CFP | American Academy of Religion Western Region (AARWR)


Arizona State University | March 2-3, 2019

2019 Annual Conference Theme:
Religion and Resistance

Make sure to submit the Program Participant Form when submitting your proposal! 
Click here to download it.

Click Here for a PDF Version 

The overall focus of the 2019 conference is Religion and Resistance. In several senses, all religion and religious expression contain forms of resistance, whether having to do with faith and particular beliefs (e.g., the very claim of revelation, or the transcendent) or their prescriptions for conduct. Beyond the theological and ethical, however, while simultaneously being artifacts of culture, religious material expression is also countercultural.

We invite our colleagues to consider how might resistance best be understood within religious traditions. Where might underexplored figures, movements, and ideas be found for better understanding how resistance has worked historically and in the contemporary moment? Resistance may relate to particular acts (e.g., resistance to particular sins via violent/non-violent action), or resistance to other operative powers and principalities, or to other normative orders in relation to dominant social structures.

Religion has also expressed alternative public and private forms of political resistance. Calvin explained to the King of France that “we must not only resist, but boldly attack prevailing evils.” Buddhism came about through a realization of the need to oppose and remove suffering from the world’s normal order. Judaism and Islam were birthed amid cultural decadence and idolatry, responding to their cultures by creating new orders and ways of living in the world. And various radical dissenting groups have defined themselves by outright nonconformity.

But how is this done? What does resistance look like and how is it facilitated and strengthened? How does it “rock the nation” and lead to demands like, “freedom now,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of? What is resistance ultimately for? How does religion enable its participants to overcome through resistance? What role does religion play? And should religion always be defined in forms of resistance to dominant power structures? Or is religion better-oriented in its enabling and informing of these structures? How may religion function as resistance in both contexts? How also does internal resistance (reform, disruption, redevelopment) take place within traditions?

Beyond the traditional, what does religious resistance look like today? What are various cultural norms and wider external prescriptions that various religious traditions provide antibody (or alternatives) to? And how do these work when various traditions (and their theologies) are co-opted for other ends, be they nationalistic, political, or otherwise foreign to the ontologies and close readings of a tradition’s more radical features? How do religious traditions bring together visions of collaboration with other traditions for collective resistance to larger structures that may threaten ideas of religion, or freedom of religion, and what sort of ontologies and anthropologies are these affirming in order to work? What is lost or gained in these questions of religion and resistance?
Please see the individual unit call for proposals below. Interested scholars and students should consult the general directions on the AARWR website ( and e-mail proposals and participant forms as an attachment to respective unit chairs.
Asian American Religious Studies.
As the general conference theme of AAR/AR 2019 is Religion and Resistance, Asian American Religious Studies invite papers pertinent to religion and resistance. We are interested in understanding and interpretation of religious resistance including from alternative public and private forms of political resistance from theological, ethical or historical perspectives in Asian American contexts. What does religious resistance look like today or at particular time frame? What are various cultural norms and wider external prescriptions that various religious traditions provide alternative to.
Please send proposals to Thien-Huong T. Ninh ( and Jeongyun April Hur (
Buddhist Studies
The Buddhist Studies unit invites papers on any topic exploring this year's conference theme of "Religion and Resistance" directly or tangentially. We welcome papers covering any school of Buddhism and from all disciplinary approaches. Topics of interest not related to the conference theme will also be considered as space permits.
Please send proposals to Alison Jameson ( and Jake Nagasawa (
Catholic Studies
The Catholic Studies unit invites submissions on diverse topics within the field of Catholic Studies, but especially submissions that relate to this year’s conference theme of Religion and Resistance. We welcome submissions that explore the ways that Catholic institutions, communities, and individuals have resisted internal movements and figures (for example, through reform, disruption, and redevelopment), as well as the ways that Catholic institutions, communities, and individuals have fostered movements that were resisted by external forces. In an effort to bring perspectives commensurate to the diversity of the subject matter, we seek submissions that utilize a diversity of methodologies, including but not limited to critical, ethical, historical, philosophical, and theological perspectives.
Please send an abstract of 250 words as well as a completed participant form to Eva Braunstein ( and to Justin Claravall (
Ecology and Religion
As humanity grapples with increasingly dire realities of, for example, climate crisis, biodiversity decline, deforestation, agricultural fertility changes, coral bleaching, and pollution of fresh and salt waters, participants in diverse religious traditions articulate creative ethical solutions, imagining a more just and sustainable world. In part, solution building requires people to address moral failures and challenge unjust structures of power that have ushered in the Anthropocene era, in which human beings have turned geological and meteorological history away from life-renewing balance. Religions and specific communities, then, can offer powerful voices and perspectives to resist frameworks of degradation, destruction, exploitation, and domination.
For 2019, the Ecology and Religion unit encourages proposals that address the relationship of religion and resistance pertaining to the contemporary environmental crisis, as well as broader ecological issues. Around the world, communities are drawing from religious traditions to resist structural domination concerning the environment—from indigenous and interfaith protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota; to the movement resisting oil companies by the Ogoni people in Nigeria; to Black Christian churches organizing around water toxicity levels and environmental justice concerns in Flint, Michigan; to Hinduism’s influence on the seed freedom movement resisting corporate seed-patenting in India; and many more. Proposals might cover any number of related topics, including climate and environmental activism, global resistance movements, political ecology, climate colonialism, land and water rights, environmental racism and sexism, globalization, climate racism, resisting neoliberalism, fossil fuel dependence and alternative energy, environmental sacrifice zones, dismantling racism and patriarchy, among many others. We are particularly interested in projects that address concrete, local-global ecological concerns, resisting destruction by constructing “alternatives” that renew life in specific places of meaning.
The Ecology and Religion unit also invites proposals that address the intersection of religion, theology, environment, and sustainability more broadly. Proposals may cover eco-theology, climate justice, indigenous traditions and methodologies, eco-/womanist ethics, ecofeminism, black feminist thought, black liberation theology, postcolonial perspectives, new materialisms, queer theology and ecology, animal ethics, nature ethics, environmental ethics, environmental justice, conflict and peace, environmental and public health, and more.
Please submit a one-page proposal to both section co-chairs: Sarah Robinson-Bertoni ( and Matthew Hartman ( See also the co-sponsored call with the Ecology and Religion and the Ethics units.
