Conference: Fundamentalism and the Future

Fundamentalism and the Future

Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12, 2009

California Institute of Integral Studies

1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA


Map and directions


The conference is hosted by the Department of Asian and Comparative Religions (CIIS) of the California Institute of Integral Studies. Organizers are Debashish Banerji, Rich Carlson, and David Hutchinson.



The conference is free. However, we ask you to register here so that we can plan appropriately, and keep you informed of updates and materials.



The conference has been organized by Debashish Banerji, Rich Carlson, and David Hutchinson. See the Presenters page for more information.



The organizers of Fundamentalism and the Future wish to acknowledge an era of global terror inaugurated by 9/11 in relation to the forces shaping our present world. In a period marked by hegemonic globalization and increasing sectarian hostility, the “future” has become a contested category in which a number of cultural histories and social psychologies have been forced into difficult contact.

Willingly or unwillingly, we find ourselves participants of a global jihad vs. McWorld scenario in which the persistence of medieval forms of religious fundamentalism clash with the forces of neo-liberal globalization. Is responsibility for the conflict to be leveled at the history of modernity itself — the Enlightenment, colonialism, Orientalism, nationalism, multiculturalism, cultural relativism and globalism? Are we moving inexorably towards a future determined by the politics of the world market? Or a future of brutal cult-wars in the name of truth, waged by the dispossessed “others” of capitalism, who are intimately entwined and yet beyond the boundary-politics of nation-states?

Does Sri Aurobindo have anything to teach us to help navigate this emerging future? Can his teachings provide useful insights into understanding the nature of the contemporary world problematic and suggest ways to reconcile its antagonisms? If as he asserts all problems are problems of harmony are there societal lessons that can be drawn from the community he founded?

The publication of a recent biography on Sri Aurobindo by a member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the violent condemnation of it by a few because it deviates from orthodox ideology suggests the need for intense reflection on the wider contexts that have made such a reaction possible.

The conference will consider these questions, the zeitgeist of our times, and the future. We will examine and consider a possible future of cosmopolitan exploration and emergence using the conference as an occasion for transforming current conflicts into teachable moments.



For more information on the conference, please contact:

David Hutchinson


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Debashish Banerji


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Rich Carlson


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