In collaboration between the Department of Sociology of the University of Zadar, the Croatian Sociological Association and the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb the 12th ISORECEA conference (The International Study of Religion in Eastern and Central Europe Association) entitled “Religion and Non-Religion in Contemporary Societies: Theoretical, Empirical and Methodological Challenges for Research in Central and Eastern Europe and Beyond” was held in Zadar from 21st till 24th April, 2016. The conference was co-organized by the European Sociological Association as the mid-term conference of their Research Network 34 (Sociology of Religion).

The conference was focused on the topic of religion and non-religion in contemporary societies. The topics of non-religion are becoming more and more significant within the scope of social sciences, since the dynamics between religion and non-religion is crucial for understanding the role of religion in contemporary societies and the different views on the role of religion, as well as the various models of the religion-state relations. The Central and the Eastern Europe are especially important places for examining this relation due to the position of atheism during the period of socialism, but also because of the fact that within these societies the image of religion varies greatly, from the countries very highly religious to the highly non-religious countries. What is the impact of these facts on the role of religion in public life, on the definition of the rights of the minority communities, on the social status of certain social groups regarding their non-religion, to what extent and in which aspects is religion present in the everyday lives of the citizens, etc.? All of these were the topics discussed at this conference, and the interest in it is confirmed by the 102 participants from 25 countries from Europe, North America, South Korea, India and Pakistan.

Besides the above mentioned, the fact that the conference was held for the second time in Croatia (it was previously held in Zagreb in 2001) indicates the trust in the Croatian scientists that have been very active in the Association for years, and it was the occasion for the further promotion of the Croatian science and research from different disciplinary scopes. The ISORECEA especially fosters interdisciplinarity and thus the conference gathered not only sociologists, but also psychologists, ethnologists, cultural anthropologists and geographers.

The conference was held as a part of the 40th anniversary of teaching sociology at the University of Zadar. In addition, during the 1970s for the first time at any Croatian university the same Department started teaching Sociology of Religion as a separate course, which was an additional reason for choosing the University of Zadar as the place for organizing the conference.