In light of this year's conference theme, we invite proposals relating to the ethics of resistance. Recently, academic publications and grassroots presentations alike have stressed the need to resist contemporary expressions of injustice, inequality, and violence. What descriptive, evaluative, and constructive roles might religious ethics play in illuminating and advancing meaningful discussions about when Resistance is morally justified or obligatory? Possible paper topics might include: the ongoing relevance of religious exemplars of ethical resistance; the relationship between resistance and religious practices in various traditions (such as meditation in Buddhism, Sabbath in Judaism, eucharist in Christianity, and jihad in Islam); the complex ways religions shape the contours of ethical resistance, both in funding its possibilities and in constraining its limits; how forgiveness might figure into discussions about resistance: does the former require us to find alternative ways of dealing with injustice—other than resistance?; religious confrontation with, renunciation of, and/or embrace of violence; and the connection between religious ethics and aesthetics (such as the integration of poetry and prophecy, etc.) Please email proposals to Owen Anderson ( and Joshua Beckett (
* See also the co-sponsored call with the Ecology and Religion and the Ethics units.
Education and Pedagogy
The Education and Pedagogy unit is interested in the work many of us share: What we do with the students enrolled in our courses? Similar to the longstanding national AAR unit on “teaching religion” ( ), this unit invites papers that explore innovative teaching practices and course design as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning. In addition, the unit is a venue where individuals in the region can deepen their engagement in disciplinary debates and theoretical interests (e.g. various critiques of the idea of “religion”) by exploring their implications for how we design curriculum and structure courses (e.g. how design a survey that does not essentialize religion? How to incorporate a lived religion approach to assignments?).  
The 2019 conference theme, asks us to consider how religion and resistance intersect. We invite proposals relating teaching and learning to this theme including but not limited to one or more of the following questions: How is or can teaching be a form of resistance? What tools or pedagogical approaches allow us to engage our students in acts of resistance as a mode of learning? How do we harness the potential for resistance in the classroom to deepen learning? What is the relationship between teaching and activism, both of the professor and the students? What are models for community-based learning that engage students in the work of resistance as a link between academia and community? What are best practices for engaging students with the resistance efforts of local faith communities and organizations?
We are particularly interested in papers, workshops, and other methods of presenting that embody the pedagogical commitments of the section.
Interested individuals should consult the general directions on the AAR/WR website ( and e-mail proposals and participant forms as an attachment to Philip Boo Riley ( and Melissa James (
Goddess Studies:
This year’s theme is religion and resistance; how might the history of women in mythic or religious literature and imagery apply to resistance? There have been quite a few women at the forefront of recent civil unrest and protest—whether that be on the streets, on the page, or in the media (including television, music, and performance art). Do any of the symbols and patterns of resistance have precursors within the narrative(s) of women—gender all inclusive—in mythology, or in images of Goddess-related spirituality? How so? Why might this be important? How might related archetypes have relevance in the current era of Time’s Up, #MeToo, school walkouts, Take a Knee, #OscarsSoWhite, and the ever-widening need for intercultural and intersectional dialogue? We welcome papers that touch on any of the above subjects through the lens of the socio-political, critical, feminist, mythological, depth psychological, LGBTQ, hermeneutic, historical, religious, and/or pop-cultural.
Please send proposals to both unit co-chairs Angela Sells ( and Jan Kristen Peppler (
Graduate Student Professional Development
Call for Mentors and Mentees:
This year, in lieu of a call for papers, the GSPD unit will begin to develop a mentor-mentee program to regionally mirror the national mentoring program, which can be found
here. To this end, we are calling for mentors who would like to mentor freshly minted PhD’s, developing scholars, and graduate students in the Western region. In addition, we are calling for freshly minted PhD’s, developing scholars, and graduate students in the region who would like to be assigned a regional mentor. Mentors and mentees do not need to be regionally located within the Western region to become a Western region mentor or mentee.
What We Do:
The Unit Faculty Mentor is Dr. Jonathan Lee, Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University and the Unit Chair is Joseph Kim Paxton, doctoral student of practical theology at the Claremont School of Theology. Dr. Lee and Joseph will nominate and approve mentors. Mentor applications will be received throughout the year. Mentee applications will be received with the general call for papers due 1 October and be reviewed by the Unit Faculty Mentor and Unit Chair. Mentee applications will then be matched with available mentors for the upcoming year, from the regional 2019 conference until the regional 2020 conference. The unit chairs will attempt to match mentee applicants with mentors as best as possible based on their application data but cannot guarantee an exact match. Our focus is to serve and support freshly minted PhDs, developing scholars, and graduate students who are looking for jobs and working to complete graduate school. Based on the number of mentors, we cannot guarantee that all applicants will be matched with a mentor.
The mentors will provide assistance, guidance, and support when and where possible. Areas of mentoring include (but are not limited to):

