PAPERS Resources

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

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Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of religiously motivated violence have all too often become part of our quotidian existence. Scholars from various disciplines have attempted to account for these incidents, noting such issues as a resurgence of anti-colonialism, poverty and economic injustice, the failures of secular nationalism, uprooted-ness, and the loss of a homeland, and the pervasive features of globalization in its economic, political, social, and cultural forms. What are the religious narratives that help animate these violent actors? This Unit contends that the theories, methodologies, and frameworks for studying the expanding field of religion and violence remain under-explored and require interdisciplinary work and collaboration to provide greater insights into the complex issues involved. The sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, economics, and political science of religion all have provided great insights into the nature of religion and violence over the last few decades and all are arguably interdisciplinary by nature. This Unit provides a venue devoted specifically to interdisciplinary discussions of the subject. We hope to channel and enhance contributions from the historically delineated (albeit constructed) humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. In that vein, we hope to hear papers presenting cross-disciplinary dialogue and research on the topic of religion and violence.

Call for Papers: 

We seek papers that examine the intersections of religion and violence, with attention to the conditions under which religion lends itself to the justification and/or promotion of violence. Papers should demonstrate comparative or theoretical approaches. Below are our 2018 recommended themes within this framework:

• Gender, Religion, and Violence
We seek papers that address topics such as genocidal violence and the construction of masculinities, rape, and sexual violence as tools in conflicts and genocide, religiously inflected and symbolic sexual violence, and the targeting and persecution of gender and sexual minorities. Co-sponsorship with the Comparative Approaches to Religion Unit, the Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit, the Women and Religion Unit, and the Men, Masculinities and Religion Unit.

• Buddhist-Muslim Conflicts
Examinations into conflicts between Buddhists and Muslims in both the contemporary period (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand), as well as in earlier periods. Possible co-sponsorship with the Buddhism Unit.
For people interested in submitting on this theme, please contact Michael Jerryson (

• White Supremacy, the Alt-Right, and Religion
In the wake of the Charlottesville protests and the rise of Neo-Nazi rhetoric, we seek papers that explore religious influences in the supremacist Alt-Right movement, its historical antecedents, and political theological approaches to such race/religion categories.

• Religious Violence, Trauma, and Humanity’s Search for Security
Theological ideas, rhetoric, and symbolism are frequently harnessed to justify violent efforts to secure human life and/or to secure a particular group of humans’ desired lifestyle(s). Religious violence can likewise erupt as both a cause and a consequence of the traumas – including, but not limited to, emotional violations, socio-cultural oppressions, and political injuries (both real and imagined) which are experienced by individuals, groups, and even entire societies. Yet experts in trauma studies and security studies rarely convene to discuss the impact of religion on their respective fields together. This panel aims to inspire such a discussion, and is particularly interested in the ways that the categories of “trauma” and “security” are complicated, interrogated, and challenged by the complexities of religious violence. Proposals may discuss historical as well as contemporary concerns, and may be constructed from the perspective of either trauma studies or security studies, or both fields collectively. Broad and creative thinking about the multivalent meanings and representations of “trauma,” “security,” and “religious violence” – as both concrete and existential phenomena – is encouraged and solicited. Co-sponsorship with the SBL’s Violence and Representations of Violence in Late Antiquity Unit and the Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit. Interested members from both AAR and SBL should contact Chase L. Way at

• Religion and the Convention on Genocide
As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, we welcome papers that critically reflect on the legacy of the Convention and its relationship to religion as well as future directions for study. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the political uses of the Convention by religious groups, debates about the efficacy of the Convention to protect religious groups, the current status of religion as a "stable identity" amid other Convention protected groups, the contributions of religious studies to the reconceptualization of "genocide," and comparative approaches to the involvement and reaction of religious actors who have been indicted or convicted under the Convention. Co-sponsorship with the Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit and the Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit.

• Exploring Moral Injury in Sacred Texts
We plan to convene a pre-arranged roundtable, co-sponsored with the Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit and the Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Unit, on Joseph McDonald ed., Exploring Moral Injury in Sacred Texts (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017).

E-mail with Attachment (proposal is in attachment, not in body of e-mail)
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
We keep the names anonymous to chairs and the steering committee members during review. However, once we decide on the submissions, we had to change the settings to make visible the author's names and email addresses (for facilitation purposes, such as requesting a panel to take on additional papers or to give feedback to an individual whose submission was rejected).
ChairSteering Committee