Call for Submissions

Securitizing the Sacred: Pilgrims’ Trails across Digital Landscapes
University of Toronto
August 22-24, 2024

We invite abstracts for a three-day International Symposium on the state of pilgrimage (incorporating religious tourism) in the context of global security. The event will bring together specialists in different areas of pilgrimage, including academics, tourism providers and operators, local authorities and infrastructure administrators, religious communities, civil liberties organizations, art specialists and artists, and social media influencers. Our aim is to enable different stakeholders to collaborate in considering issues of digitality, security, datafication and mobility that form increasingly significant dimensions of the underlying socio-technical infrastructures of religious journeying.


Over the past two decades, physical travel has increasingly been aided by digital technologies. Some of the questions that drive our inquiry include: Who is responsible for gathering data on pilgrims, and how is such data used? What policies exist regarding types of information and knowledge that can be gathered from pilgrims? What aspects of pilgrims’ data can be deemed sensitive and in need of protection? Are there cross-cultural differences in data collection and practices over how pilgrims’ data is used? What are the implications for pilgrims regarding conditions or situations that may render them ineligible for or excluded from pilgrimage, and who gets to decide?

Behind such empirical questions are powerful concerns relating to data justice that we wish to explore: How might we determine whether there is sufficient transparency about where data is stored and processed, and by whom? What criteria should we use to decide these questions over justice, identity, and mobility? We also invite papers on broader conceptual and theoretical questions concerning the intersections of pilgrimage, mobility, and security.


In addition to our keynote speakers, we also seek submissions in the following categories:

  • Papers (includes completed research papers and research-in-progress papers)
  • Posters (need not be in English)
  • Sessions (one or two hours) for Interactive Engagement (including hands-on workshops developed around case studies, panels with a range of stakeholders, scenarios, )
  • Alternative formats (we have an exhibit space for photographs, films, material objects that speak to the theme, and artefacts exemplifying data trails,)

We invite abstracts from scholars and practitioners working on different religious traditions and disciplinary perspectives. We also encourage community engagement projects, and practical applications of theory. We welcome submissions from outside of Canada.

Examples of topics include:

  • Pilgrims’ online activities including information gathering prior to the journey, or using web-based booking systems;
  • The role of social media in maintaining contacts and networks during and after the
  • Pilgrims as producers of data that may be circulated and accessed through digital trails;
  • Travelers’ risks of exposure to multiple forms of bio- and market-related surveillance and associated data mining;
  • Roles played by political and commercial organizations who are increasingly
    significant gatherers of information from and about pilgrims;
  • Examples of assemblages of systems including booking systems, apps, CCTV, biometrics, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), ID cards, and other monitoring mechanisms.
  • Security measures, security infrastructure in sacred places and in pilgrim destinations

Submissions will be accepted through May 24, 2024 by 11:59pm EST. All submissions will be refereed, and must be in English (even if for a poster). They must include the author’s name and position; full affiliation including email and telephone;  a brief bio;  presentation title, up to five keywords, and an abstract of no more than 500 words for individual submissions and no more than 1000 words for panels/sessions.

Email your submissions to:


  • May 24, 2024 (11:59pm EST): Proposal submission deadline (extended abstracts).
  • June 1, 2024: Refereeing/peer-review completed; acceptance/rejection
  • August 22-24, 2024: Securitizing the Sacred Symposium, Toronto, Canada


The symposium will be held at the University of Toronto and is supported by the Data Sciences Institute.

The symposium organizers are Dr. Nadia Caidi ( and Dr. Simon Coleman (

For inquiries, email us at