PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Class, Religion, and Theology Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit seeks to study class as a relational concept that needs to be explored in its complex manifestations, which will yield more complex understandings of religion and theology in turn. Avoiding reductionist definitions that occur when studying each class in itself or viewing class only according to stratified income levels or particular historical and sociological markers, this Unit will investigate how classes shape up in relation and tension with each other and with religion and theology. This Unit’s investigations of class, religion, and theology also include intersections with gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and ecology.

Call for Papers: 

The Class, Religion, and Theology Unit invites paper proposals on any of the following topics, including three co-sponsored sessions:

● For a possible co-sponsored session including multiple Units and in solidarity with the Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Working Group, we solicit papers on religion and reproductive labor, care work, and/or affective/emotional labor (in the broadest senses of each of these). One way to conceptualize these generically is as physical and/or interactive labor, whether paid or unpaid, that keeps bodies and communities alive from one day, and one generation, to the next. Proposals could address, for example, a particular religious practice interpreted as a form of this kind of labor (or vice-versa), religious meanings of this kind of labor, the role of family, kinship, and community in structuring working relationships, or other relevant topics. We are particularly interested in how white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, disability oppression, and other apparatuses of inequality impose disparate burdens on intersectionally targeted bodies — e.g., women of color, lesbian-feminists, immigrants, continent faculty members, people with disabilities — who are involved with this kind of labor. The session will be co-sponsored by these Units: Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Working Group; Women and Religion; Queer Studies in Religion; Religion, Affect, and Emotion; Religion and Sexuality; Religion and Disability Studies; Lesbian Feminisms and Religion; Feminist Theory and Religious Reflection; and Class, Religion, and Theology.

● For a co-sponsored session with the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society group and SBL's Gender, Sexuality, and the Bible group, we solicit papers exploring Womanist interpretation of women in the Bible and the roles of reproductive labor/care work/emotional labor, in concert with the discussion of two works: Tamura Lomax's Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture; and Monique Moultrie's Passionate and Pious: Religious Media and Black Women's Sexuality. We especially invite papers that use the lens of reproductive labor/care work/emotional labor, which can be defined as physical, mental, emotional, and/or interactive labor that keeps bodies and whole communities alive from one day, and one generation, to the next. Black women, in the US and around the world, have historically and in the present day borne the brunt of exploitation in these forms of labor, yet at the same time, they have also been sites for generative community-building and empowerment within Black communities. In addition, these forms of labor have been an important theme in Womanist biblical interpretation, which helps us see the function of oppression in biblical texts that often gets played out in church and society.

● For a possible tri-sponsored session between the Religion and Food Unit, the Class, Religion, and Theology Unit, and the Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society Unit, we solicit papers that analyze religion, social class, and the food-chain. Paper topics may include food-chain labor; food ecologies; theological meanings of food labor; food injustice; Latinx food culture/religiosity; the ghettoization, ethnicization, and/or genderization of food labor spaces; and other relevant topics

● Connections and contradictions between whiteness and class identity, particularly the ways whiteness is a stumbling block to class solidarity.

● Intersections of religion, class/labor, and environmental and climate (in)justice.

● Can Religion Save the World? Beyond Capitalism, Consumerism, and Systems of Exploitation Toward Ecological Civilization -
What role can religious and theological studies play in responding to the most important issues of our times? Can religions help cultivate the consciousness needed to avert catastrophe? How might theology contribute to the development of integrated approaches to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protect nature? In light of the 2019 AAR theme, “Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces: A Necessary Long-Term Focus in the Study of Religions,” this session will be an intersectional, interdisciplinary, interreligious exploration on religious responses to our world’s most pressing issues. This is a quad-sponsored session with the Open & Relational Theologies Unit, the Religion and Economy Unit, the Religion and Ecology Unit, and the Class, Religion, and Theology Unit.

● We invite papers that explore the nexus of religion and migrant work and/or colonial labor. Focus will be on how central a role work/labor plays both as a driver of migration and as a core apparatus of colonial exploitation. Co-sponsored with the Religion and Migration Unit.

● Open Call: Papers that thematize issues of class and/or labor in the study of religion. Descriptive/empirical and normative/constructive methods are both welcome.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Comments: 
The visibility to chairs makes it possible to ensure diversity among the presenters. Chairs can make adjustments while still accounting for feedback from the steering committee.
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee