The Challenges for Emerging Forces in the Globalised World


International and Multidisciplinary Conference in the framework of a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference

Indonesia, October 26-31, 2015



Terms of Reference





A Science of Religion, based on an impartial and truly scientific comparison of all, or at all events, of the most important […] religions of mankind, is now only a question of time. It is demanded by those whose voice cannot be disregarded. (E. J. Sharpe, 1975)


Modern Times have reinforced several levels of tangible demarcations between Spirituality and Religion. Scholars and the larger public may weigh the relative validity of our introductory assertions: religion zeros on ontological fears, sin, and transgression whereas spirituality rejects guilt and transcends turpitude through the domestication of present circumstances. Religion obsesses with boxing up human thought in rigid parameters while spirituality sprouts in the matrix of unfettered individual consciousness. Religion demands performance but spirituality is the art of being, is it not? Moreover, when we think of it, religion feeds on angst where spirituality walks in confidence. In essence, religion hijacks the mind of the fearful and the asleep whereas spiritualty concerns itself with The Awaken Self.

        In light of the dense evolution of ancestral spiritual traditions, particularly as they have been engaging with the political process in the nations of the Global South for the past six decades or so, our framework defines religion broadly enough to engulf all forms of individual/communal interactions with supernatural beings and entities. Therefore, we welcome in our works the ideas elevating humanistic religions, Religion without God/s, as they are namely manifested in ancient Asian spiritual traditions.

What is religion? What roles does it play in the affairs of mankind? The term itself stems from Latin, religio, which means different things to different people. Certain scholars see its etymology in notions like relegere (to re-read, to reconsider, study again) or relinquere (to forfeit, to abandon, to relinquish) or yet more commonly, religare in a more functional sense so to speak of “to link” (connect, bind, unite, re-unite). The latter level of significance has therefore come to impose itself as a somewhat consensual basic understanding of what religion is: Humans, creatures, discerning themselves as intricately linked to their Creator, God, Gods, Superior/Supernatural Beings. Fundamentally too, we must insist, spirituality and religion link us; you; me; to one another. One is entitled to ask if these rather cerebral considerations are not cozy, useless academic discussions in relation to our present concerns.

In the interest of time, suffice it to say that the Bandung Era, 1955 – 1980, consecrated the exalted triumph of far-Leftist nationalism against hegemonic Western Imperialism in the twentieth century although it went much further in attempting the reinvent The Future. Ancestral spiritual traditions and other so-called revealed religions that have so voraciously taken hold of Global Southern national communities, often mixed with systems of allegiance rooted in ethnicity, have become to us with increasing clarity since Samuel P. Huntington published The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order in 1995, the archenemies of ultraliberal ideologies. The resulting clashes are manifested in all these wars; forty-two major conflicts upsetting the world at the beginning of 2015 some people said. To state the obvious, we are all stakeholders, willy-nilly, in these fights and desolations for the “control of mentalities.” Where else would one search for meaning, for instance, when it comes to the Global War on Terrorism unleashed by the Bush Administration on the “Axis of Evil” (Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and others…) and its implications for peace and security on the planet at the start of the third millennium?

The focal question we are bringing to the Sixtieth Anniversary of the 1955 Afro-Asian Bandung Conference unrolls as such: can the nations of the Global South mobilize the appropriate resources, in the same fashion as the “open society” of secular Capitalism, to survive, grow, and prosper in the twenty-first century in the absence of modern institutionalized values to carry them through; and in the absence of qualified State structures to deliver-on-short-notice the existential paradise Humanity has been yearning for across time?

We do acknowledge these day that the pulse of the world is hung up to the schizophrenic power modern sovereign China is projecting on the world stage, don’t we? We’re talking about the very China fashioned by the insights of the Marxist-leaning convictions of Mao Zedong and his mentors and restive companions in the stormy last two thirds of the twentieth century. Venerated by millions of intellectuals and statesmen as a superior politician, the First Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party is perceived in 1949 as a liberator, victor of the corrupt, repressive, and dysfunctional régime of the Kuo-Min-Tang. Mao embodied the promises of an alternative destiny, in the religious senses of the word, (chance, future, opportunity, imminence) for the whole Chinese peasantry; before ironically or not, morphing into a blood-splashed dictator, architect of very demanding reforms that unfurled the fires and hunger and death on China in the 1950s and on. Founding-Father of the People’s Republic of China, visionary poet, revolutionary orator satisfied with austerity in his personal life, icon of the Third World Project, Mao Zedong labored as others did in their own lands, in order to try and address the conundrums of statesmanship in the midst of the Cold War, inspired as he was by an approach of the Dialectics of Materialism mixed with utopian, pseudo-cosmic visions of economic and cultural headway for the majority (e. g.: “The Great Leap Forward”, “The Cultural Revolution”). In the process, he claimed the right of life and death on millions.