  • Balancing work/life/studies
  • Conference presentations
  • CV
  • Developing as a professor
  • Disclosure of various aspects of identity
  • Managing professional conflict
  • Mental health and self-care
  • Networking and professional relationships
  • Navigating job searches and hiring negotiations
  • Publishing
  • Tenure and promotion
  • Working with a dissertation committee

Expectations of Participants

  • Connect by phone/Skype/Zoom/etc. at least twice throughout the year
  • Connect additionally as agreed upon
  • Meet once, face-to-face, at the Regional Meeting (if this is not possible then replacing an in-person meeting with a phone/Skype/Zoom/etc., during the year
  • Mentors and mentees will respond promptly (within 1-week) to communication, even if only to say they will be in touch at a later date (our goal is to ensure that participants do not neglect their mentor or mentee)
  • Mentors and mentees share the responsibility for setting up meetings with each other
  • Professional and ethical boundaries within the mentor-mentee relationship (to be navigated and negotiated based on the individual differences of each mentor and mentee)

You will also be asked to provide the regional Student Director, Joseph Kim Paxton, with feedback via a survey at the end of the year (April 1, 2019). To apply please send your CV and a cover letter expressing the desire to participate in this program to Jonathan Lee ( and Joseph Paxton (
History of Christianity
From the earliest days of the Christian movement, the gospel - that is, the news about the teachings, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the transformative effect of these events on the world - has engendered a profoundly counter-cultural mode of living in its adherents. Even as Christianity evolved into an institutionalized and normative religion over the course of subsequent centuries, groups of Christians (from monastic orders to reform movements to evangelical and missionary organizations) continued to find within the gospel resources for resisting the values and mores of the surrounding culture in order to effect spiritual renewal, political change, and social reform within the broader society. One could say that regardless of historical context, geographical or social location, etc., the message and embodiment of the gospel have, to some degree, run counter to the prevailing values and norms of all societies at all times. In a sense, the gospel manages to be perpetually counter-cultural.
In light of this observation, we are interested in hearing papers that examine historical examples of individuals, people groups, and movements which have challenged the prevailing secular (or sacred!) culture through their embodiment of various facets of the gospel message. We are interested in papers which examine all epochs of Christian history, including the (very) recent past. Please be aware that while this topic is rather theological in nature, we are looking for *historical* papers that examine people and their actions within their historical context. Papers that are mostly or entirely theological in their content will not be accepted.
Please send proposals to both unit co-chairs Dyron Daughrity ( and David M. Houghton (
Indigenous Religions
Dangerous Religious Memories as Resistance

For 2019, we invite paper proposals on any aspect of the study of Indigenous Religions, especially related to the conference theme. With the possibility of a co-sponsored session with the Latinx and Latin American Religion Unit, we offer the following prompts:


  • Dangerous religious memories as resistance. How do Indigenous Christians narrate their native identities and practice or reintroduce rituals and ceremonies within their church communities? How have resistance movements within colonial religious (or socioeconomic) structures contributed to the production of new or reformulated indigenous religious traditions? As scholars, we seek to develop ways to theorize these movements to disrupt and decolonize churches from structures or methods that continually excise indigenous people and their perspectives. 

  • "¿Y dónde está tu ombligo?” Where is your umbilical cord? Ceremony and healing as epistemic resistance:  considerations of Patrisia Gonzales’ Red Medicine.  For this author-meets-critics session, we invite papers that provide critical and creative responses to Patrisia Gonzales’ book, Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012). Why is healing such an important part of contemporary indigenous religious life? How has Red Medicine contributed to community projects to reclaim and renew healing traditions, including childbirth? And how do these healing practices intersect with decolonizing resistance discourses and movements?

