‘Risk and Rapture: Apocalyptic Imagination in Late Modernity’ University of Chester Sept 2013


Risk and Rapture: Apocalyptic Imagination in Late Modernity
Centre for Faiths and Public Policy, University of Chester
Wednesday 11th September 2013
Keynote Speaker: Professor Scott Lash (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Apocalypse captivates the human imagination. Once synonymous with ‘end of the world’ scenarios and confined largely to the religious, the term is part of vernacular language in the West and is used to describe a myriad of events from the fiscal difficulties of the Eurozone to nuclear war, from environmental disaster to the dangers of digital technology.
The advancement of science and technology has assisted in expediting anxiety with regard to apocalyptic catastrophe because such ‘progress’ has produced unforeseen hazards and risks. Critical theories of risk have been developed that harness and organise responses to scientific developments in an attempt to provide solutions to possible catastrophe. It is suggested that in order to prevent global catastrophe, modern society must be reflexive. Moreover, the advent of such hazards has served as a recruiting sergeant for fundamentalist religious groups who have clear and explicit eschatologies. Rather than viewing possible risks and hazards as by-products of late modernity-‘signs of the times’, they are re-interpreted as ‘signs of the end times’. Consequently, one strand that runs through the above is the political implications of apocalyptic ideology and theories of risk. Whether this is the focus some Christian dispensationalist groups put on the role of the state of Israel in the Middle East, or the so-called catastrophic acceleration of global-warming, decisions based on interpretations of these inevitably have political ramifications.
The purpose of this inter-disciplinary conference is to investigate and evaluate some of the variety of apocalyptic discourse that exists in contemporary popular western culture along with critical theories of risk.

Papers are invited that explore both the secular and religio-political dimensions of apocalyptic language in contemporary society and include, but not restricted to, the following themes:
* Secular interpretations of apocalypse;
* Religio-political apocalyptic discourse;
* Critical theories that seek solutions to contemporary notions of risk;
* Correlations between critical theories of risk and apocalyptic ideology;
* The growth of fundamentalisms as a reaction to risk culture(s).

Proposals for short papers are invited on any aspects or themes related to the above. Papers will be 20 minutes in length with an additional 10 minutes discussion. Applications to submit a paper should include:
* Proposer’s name and affiliation;
* Title of the paper;
* 250-word abstract;
* Details of any audio-visual equipment you will need to deliver your paper.
Short paper proposals should be submitted to Riskraptureconf@chester.ac.uk by no later than 4pm on Friday 6th April 2013. Conference costs: £50 (£25 unwaged and students) inclusive of lunch and refreshments. Conference registration will open in due course.