Call for Participation [closed]

Feminism and Hospitality: 

Religious and Critical Perspectives in dialogue with a Secular Age

Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland.

5-8 March 2020.

Scholars, students, artists and activists are invited to participate in the first conference of the Nordic Summer University study circle Hospitality and Solidarity: Feminist Philosophy in Thought, History and Action (2020-2022) on the themes of Hospitality and Solidarity.

For our first winter symposium we want to engage in a discussion on Hospitality. Many religions and philosophical worldviews seem to uphold the concept of hospitality as a core value. We want to ask, are there differences in what is meant with hospitality in different traditions and how does solidarity with the ‘other’ take concrete form? Historically, hospitality has often been associated with the practices of family life where women are expected to serve and be at the “giving” end of care and comfort. What kind of demands does hospitality place on people as an emotional labour? What happens to the practices of hospitality when society becomes secularised? Recent studies (e.g. Scott 2017) show that there is a much closer relationship between increased gender inequality and the rise of secularism, than earlier presumed. Especially religious women have fallen under the double burden of being seen as a-rational due to both their gender and their religious views. However, one may also ask: does a religious worldview have a unique contribution to offer in an increasingly secular society where the values of market economy and new public management are spreading across institutions and political structures? Are there forms of resistance to be found in the values of religions and faiths, which can offer tools to combat the increased marginalisation of people in our secular society? Recent studies in Finland, where churches offer refuge for immigrants seems to point in this direction (Ahonen 2019) Hence, the symposium strives to explore what can be discovered at the intersection of:

  • feminist thinking,
  • hospitality,
  • solidarity with the other,
  • religious and philosophical worldviews,
  • practices in a secular age.

We invite papers that approach any combination of these themes from different theoretical and methodological perspectives and in relation to various religious and philosophical traditions.

The conference is organised by the network Hospitality and Solidarity: Feminist Philosophy in Thought, History and Action of the Nordic Summer University in collaboration with Åbo Akademi, Polin Institute and the Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture.

Confirmed keynotes

Terhi Utriainen – Professor of Study of Religion at the University of Turku. She is a scholar and ethnographer of the dynamics of present-day vernacular religion, spirituality and secular culture. She specialises also in the study of gender, embodiment and ritual theory. Her recent works include for example the co-edited books "Finnish Women Making Religion: Between Ancestors and Angels" (2014)  and "The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization: Changing the Terms of the Religion Versus Secularity Debate" (2016). She is heading the new project “Learning from New Religion and Spirituality” funded by the Academy of Finland. She is also series editor of the Brill Handbook of Contemporary Religion. Her talk will be about “What can the notion of ‘spirituality’ do to the categories of ‘religion’ and ‘secularity’?

DSocSci Talvikki Ahonen is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland’s School of Theology. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the Finnish church asylum movement, and her current research interests lie or: deals with the intersections of religion and politics. In particular she has focused on religious conversion and its impact on asylum procedures. Her talk will be built on the following topic: “Encountering and recognizing the other within the Finnish church asylum movement”.

Dr. Kaia S. Rønsdal is currently a post-doctoral fellow at The Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, and member of the research group NORDHOST: Nordic Hospitalities in a Context of Migration and Refugee Crisis. Her discipline is professional ethics and Christian social practice, and her main research interests on marginality, borders, and peripheries include spatial theory, urbanity, phenomenology and theological ethics. Her doctoral thesis Calling Bodies in Lived Spaces: Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space (published with the same title at Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018), is based on fieldwork from specific areas of central Oslo and the high density of substance abusers in these areas. Her current project and also the theme she will be speaking about in Åbo is, Magnificent Encounters in Borderland, relates to explorations of the concept of hospitality, starting in Nordic borderlands. The lived practices in civil society is her primary interest.

Dr. Angy Cohen was born and raised in Madrid, Spain and moved to Israel in 2014. She has a BA in Psychology and a MA in Philosophy. She received her PhD in 2017 by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid in a Joint PhD program. Her doctoral dissertation was a comparative ethnographic study of the relation between memory and identity among Spanish-Moroccan Jews that emigrated to Israel and Argentina. She studied the impact the experience of immigration had on the memories the interviewees evoked in the interviews. Angy Cohen has received different fellowships and awards, including the Gaon Prize for research projects about Judeo-Spanish culture and the Rothschild (Hanadiv) doctoral fellowship. Topic of her Keynote is: The reception of the other. Thoughts on hospitality, individualism and feminism through a Jewish lens.

