PAPERS Resources

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

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Ecclesial Practices Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

Ecclesial Practices provides a collaborative space at the intersection of ethnographic and other qualitative approaches and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial practices. This might include churches, other (new, emerging, para-church, and virtual) communities, and lived faith in daily life. International in scope, the unit encourages research contributing to a deeper understanding of “church in practice” in a global context, including decolonization and postcolonial theologies. The unit encourages ongoing research in the following areas:

• Empirical and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial communities (churches, congregations, and emerging communities), especially as interdisciplinary efforts to understand lived faith and practice extending from them
• Studies of specific ecclesial activities, e.g. music, liturgy, arts, social justice, youth work, preaching, pastoral care, rites of passage, community organizing
• Studies of global contexts of lived faith in relation to ecclesial communities, for example, decolonizing and postcolonial theory and theology
• Discussions of congregational growth and decline, new church movements, and ecclesial experiments connected to shared practices in a worldly church
• Explorations of Christian doctrine in relation to the potential implications of empirical and qualitative research on ecclesial communities and lived faith for discerning, defining, and challenging standard theological genres such as systematics and doctrine, as well as inviting new ways to understand normative logics
• Discussions of methodological issues with regard to qualitative research on theological topics, especially related to ecclesial communities and lived faith
• Discussions (both substantive and methodological) of the implications of new technologies and digital cultures for ecclesial communities and lived faith

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers addressing intersectionality in the ethnographic study of ecclesial practices and/or the ethnographic theological interpretation of practice. Intersectionality theory analyzes how social identities are situated within dynamic matrices of oppression and privilege, constituted by ideological, economic, and political systems of power. Papers may reflect research employing intersectional analytic frameworks methodologically and/or research that deploys intersectionality theory interpretively, particularly to address categories such as power, race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, or physical ability in relation to the field of study. We welcome papers addressing how intersectionality provides both the analytic tools for understanding contexts of Christian practices (such as worship, preaching, justice, congregational care, mission, etc.) and the ethical commitments toward which such practice might be aimed. We are also interested in how theological inquiry may enrich, challenge, or even controvert the prevailing conventions of intersectional theory. Nancy Ramsay will offer a response to the panel of papers.

● Building on the AAR’s theme focused on “creating, redefining, and expanding spheres of public discourse," we invite papers on San Diego’s Chicano Park and its mural paintings. This multi-unit co-sponsored session will likely be supplemented by a separate tour to the site. In 1970 Chicano Park emerged through the efforts of community activists responding to the fracture and displacement of Chicanx communities caused by the construction of the Interstate 5 freeway in the barrio of Logan Heights. On this freeway’s pillars, Chicano Park displays one of the largest assemblages of public murals in North America, inspired by Chicanx history. In 2018, the San Diego Tribune described the space as a “battleground” for cultural identity between right wing groups waving American flags and Chicanx groups waving flags of Aztlan. We welcome papers from multiple disciplinary vantage points. We are particularly interested in proposals that take an ecological approach by engaging both the manner in which the contested space informs religious/spiritual identities and practices and the manner in which Chicanx spiritualities have influenced this built environment. Likely co-sponsors include the following Units: Religion and Cities; Religions in the Latin Americas; Native Traditions in the Americas; Latina/o Religion, Culture and Society; Anthropology of Religion; Religion, Memory, History; Ecclesial Practices; and Latina/o and Latin American Biblical Interpretation (SBL).

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee