Al Farabi Kazakh National University, Faculty of Oriental Studies

On April 15, 2021, an international online conference “Religious Institutions and Practices during the COVID Pandemic: challenges and answers” was held at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The conference was organized within the framework of the project “Religious institutions and practices in the context of digitalization and changes in social space during the COVID pandemic in Kazakhstan” (ГФ МОН РК 2020-2021, ИРН AP08956706, project leader Dr. Laura Yerekesheva, Faculty of Oriental Studies, al-Farabi Kazakh National University).

The purpose of the conference was to examine the impact that the changes in the social environment and forms of social interaction caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic have on religious institutions and practices, both in the world and in Kazakhstan.

Conference format: During the conference, three sessions were held which discussed issues related to religious education and the practice of religious rituals during the pandemic.

There was chosen the following format at the conference – three speakers for each session from among those who in one way or another contributed to the project as a participant in a group interview, in-depth interview, expert survey. They were followed by the commentaries representing the so-called “external” view, expressed by representatives of the religious, expert communities, UNESCO Chairs.

The conference was attended by Kazakhstani and foreign researchers, experts, teachers at religious and secular educational institutions, religious practitioners/believers, government officials, representatives of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty and UNESCO Chairs from the UNITWIN / UNESCO Chairs network on intercultural and interreligious dialogue. In terms of country distributions, the participants represented Egypt, India, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey.