2019 CREOR Graduate Symposium "Medicine, Myth, and Magic" (12-14 April 2019, McGill University)

Deadline: 5 January

December 11, 2018

Dates: April 12-14, 2019


Location: McGill University, Montreal, Canada


Submission Deadline: November 30th, 2018


Description of Conference:


The McGill Centre for Research on Religion (CREOR) graduate student annual conference invites graduate students and emerging scholars to participate in a special edition conference rethinking the relationship between medicine and religion. We invite critical reflections on the complexities and diversity that arises at the crossroads of medicine and religion. We know that since Antiquity medical traditions in Greece, Babylon, Egypt, China and India were intrinsically intertwined with its religious practices. The observation and study of anatomical and mental ailments was not necessarily a distinct science, the lines between medicine, religion, and “magic” remained?at times?blurry. Myth and ritual were also used to connect the body to sacred spaces. Early modern, and especially post-Enlightenment, thinking sought to bring a clearer divide between medicine and religion. As science and technology progressed it provided the field of medicine with a diagnostic and prognosis system which was purely “rational” and devoid of spiritual beliefs. But the acceptance of this proposition has not been unanimous. Despite the extraordinary advances of post-Enlightenment medicine, both Western and Eastern, does the quest for scientific knowledge leave any room for religious beliefs, traditions and ethics to influence medical practice?

Some questions the conference wishes to consider are: Do Western, Eastern and Indigenous traditions and religions have something to offer in understanding afflictions of the mind and body? Can religious beliefs and scientific methods used by modern medicine ever be reconciled? How has a given tradition’s view of the relationship between medicine and religion evolved over time? What role and influence have religious views had in the history of medical thought? What are the theological and philosophical aspects of the study of the body? How has the relationship between medicine and religion been portrayed in historical, literary, and philosophical writings?


We invite proposals from all areas of study, including history, philosophy, art history, religious studies, sociology, anthropology, psychology, bioethics, and law. Encouraged topics and themes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • History of medicine and religion
  • Theological and philosophical aspects of the medical sciences
  • Theology and philosophy of medicine
  • Sociology of medical knowledge
  • Anthropology of medicine
  • Medicine and religion in literature 
  • Medicine and "fringe" religious traditions (e.g. Hermetic, heretical, "occult"…)
  • Iconography: Representations of the healer-prophet or healer-saint in art
  • Debates on body and soul informed by medical and theological knowledge
  • Spiritualization of physical illness
  • ndigenous practices and medicine
  • Spiritual and magical healing (e.g. shamanic, taslismanic, etc.)
  • Ethics of healing
  • Religious ethics and medical practices
  • Scriptural Interpretations


This year’s CREOR graduate student conference will be held in collaboration with McGill’s History/Islamic Studies conference “Angelical Conjunctions: Crossroads of Medicine and Religion, 1200-1800” and running concurrently with the 2019 Eastern International Regional Meeting of the American Academy of Religion conference on “Religion, Harm and Healing”.