I’m helping to organize this conference. Nature, Hollywood, eco-apocalypse, and the Malibu coast (the one that Mike Davis says we should let burn)… Can you resist?


The Fifth International Conference of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture

8-11 August 2010, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California (USA)


The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC) is pleased to announce its next conference in Malibu, California at Pepperdine University in August 2012. The conference theme will be “Nature and the Popular Imagination.”

Malibu is located on the Pacific Ocean, just minutes from Hollywood, that archetypal place of imagination and dreams, the backyard and playground for practitioners of the cinematic arts. For generations, the interconnections between religion and nature have been expressed, promoted, and contested through the incubator of popular culture, and sometimes even in films produced in Malibu itself or the Santa Monica Mountains above it. As a global, symbolic center, both reflecting and inventing nature/religion representations, Malibu and its environs provide an ideal venue for critical reflection on the religion/nature nexus in the popular imagination.

The ISSRNC cordially invites creative proposals including but not limited to papers, panels, film screenings, and forums with “cultural creatives” from this region and beyond, to illuminate the conference theme.

Specific proposals, for example, might explore:

• Apocalypticism (Abrahamic, Mayan, Scientific, etc.).

• Documentary film: nature faking and realism

• Theatrical film and nature spiritualities

• Nature in cartoons and animated films

• Malibu (and/or California) as sacred, imperiled, and desecrated places.

• The spiritualities of celebrities, including as animal and/or environmental activists

As always, while we encourage proposals focused on the conference’s theme, we welcome proposals from all areas (regional and historical) and from all disciplinary perspectives that explore the complex relationships between religious beliefs and practices (however defined and understood), cultural traditions and productions, and the earth’s diverse ecological systems. We encourage proposals that emphasize dialogue and discussion, promote collaborative research, and are unusual in terms of format and structure. Individual paper and session proposals, as are typical with most scholarly associations, are also welcome.

Presenters will be encouraged to submit their work for possible publication in the peer reviewed Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, which is the official journal of the ISSRNC, and has been published quarterly since 2007.

Given the ISSRNC’s commitment to internationality financial assistance will be available for a number of scholars from outside of North America. Details on applying for such assistance will be made available to scholars whose proposals are accepted. Decisions on funding will be made by the ISSRNC Board of Directors based on recommendations from the conference directors and scientific committee.


The deadline for proposals is 1 April 2012. Requests for assistance with invitations to assist with visa processes, financial aid from scholars outside of North America, including a clear statement as to whether such aid is essential for attendance, must be received at the same time. We anticipate being able to provide travel grants to at least ten international scholars. Guidelines for submitting proposals will soon be available right here, at the Conference Website.


Inexpensive lodging will be available in the dorms at Pepperdine University. While additional lodging will be available at nearby hotels it will be comparatively expensive due to the summer tourist season, so we encourage all who can to stay on campus. Details about lodging will be forthcoming here at the Conference Website and will be sent by email to ISSRNC members and any others who directly express interest in the conference to its directors.

Conference Directors

The Conference Directors are Chris Doran (cdoran@pepperdine.edu), from Pepperdine University, and ISSRNC board member Sarah Pike (SPike@csuchico.edu), from California State University, Chico. Professor Doran will head up the local organizing committee and Professor Pike the Program Committee, including the Scientific Committee, which will evaluate proposals. Please direct inquiries to the appropriate conference director.

Special Events

A number of special events and excursions are in the works, including a scholar-led tour of The Getty Villa in Malibu, discussions with prominent filmmakers and actors, hiking trips in the Santa Monica Mountains, and opportunities to enjoy the beautiful and famous Malibu coast. Some of these may be offered before or after the official conference period. Information about these events will be provided here as it becomes available.

Conference Sponsors

The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture is a scholarly organization, established in 2006, that is devoted to understanding the complex relationships. It has hosted conferences previous in Florida (USA), Mexico, The Netherlands, Australia, and Italy. The August 2012 will be the first conference in six years in the United States.

The ISSRNC is especially grateful to Rick Marrs, the Dean of Seaver College at Pepperdine University, whose visionary leadership and generosity has made it possible to hold the ISSRNC’s 2012 International Conference in the iconic and beautiful seaside space known worldwide as Malibu.

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