May 18, 2017 @ 12:30-2:30pm, Knox Hall, Room 509

This event will focus on the past decade that has witnessed a remarkable surge of interest among both policy makers and academics on the effects that religion has on international aid and development. Within this broad field ‘religious NGOs’ or ‘Faith-Based Organizations’ (FBOs) have garnered considerable scholarly and professional attention, resulting in a flurry of surveys and mapping exercises, as well as a number of practitioner-oriented handbooks and toolkits aiming at integrating religion into development programming. Beyond these attempts at conceptualizing the field at a macro level, more recently there has also been significant new research examining the work of particular organizations and contexts from ethnographic perspectives. This growing literature provides new tools to better appreciate the ways in which emergent institutional forms advocating diverse social interventions arise out of or in conversation with religious communities and discourses on transcendent values. This, in turn, sheds light on the variety of ways in which FBOs are reshaping the global landscape of non-governmental organizations and their work across diverse societies – thus opening up new conversations on the possibilities and problematics of contemporary engagements of religion in the public sphere in diverse societies across the globe. This presentation features critical reflections on cutting edge work in this direction by a team of researchers examining dynamics of religion and NGOs in Southeast Asia based at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute, and the University of Oxford.

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