (Harvard University).

April 16: "Entrepreneurship, Networking and the Success of Early Christianity: An Economic Analysis," Robert Tollison (Clemson University), Robert Ekelund (Auburn University), Octavian Vasilescu (Clemson University).

April 30: "Religious Conversion in 40 Countries," Robert Barro (Harvard University) and Jason Hwang (Cornerstone Research).


Previous Seminars: Fall 2008

September 25: "The Price of Love: Marriage Markets and Intergenerational Transfers in Comparative Perspective, " Maristella Botticini (Boston University).

October 9: "The Formation of the Tibetan State Religion: The Geluk School 1419-1642, " Rachel McCleary (Harvard University) and Leonard van der Kuijp (Harvard University).

October 23; "Muslim Family Law, Prenuptial Agreements and the Emergency of Dowry in Bangladesh," Attila Ambrus (Harvard University) and Erica Field (Harvard University).

November 6: "Was Max Weber Right After All? Economic Effects of the Protestant Reformation in the German Lands," Davide Cantoni (Harvard University).

November 20: "A Theory of Religious Organizations," Gilat Levy (London School of Economics ) and Ronny Razin (London School of Economics).

December 4: "Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering," David Clingingsmith (Case Western Reserve), Asim Khwaja (Harvard University), and Michael Kremer (Harvard University).