Australian Spirit: Power, Wellbeing and Risks

The turn of the twenty-first century was characterised by “Spiritual Revolution”, with claims that interest in New Age spirituality was eclipsing religion and would continue to do so in the future. Since then, scholars of religion have been more focused on religious diversity, and the rise of the non-religious. While interest in spirituality, uptake of spiritual practices, and identification as ‘spiritual but not religious’ and ‘spiritual and religious’ has continued to grow, spirituality is typically not taken as seriously as religion, at least in political spheres or by academia.

This Lecture examines the history and contemporary dynamics of spirituality in Australia, with a post-colonial emphasis on the triangulated relations between First Nations, Asian, and European communities. It also draws on the findings of two Australian Research Council funded studies, on the ‘Worldviews of Gen Z Australians’ and ‘Religious Diversity in Australia’, and on a recent project on ‘(Con)spirituality, Science and COVID-19 in Australia’.

It argues that it is certainly time for spirituality to be taken more seriously in this country and globally, given spirituality’s concern with personal and planetary wellbeing, but also the potential risks spirituality can pose due to its association with neoliberalism, d/misinformation, nationalism, and power-based abuses. 

Speaker: Dr. Anna Halafoff is Associate Professor in Sociology of Religion in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University, Australia. She is also a member of the Alfred Deakin Institute’s Science and Society Network, Centre for Resilient and Inclusive Societies (CRIS) Consortium, and AVERT (Addressing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation to Terrorism) Research Network. Anna is a Chief Investigator on two Australian Research Council Discovery Projects on the Worldviews of Generation Z Australians and on Religious Diversity in Australia. Her other research interests include interreligious relations, religion and education, preventing violent extremism, contemporary spirituality, and Buddhism in Australia. She is the author of The Multifaith Movement: Global Risks and Cosmopolitan Solutions, co-editor (with Marian DeSouza) of Re-Enchanting Education and Spiritual Wellbeing: Fostering Belonging and Meaning-making for Global Citizens and co-author (with Andrew Singleton, Mary Lou Rasmussen, and Gary Bouma) of Freedoms, Faiths and Futures: Teenage Australians on Religion, Sexuality and Diversity.

Date: Wednesday 1st of June
Time: 5.30pm for 5.45–6.45pm. The lecture will be followed by a post event reception with refreshments from 6.45–7.45pm. 
Venue: Room 03-206 Steele Building  View map and parking information


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