Please send paper proposals to Brian Clearwater (, Cecilia Titizano ( and Kevin Whitesides (
Islamic Studies
The AAR Western Region’s Islamic Studies Unit encourages papers and panel proposals in all areas of our field of study for the upcoming 2019 conference. The 2019 general theme focuses on “Religion and Resistance.” We invite papers and panels focusing on the main theme of the conference addressing questions such as: how might resistance best be understood within Islam and Islamic traditions theologically and/or culturally? How have the different forms of resistance in Islam changed throughout history? How has resistance developed historically and in contemporary times? We also encourage papers addressing how have Muslim communities, organizations, and texts grappled with the concept of religion and resistance, religion and violence, religion and peace. In the context of the overall conference theme, we hope that your paper proposals will position, problematize, and offer insight on the concept of “religion and resistance.” We encourage individual papers as well panel proposals.
Proposals or abstracts should be sent to Dr. Souad T. Ali ( and Dr. Sophia Pandya (
Jewish Studies
Over the past 30 years, the study of Jewish texts has taken a dramatic turn. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, speaking for Mishnaic studies, but really for the field of ancient Jewish literature, has argued that scholarship now shows a "sensitivity to literary devices and techniques, and us[ing] new interpretive paradigms from rhetoric, cultural, and performative studies . . . [as well as] narratology and performance theory.” The diversification has resulted in keeping texts relevant to today’s lived experience. Art too has its function in unveiling the unstated, assumed, and unproblematized in the contemporary world. In his Aesthetic Theory, T. W. Adorno writes, "By articulating the otherwise ineffable contradictions of society, figuration takes on the features of a praxis which is the opposite of escapism, transforming art into a mode of behavior. Art is a type of praxis and there is no need to make apologies for its failure to act directly."
In the spirit of Rosen-Zvi and Adorno, Jewish academic scholarship and the arts, whether literary, dance, or musical, perform a diversity of strategies to interrogate text and culture, disrupting traditional paradigms, accepted wisdom, and cultural norms.
Jewish Studies Unit of the AARWR, invites papers that demonstrate scholarship related to ancient Jewish literature that questions and/or engages in a dialectic with its embedded cultures or accepted Jewish traditions. The unit also invites papers that demonstrate how the arts serve as counter-culture commentary, as an interrogation of traditional or popular Jewish culture, and/or as a site for the expression of questioning, irony, and angst.
Please send inquiries to Roberta Sabbath (
Latina, Latino, and Latin American Religion
The Latina, Latino, Latin American Religion unit welcomes any and all submissions related to the study of Latinx and Latin American religion, especially those that expand interdisciplinary, critically engaged, and intersectional approaches and methodologies. We understand religion and resistance as inextricable—that is, while the history of colonialism and imperialism were often propelled through structures of religion, Latin American and Latinx communities resisted against violent, economic, and racialized oppression through their own forms of religious expression. We invite contributors to consider the following themes related to religion and resistance, especially through artistic, historical, and theological methods:
1) Environment and Ecology
-     Latinx and Latin American movements in response to catastrophic environmental destruction and related to climate change, colonialism, and neoliberalism.
-     Latinx and Latin American futurisms as alternative visions of space, place, and environment.
-     Rural/agrarian land rights movements and resistance to urban gentrification.
2) Imago Dei
-     Religious responses to migrant apprehension, incarceration, detention, and racialized violence.
-     Prison abolition movements and prison ministry.
-     LGBTQ movements.
3) Divine Feminine
-     Mariology and Goddess veneration.
-     Chicanx, Afro-Latinx, and Indigenous Feminisms, including brujeria and curanderismo.
-     The movement for the ordination of women.
4) Social media, Social Justice, and Religion
-     The rise of social media as a transnational and intersectional site of religious practice. and social justice, especially in bridging the U.S. Latinx and Latin American religious communities.
-     The use of new aesthetic forms of resistance, including memes, public art, and podcasts.
Please submit proposals and participant forms to Unit Co-Chairs Lauren Frances Guerra ( & Daisy Vargas (
Nineteenth Century
The Nineteenth Century unit provides a forum for the study of various religions around the world in the nineteenth century. This year the unit invites papers or panels that reflect the 2018 conference theme: Religion and Resistance. The unit welcomes all methodologies and is open to papers that reflect the myriad directions that resistance took in the nineteenth century. For instance, papers might explore how religious leaders, theologies, churches, religious groups, communes or sects sought (or in some cases were created) to resist dominant secular metanarratives in the 19th century, such as racism, nationalism, nativism, imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, socialism, or Social Darwinism. Or papers might investigate how some religious entities resisted liberalizing tendencies in the face of modernism, pluralism, historical criticism of scripture, or advancing theories of evolution. Papers might also explore resistance to social injustices or to perceived evils in society and what modes religious resistance took. Finally, papers might explore how new religious sects/denominations resisted oppression from more dominate forms of belief and bucked convention in the nineteenth century.
Please send your proposal and participant form via email attachment to unit chair Christina Littlefield ( If you are proposing a panel of three to four papers, please include short abstracts for each paper on the panel, and a short description of your panel theme.
Pagan Studies
The Pagan Studies unit welcomes paper proposals addressing many aspects of contemporary Paganism, especially relating to practitioners’ diverse or non-diverse political identities and political actions. Papers might address subjects such as Pagans’ involvement in political actions for social and ecological justice or Pagans’ pleas and actions for the protection of religious freedom—theirs and others. The Pagan Studies unit is interested in receiving paper proposals that situate the Neo-Pagan movement within the context of global paganisms and discuss the politics of naming. Whom does “paganism” include? How do we decide? Who has the authority to make the call? Along this line, papers might present data on or from multi-ethnic and multi-racial Pagan identities and might perhaps address the topic of best practices in Indigenous-NeoPagan relations. The Pagan Studies unit is also accepting papers on ecological activism for a co-sponsored session with the Religion and Ecology Unit. Direct proposals to Michelle Mueller ( and Dorothea Kahena Viale (
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Religion unit of welcomes papers broadly focused on the theme of the relationship between religion and the human subject. Recent arguments in philosophy increasingly suggest that every conscious experience involves a "minimal" sense of self. Understanding selfhood and personal identity has been of main importance to religious traditions, both theologically and in concern for the actual human condition. What are the distinctions and similarities between the two approaches to the self? Is the self “self-given,” that is, reveals its nature by the simple fact of its presence, or is it constituted by cultural, social, historical intersubjectivity? We call for critical cross-examination of doxastic and evidence-based, philosophical and theological, religious and secularistic perspectives on the self.
The AARWR meeting theme “Religion and Resistance” also inspires us to ask: What are the dangers to the self, and what kinds of resistance(s) emancipate(s) the human spirit in the current discourse? Defining and describing religious perspectives on selfhood, we welcome both analytic and phenomenological (continental philosophical) inquiries into the status of the self, religious emancipation, violence, moral deliberation, self-transcendence, and the social practices of resistance, as conditions of possibility and necessity of the self’s homelike being in the world.
In light of these overarching interests, tentatively and dependent on the contents and number of submissions, we aim at putting together two panels. In the first panel, we would like to answer the questions of foundational ontology of the self, such as, but not limited to, what comprises the essence of selfhood?  What philosophically identified parameters (e.g. self-luminosity, self-reflectivity, “what it’s like to have the self,” etc.) apply to religious understanding of the self, and vice versa? On what level, and how, can the self be “divided” or “split”, co-opted or healed? What is the role of intersubectivity and the world in self-revelation of the self?  In the second panel, we would like to weave the foundational understandings of the self into examinations of its practices, with a particular emphasis on contrasting views concerning the place of resistance in interpersonal and social self-experience. The divergences of accounts of what the self consists of and how it relates to experience of a shared world foster dialogue between the various positions, identifications and clarifications of the points of disagreement, and assessing the relative plausibility of conflicting claims about the nature of the self. Considering the breadth of our central thesis, we also invite papers on the themes not specifically outlined in this call: if you think these contribute to understanding of the relationship between religion and the self, in context of resistance, please send your 500-600 word proposals by the 1 October deadline to Dane Sawyer ( and Olga Louchakova-Schwartz (

