The ability to convert is uniquely human. When we awaken to a new faith, join a new political movement, or take on a new identity, we exercise our freedom to reinvent ourselves and also to become who we were always meant to be.
But what if conversion is really a leap into a false ideal, a con game, or something imposed on us by external forces? We treasure the freedom to remake ourselves, but we are also troubled by our own changeability and impressionability.
The Conversions project has brought together an international team of scholars and artists to study the first great Age of Conversion. From around 1400 to 1700, Europeans converted their religious, social, political, and even sexual identities—sometimes voluntarily, sometimes by force.
People in the 21st century also live in a time of globalization and massive change that sees the uncontrolled growth of youth radicalization, conversion-centred violence, and a multi-billion-dollar personal transformation industry.
The Conversions project brings historical scholarship and the creative arts to urgent questions that face us now as we enter the second great Age of Conversion.