Religious beliefs, rituals and sacred books have historically travelled with people, following trade routes and communication links across the world. But how do a new set of beliefs or a ‘religion’ make sense to a people who may have very different sets of beliefs and practices? That is, how do religions travel or ‘translate’ themselves across cultures and languages? In reverse, are religions transformed by these processes of translation? And, in what ways do individuals respond to the introduction of new ideas of the sacred? These are some key questions at the heart of this project that link ideas of religious change and speaking about a changing self with concepts of translation.

Investigating how acts of translation serve to transmit and circulate ideas and forms of knowledge about a set of religious beliefs can seem rather broad and abstract. To engage most fruitfully with religious transition, this project focuses attention on one of the signals of change available for study: autobiographical narratives representing “religious conversion”. These offer us opportunities to examine processes of religious change from different angles. Here, we use ‘religious change’ in a broad sense to include how translation acts influence individual ‘conversion’ as well as institutions and systems of religious beliefs.

Read more about the project scope