Psychology, Culture, and Religion
Keeping with the annual theme of “Religion and Resistance,” the Psychology, Culture and Religion unit (PCR) welcomes proposals for papers that explore resistance as a moral force that demands freedom, respect, and equality. We would like to incite inquiry on how diverse faith traditions call us to engage in social action in the work for justice. As events develop in the political arena, we encourage reflection on the changes that occur at both the individual and social levels from communal practices and conversations as religious traditions inspire/drive/obligate ordinary people to oppose injustice. We encourage you to explore the spirit, motivation and methods provided by faith traditions to help address the socio-political struggles of today.
Relevant research topics/questions may include:
●    The benefits of non-violent direct action and the strategies for resistance that are rooted in religion. How does a religious culture promote (or impede) acts of resistance in the public sphere?
●    Can resistance function as a means of personal growth or self-actualization? If so, what is the relationship between the growth of the individual and the wellspringing of civil and social rights for the community?
●    How do allied traditions create joint cultures of resistance (i.e. how do religious practitioners stop resisting each other and begin resisting a common threat?) And how ‘deep’ does this solidarity run? (Should they develop a new theology of togetherness? Or accept a certain level of internal division for the sake of a greater good?)
●    And finally, let’s not forget that we have a duty as scholars of religion, so how do we resist? How do we ignite transformative social change from academia?
At PCR we are looking to explore these dynamics through papers that delve into the intersectionality of religion and resistance. We seek papers covering all religions and spiritual traditions, and exploring any of the junctures within culture from all disciplinary approaches.
Presenters must be members in good standing of the American Academy of Religion and register for the conference prior to their presentation. Please submit abstracts to the attention of the Yuria Celidwen ( and Casey Crosbie ( 
Queer Studies in Religion
“Reimagining Queer Resistance: Desert Journeys and Rodeo Dreams”
What do queerness and mysticism look like in a desert world? How does practicing one’s spirituality come into conflict with their sexuality and vice-versa in monastic spaces and practices? Can we find spirituality/G-d/G-ddess through queer journeys into the symbolic space of the desert and how can we emphasize a new reimagining of what it means to be religiously queer in a post-2018 world?
Queer studies in religion seeks papers that engage a critical conversation between mysticism, queerness, the desert, spirituality/religion, and beyond normative practices of worship. For example, we are very interested in conversations about the connection of queerness and its relationship to the desert and the monastic journey of the queer/LGBTQIA+ body in religious/spiritual spaces.
Finally, the Queer Studies in Religion session wants to emphasize any type of scholarship
that explores queer (LGBTQIA+) studies in religion from queer identified or allied
scholars both within and outside of the academy.
Please send a 250-word proposal alongside the program participant form to Queer Studies in Religion Co-Chairs John Erickson ( and Marie Cartier (
Religion and the Arts
We welcome a wide variety of papers, workshops, and/or fully developed panels (3-4 persons) on the intersectionality of art, religion, and resistance. Art is used here in the broad sense: folk, iconography, animation, performance, comedy, photography, video, TV, graffiti, and music, to name a few areas. Religion and religious expression are also used in the broad senses of the words—including interest someone assigns supreme importance. Proposals may respond to not only theoretical dimensions of opposition through art that may threaten ideas of religion and religious freedom, but also their interplay with contemporary counter culture movements. Successful proposals will clearly articulate the thesis and evidence, as well as, offer a preliminary discussion how the paper contributes to the academic study of religion.
Though not an exhaustive list, below are a handful of questions that may guide your submission, with the expectation that your paper will be significantly narrowed down:
•     How was religious art used in and/or as a response to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign?
•     How do art genres (e.g., hip-hop, punk music, experimental film, and pop art) use religion to resist nationalistic, political evils or social goods?
•     Must art and religion necessarily be a source of resistance?
•     How do scholars of indigenous religions explore tensions between resistance and various arts forms? 
•     What are some new or novel theories about religious art and historic social movements (e.g., Civil Rights Movement, apartheid, Black Lives Matter, #metoo, immigration reform)?
•     How has religion and art been co-opted by political propaganda?
•     How do eastern religions express political resistance through art?
•     How does art build a communal identity in spaces of resistance?
•     Where does the field of arts and religion in an age of resistance or neo-fascism need to be going?
•     What is activist religious art?
•     What transformational borderlands occur when religion influences art movements focused on social change?
•     How do religion and art function together to provide a vision of social justice?
•     How do western religions express alternative understandings of resistance through art?
•     What are ethical, theological, and/or metaphysical implications of religious art as resistance art?
•     What is lost or gained in questions of religion, art, and resistance?
Other topics, ideas, and themes not listed here are certainly welcome too. Please send an abstract of no more than 350 words, with a title above the abstract, and participant form to unit chairs Dr. Roy Whitaker ( and Tamisha A. Tyler (
Religion, Science, and Technology
For the 2019 meeting, we welcome proposals on any aspect of science, technology and religion in the contemporary world. We are especially interested in presenting research on religion, science, technology, and resistance.
In this secular age, resistance is most often understood as resistance to injustice and oppressive power. However, resistance can also be shown to science and technology which are seen as vehicles of excessive rationalization of human society. On the opposite side, resistance can be applied to religion and anything supernatural, seen as primitive and superstitious. This session zooms in on this anthropological dimension of resistance, in an attempt to investigate how and why human beings resist scientific and technological progress in the name of super-mundane truths. This session also investigates how and why human beings resist religious ontology and anthropology in the name of science and technology. Scholars are invited to provide theoretical contributions for a descriptive and normative religious framework that will allow us to understand why some people resist the possibility of cooperation between science/technology and a supernatural religion. Possible topical focus for papers: resistance to robotization; interreligious views on science, technology, and robotics; total automation as human resistance to religion; biosciences and human resistance; emerging technologies and human resistance to death; digitalization as resistance to traditional religions; self-driving vehicles and human resistance.
Please send paper proposals to Enrico Beltramini ( and Marianne Delaporte (
Religion and Social Sciences
Throughout history, religions comprised an abundance of symbolic resources to be utilized in practice which prompted, and continuously prompt, resistance or submission to the status quo. From the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States, over to the the Islamist resurgence in the Islamic Middle East at about the same historical period, to the contemporary examples of religious advocacy groups that counter authoritarianism in China, religion has served as a driver to move populations and the governments towards goals that do not necessarily overlap. The divergence has often proven to be both transformational, while also often leading to conflict. Even if these actions by religious groups do not give rise to a full-fledged social movement, religious resistance can and often does take place in everyday life, shifting and changing what both society looks like, as well as the religious groups themselves. Whether religious resistance means religious institutions exercising leverage to change laws and policies, or whenever discontented citizens reframe the national narrative in exclusionary religious terms, as is the case with Evangelical Christians in the United States, religious actors and organizations resist the norms of the day and often help create new ones. Religions continue to serve as tools for framing resistance in the present age and understanding what these actions look like, as well as their impact, is a timely and important topic.
We welcome all papers that address the theme of the conference and encourage papers from a variety of social science disciplines. All methodological and epistemological approaches are encouraged. We also welcome contributions that address the theme of the conference from a global perspective. Please send paper proposals to:
Religion in America
Theme 1: Resistance and Complicity in America. Given this year's theme of “Religion and Resistance,” we invite papers looking not only at how resistance manifests in the mutual antagonisms of American religions and of the religious left(s) and right(s), but also at how religious worldviews resist (or are complicit with) other worldviews, like capitalist corporate globalism, nationalism, racial ideologies, and so on. How do religions function effectively within a "balance of powers" arrangement by resisting other huge forces like capitalism, the nation-state, mass media, and so on? And how and why do they not? We encourage proposals about religious involvement (or not) in things like unionizing and lobbying against (or for) corporate interests; religious promotion of conspiracy theories, satire and parody, and other modes of resistance; religious resistance against (and embrace of) the current administration; and so on.
Theme 2: Comparative Worldview Studies in America. Due to the complexity and diversity of the American context, the study of religion in America is, in many ways, an instance of “comparative religion” in miniature. Relative to both research and teaching, there have been a number of recent efforts to reconsider the practice of comparison and the viability of the world religions paradigm. A “worldview studies” paradigm has recently been proposed by Ann Taves and others as a potential approach that grounds its categories for comparative research and teaching in evolved biological realities. Papers testing, challenging, supporting, or applying the worldview studies approach to American data are invited.
Individual papers and full panels on other topics, themes, and issues are also welcome. Please send your 250-word proposals and participant forms to Nathan Fredrickson (, Konden Smith (, and Cristina Rosetti (
Religion, Literature, and Film
The Religion, Literature, and Film unit welcomes proposals addressing various religions or themes related to religious spirituality, practices, principles, psychology, and philosophy as presented in contemporary literature or contemporary films. We are open to proposals that explore fictional and non-fictional representations of religion and/or religious themes as represented through literature and film. Specific interests of the unit are proposals of an interdisciplinary studies approach to examining religion, literature, and film. In addition, the unit welcomes proposals that explore the relevance or non-relevance vitality or breakdown of religion as reflected in cultural or social zeitgeist. In concurrence with the regional conference theme of Religion and Resistance the Religion, Literature, and Film unit is specifically interested in proposals that explore the individual’s resistance to him or herself. More accurately, the Religion, Literature, and Film unit invites papers and presentations addressing an individual’s resistance to his or her shadow or unconscious spirituality, his or her calling or purpose in life/universe, and/or his or her resistance to innate faith or the concept of faith. Please send a 250-word proposal and your 2019 program participation form to section chairs Emmanuelle Patrice ( and Jon R. Stone (
Religions of Asia
Promoting inclusivity and excellence in scholarship, this section invites individual papers covering a variety of religious and cultural traditions to explore all aspects of Religions of Asia. This year, we are especially interested in papers that relate to the conference’s 2019 overall theme of "religion and resistance." What examples of historical or current resistance have arisen within the contexts of Asian religions? What is the nature of religious authority within religions of Asia, and how has such authority become either subverted or outright overturned to create totally new and diverse interpretations? In what ways have the dominant trends within religions of Asia become challenged so as to produce beliefs and practices that are more efficacious, just, and liberating? How have religions of Asia provided the necessary power of resistance to effectively intervene against strictly secular or societal issues? How is resistance discussed and treated across the contemporary landscapes of religions of Asia? How do ideas in Asia about religions inform ideologies within culture more broadly? We encourage the submission of papers that utilize interdisciplinary and non-traditional approaches to research. Other topics and themes of interest to the Religions of Asia group include: ways in which Asian religions interact with art, music, material culture, and ideology; rites of passage (birth, marriage, death, etc.); sacred spaces; the body as location for religious experience or ideology; religious and/or secular rituals or performances; gender and religion; religion and ecology; sacred text; or storytelling and oral tradition. Please send abstracts as email attachments to Anna M. Hennessey ( and Michael Reading ( We look forward to receiving your proposals.