Information for participants & Preliminary Program

Please follow this link to read the preliminary program.

Names of confirmed participants will be updated here on rolling basis.

Please confirm your participation by paying the registration fee:


A special issue of the journal Approaching Religion will be published based on the symposium. AR is open access and has a wide readership among academia. It is indexed in some of the largest scientific databases in the world (DOAJ, EBSCO, ATLA, ERIH Plus, Web of Science), as well as Google Scholar. Thus, the journal articles are searchable at more than 90 % of the world’s universities. AR is primarily a channel for publishing presentations given at conferences that DI has been involved in, and scholars from a wide range of fields have published with us – not just scholars of religion as the title might suggest.

After the workshop, we cordially invite you to submit manuscripts for this special issue (Vol. 10/2), to be published in the autumn issue of 2020. The submissions will undergo peer review. You find editorial policies, guidelines for authors as well as information on the review and publication processes at the journal website. If you do not wish to submit a full-length research article, we also welcome shorter reflections from the workshops during the conference, review articles and book reviews.

Submission of articles for peer-review: 10.4 2020
Response from reviewers: 10.6 2020
Final submission: 10.8 2020
Publication: 10.10 2020

Format of the presentation

We strongly encourage you to craft a format that suits your presentation, such as a workshop, experiment, exercise, or interactive dialogue. Include at least 10 minutes for discussion, out of the 40 minutes allotted to each presentation. It will also be possible to have a few participants attend the sessions through an internet connection – particularly if you are wishing to save time and the environment by lessening travelling costs. If this is of interest, tell us which times and dates work for you and we will do our best to accommodate the program for this.

If you wish to contribute to the journal with an article and want to have it read by peers for comments during the week, please indicate this and we will arrange a workshop slot in the program for such peer support.

Practical information

Registration fee: 80 Euros (participants with institutional support), 60 Euros (discounted for participants without institutional support)
NSU membership fee: 25 Euros (10 Euros discounted rate)
The registration fee includes accommodation in shared rooms, lunch meals (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), dinners and a reception (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), as well as coffee breaks. Further information concerning all practical matters and a preliminary schedule will be posted on this website (

The annual membership fee payed to the Nordic Summer University (NSU) facilitates the existence of NSU, which is a volunteer-based organisation. As a member you can sign up for all events organised by NSU, take part in the democratic decision-making process on which NSU is based, and become part of the extensive network of NSU. There are two rates: a standard fee of 25 Euros and a discounted membership fee of 10 Euros for self-financed/freelance/independent students, scholars and artists.
Please pay the registration fee when you have been accepted to attend the conference by following this link:

NSU will also be able to fund the travel expenses for a number of Nordic and Baltic participants. Please indicate whether you are interested in receiving travel support.

About the network

Hospitality and Solidarity: Feminist Philosophy in Thought, History and Action is a three-year study circle for critical interdisciplinary inquiries based in the Nordic and Baltic countries. The symposium at Åbo Akademi Univeristy is the first of a total of six conferences from 2020 to 2022. The network builds on the project Feminist philosophy: Time, history and the transformation of thought (2017-2019), which attracted more than 200 participants from five continents. The network aims to transcend the hierarchies of academia and the limits of thought. For more information about the network, visit our website:
feminist-philosophy-thought-history-action/ and FB-group Feminist Philosophy (NSU).

Additional: Reading group

In preparation for the conference we will read the following book together: Etty Hillesum (1996) An interrupted life: the diaries, 1941–1943; and, Letters from Westerbork. Starting on Wednesday 30th of October all whom wish to join are welcome to participate in a discussion around what we have read. Participation can take place through a joint call or be in person. The time slot will be 16:00 Finnish time and the physical place of meeting in Åbo. Please email laura.hellsten [at] for more information.