The Great Helmsman was born in 1893 into a well-to-do rural family of practicing Buddhists in the Hunan province. Mao’s father is stern and violent when it comes to the business of childrearing. Mao’s mother is fervent in the adoration of The Buddha. Therefore, the young man grows up believing in Buddhist dogmas and attendant to required ceremonies until his adolescence. At that stage, he emancipates himself from religious observance apparently in response to his heightened intellectual, moral, and phenomenological encounter with Marxism whose leading godfathers and shakers and movers are individuals such as Li Dazhao (1888 – 1927) and Chen Duxiu (1879 – 1942).

During his college years, Mao Zedong is trained in the arts of Education and works as a librarian. He enjoys the privileges of excellent-quality schooling in Classical Confucianism along with a solid dose of Western principles of social science. The dynamic exposure to Marxism seems to have prompted in the man a total rejection of bourgeois ideologies, feudalism, Imperialism, and cultural elitism.

We will also show in our deliberations that the towering personality of Soekarno of Indonesia, central host of the 1955 Bandung Conference, supersedes that of Mao when it comes to explorations of constructive new paths of syncretic spiritualities to uplift the citizens of the Third World. Soekarno’s praxis struggled passionately to reconcile Islam and Socialo-Communism.

Let us be perfectly clear: to us, spirituality and religion, in the geographical spheres of the Former Third World, are aptly perceived as the very last “respectable” bastions of resistance to the hegemony of Liberalism, the aggressive traditions of secularism namely those coming out of Hollywood and the European Union, and the devastations of what Ex-Pope Benedict XVI-Joseph Ratzinger used to call the “dictatorship of [cultural] relativism.” Such considerations may well help us better understand why The Lord’s Resistance Army of Northern Uganda is called what’s it’s called and why Boko Haram is precisely named Boko Haram and why the “Islamic State in the Levant/Syria” is specifically named ISIS/ISIL.

The generic theme of our conference, “BUILDING SOVEREIGNTY, PREVENTING HEGEMONY: The Challenges for Emerging Forces in the Globalised World” is providing us with a much dynamic podium to investigate --next to and in consultation with our colleagues in the HISTORY, CULTURE, ECOLOGY, ECONOMY, & POLITICS 5 other Working Groups of BANDUNG 60 -- various facets of the lines of friction between the aspirations of religion-based political movements and the policies of cultural and economic liberalization prevailing in the darker nations since the end of the Cold War.

Our ambition is to incite from all continents the production of hypotheses by activists and scholars who would promptly conduct research pertinent to the clashing lines of engagement between Free Market and “modernization” policies often controlled by the West on the one hand; and the push-back they face from religion-based movements’ agency on the other, in the Global South for the past sixty years.

- What are the dominant spirituality/religion-based (political) movements in the Global South today and what are their platforms?

- What are the patterns through which these institutions cooperate, compete or fight among themselves and/or against secular régimes in their respective States and lands?

- What are the ultimate motives pushing these movements to sometimes resort to violence and terrorism in order to try and achieve their goals?

- Who is behind the international networks that are advocating for and bankrolling the “Revenge of God”?

- What have been the personal (spiritual) trajectories of the leaders of the South on the global arena since the beginning of the Bandung Era; and where are the nemeses of their visions, such for instance in the case of The Great Helmsman Mao Zedong, or, better yet, Soekarno of Indonesia?

- What roles did the representatives of explicitly religious organizations at the April 1955 Afro-Asian Conference of Bandung play to influence the agenda of the Third World Project and what are the legacies of their ideas within the ecosystem of the “developing world”?

- Is institutionalized religion still necessary to the advancement of the Sustainable Greater Good upon all The Earth? (Behold, we cannot put it together, for indeed, it is together…)

- Can the international Community stimulate in very practical ways the peaceful emergence of hegemonic brands of pluralistic, progressive spiritualities?

- Et cætera, et cætera.


Seminar Coordinator

Mr. Jean-Jacques Ngor Sène, Senegal/USA (Assoc. Professor. Dr., History, Chatham University).


Working Group Members

Mr. Dani, Indonesia

Mr. Fortune Afatakpa, Nigeria

Mr. Hamah Sagrim, Indonesia

Mr. Julius Gathogo, Kenya

Mr. Najib Azca, Indonesia

Mr. Somboon Chungprampree (Moo), Thailand

Mr. Thomas Joseph, Tanzania

Mr. Zaenal Abidin Eko Putro, Indonesia