PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Black Theology Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit seeks to further develop Black theology as an academic enterprise. In part, this is accomplished by providing opportunities for exchanges related to basic issues of Black theology’s content and form. In addition, the Unit seeks to broaden conversation by bringing Black theology into dialogue with other disciplines and perspectives on various aspects of African diasporic religious thought and life.

Call for Papers: 

The Black Theology Unit invites individual papers and panel submissions on the topics identified below. We also encourage proposals on additional topics of interest that advance the discipline of Black theology.

• Black Theology and American Civil Religion
How does Black theology address and engage American civil religion, specifically its re-reading of American history, national symbols (e.g., flags), rituals, holidays, and monuments.

• Black Theology as Public Theology
What are the tasks, roles and priorities of Black theology as public theology? How might a Black public theology define the spiritual left?

• Black Theology and Black Studies
How do new forms of Black theology rethink the “theological” within a Black studies paradigm?

• Race and Mental Health
How does Black theology as a pastoral theology address issues of race and mental health?

• James Cone’s The Cross and The Lynching Tree
James Cone’s revolutionary book The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis, 2011) won the prestigious 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. We invite papers that critically engage this award-winning text. (Jointly sponsored with the Grawemeyer Award in Religion given by the University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.)

• Sisters in the Wilderness: Classic Landmark Work Twenty-Five Years Later
This year marks twenty-five years since the publication of Delores S. Williams’ Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk (Orbis, 1993). Drawing on the biblical figure of Hagar mother of Ishmael, cast into the desert by Abraham and Sarah, but protected by God, Williams finds a prototype for the struggle of African diasporic women. Hagar, an African slave, homeless exile, surrogate mother, serves as metaphor for an image of survival and defiance appropriate to Black women today. To commemorate the anniversary, we invite papers that address the interfaith/interreligious theological significance of this groundbreaking text then and today, and its role in the formation of womanist theological perspectives, epistemologies, methodologies, and pedagogies. Co-sponsored with the Black Theology Unit, the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit, the Women of Color, Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Unit, SBL Feminist Biblical Hermeneutics, and SBL Women in the Biblical World.

• Hip Hop Culture and Black Theology
The Black Theology Unit and Critical Approaches to Religion and Hip Hop Unit invite individual papers and panel submissions for a co-sponsored session exploring the varied connections between Hip Hop culture and Black theology. Possible submission topics might include, but are not limited to the following: Hip Hop as prophetic critique, discourse and commentary, quest for meaning, memory and identity? How ought religion/race be theorized and discussed in the Trump era? What role does the sacred/profane binary play as a rhetorical strategy and political designator? How have rappers like Kendrick, Chance, and Lecrae created a space for “woke” rap? What is “Christian” or “Holy” Hip Hop? Pedagogically, how might we look at teaching Hip Hop and Black religion and theology? How have new media, (e.g., podcasts, YouTube, internet and radio shows such as the Breakfast Club) reconstructed Hip Hop culture and its future? How might we explore the intersections of White Evangelicalism onto mainstream Hip Hop culture?

• Martin Luther King, Jr.
This year marks fifty years since the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. We invite papers that examine the radical legacy of King, his significance to Black theology and the contemporary relevance of the Poor People’s Campaign.

• Vincent Harding
We invite papers that examine and assess the legacy of the late Vincent Harding as a “spiritual intellectual” and early contributor to Black theology.

• Jews and Race
Conversations with theologies of color. Co-sponsorship with the Black Theology Unit and the Study of Judaism Unit.

• Additional Topics
We are also interested in papers that address current topics in Black theology including but not limited to the following: spirituality and justice, empire, radical democracy, cultural trauma and effects of the visual in social media, Black eschatology, Black aesthetics and affect, Black theological pedagogy.

Proposals have a much greater chance of acceptance if they make clear the central thesis and main line(s) of argument of the proposed paper.
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
ChairSteering Committee