Womanist and Pan African Unit CFP 2019
This group provides a forum for religious scholarship that engages theoretically and methodologically the four-part definition of a Womanist as coined by Alice Walker. We nurture interdisciplinary scholarship, encourage interfaith dialogue, and seek to engage scholars and practitioners in fields outside the study of religion. We are particularly concerned with fostering scholarship that bridges theory and practice to address issues of public policy in church and society.
2019 Unit Theme: Womanist Religion and Resistance
In accordance with the AARWR Conference theme, we invite colleagues to consider how might resistance best be understood within religious traditions and the lived experience. A womanist ethos evolved with theoethical articulation of Katie Cannon, first generation womanist scholar: “Black women scholars in the fields of theology, ethics, biblical studies, and the history and sociology of religion had begun problematizing and critiquing the ways racist, sexist, and classist ideologies were sewn into dominant Christian, feminist, and black liberation theological perspectives.” As well, womanist Melanie Harris notes, “black women’s experiences of and resistance to racism, classism, and sexism not only influenced their own theological perspectives, but highly informed them.” Moreover, in what ways do religion and spiritual practices impact and operate in the lives of those of the Black Experience throughout the Diaspora which are “life giving and not death dealing” (Mercy Oduyoye). Resistance is a consciousness that warrants reflection. For women of color, what does resistance look like; how is it facilitated and strengthened? What role does religion play, if any?    
Session I: Womanist Session
Topical Focus – Womanist Survival as Resistance
We invite presenters to explore perspectives and practices in the African American experience and seek papers examining the philosophical, theological, ethical, or practical modes in which women’s lived experiences involve connections of resistance to survival in communal praxis, discernment mechanisms to navigate systems and structures, and the ways in which faith / religion plays a role. Consider how is resistance embodied in theology, spirituality, cultural arts to inform the secular and the sacred? In the societal justice work of the Black Lives Matter movement, describe a theology of resistance.
Session II: Pan African Session
Topical Focus: Uncovering the Roots of Collective Resistance
We invite presenters to examine how is communal resistance (reform, disruption, redevelopment) rooted, formed, or manifested within traditions? How do visions of collaboration with other traditions for collective resistance factor into personal and communal identities? What are the transnational bridges for simultaneous resistance and reconciliation? [We seek contributions that reflect critically on the international diversity of African and African American Diaspora and the faith traditions and religious experiences in line with the regional conference theme to explore gendered, socio-political, ritual, transnational dimensions of religious scholarship and the Black experience, including immigrant, global African, Caribbean and other African Diasporic experiences, not limited to an American or Continental experience.]
Please send both a 250-word proposal to indicate which session you are submitting and the program participant form to Valerie Miles-Tribble (, Sakena Young-Scaggs (, and Ineda Adesanya ( We are eager and excited for another year in Womanist/Pan African Religious scholarship in the Western Region.
Proposal Submission Note:
●     Individuals whose proposals are accepted must be members of the AAR prior to conference date in order to present. Be sure to include member ID.
●     Process: Proposals are anonymous to steering committee during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
●     You will receive notification regarding the status of your proposal by December 2018.
●     To Submit or for additional information, please contact either: Unit Leaders
Women and Religion
The Women and Religion unit invites paper proposals that address the conference theme, Religion and Resistance, as it intersects with women’s lives, experiences, and religious identity; gender identities and their embodied realities; women in the academy; etc. The unit welcomes all proposals related to the conference theme, though we also offer the following themes for your consideration:
•     Role models of resistance: historical, contemporary, and imaginary/ fictional—the significance of role models for marginalized peoples, bodies and/or communities, particularly in light of the erasure and co-optation of histories, herstories and women’s bodies. Analysis or these figures, their limitations or their potentialities.
•     Politics of resistance and politics beyond resistance, paying particular attention to women’s experiences (broadly defined). This may include analysis of current movements of resistance (#metoo, #timesup, etc.), as well as critiques of these movements or suggestions as to ‘what comes after resistance,’ or how we integrate feminist or other liberative ethics into society, institution, etc. in places/ cases of successful resistance.
•     Religion as a help or hinderance in women’s resistance and navigating the “insider/ outside” status of feminist resistance.
•     Survival, subsistence, and/or thriving in a time of resistance/ as resistance. Resistance, for many women, is a way of life or of refusing death. What are our strategies of survival and resistance? How do they relate to faith, religion or spirituality, positively or negatively? How is or can resistance be more than survival? Can we or where are we thriving in resistance, and what does this look like?
Please send your 250-word proposal and participant form Sara Frykenberg ( We look forward to receiving your proposal.
New Book Session - That All May Flourish: Comparative Religious Environmental Ethics
Ecology and Religion Unit and Ethics Unit
Panelists will discuss the new book That All May Flourish (Oxford University Press, 2018), which brings together a variety of scholarly chapters on religious environmental ethics both in depth and in comparison. The panel will include both book contributors and respondents in conversation. From the book blurb: “Can humans flourish without destroying the earth? In this book, experts on many of the world's major and minor religious traditions address the question of human and earth flourishing…Taken together, the chapters reveal that the question of flourishing is deceptively