PAPERS Resources

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

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Preliminary Program Book (PDF)

Preliminary Program Book (MS Word)

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Mysticism Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit began as a Consultation within the AAR in 1987 and achieved formal Unit status in 1989. While its early focus was primarily Christianity and Western religions — and the study of experience and textual interpretation within those areas — the Unit has grown and changed over time, paralleling the change and growth in the AAR itself. Today, our conversations cut across boundaries that characterize many of the Program Units within the AAR — boundaries of discipline, tradition, temporality, and region. Members of our Unit use different methodologies and work across a variety of disciplines, among which are the psychology of religion, sociology of religion, history of religions, hermeneutics and textual analysis, biographical analysis, feminist studies, film studies, philosophy of religion, mysticism and science, art criticism, postmodern theory, cultural studies, and anthropology of consciousness, among others. This interdisciplinarity has importance not only to our work as scholars, but also to our work as teachers and public educators. We post our current call, past sessions, a selection of past papers, as well as links in the field of mysticism to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/aarmysticism/.

Call for Papers: 

Entheogens -
This session is concerned with the role entheogens play in the religious/mystical traditions of a variety of indigenous contexts. Equally important as examining entheogens in their native contexts, however, is addressing their adoption by non-native populations including problems concerning their commodification and appropriation as well as legal issues. For possible co-sponsorship with the Indigenous Religions Unit and/or Native Traditions in the Americas Unit.

Mystical Sickness & Trauma -
We seek papers or panels that explore the multiple intersections between mysticism, sickness, and trauma. These can include articulations of sickness as part of the mystical path within specific traditions, understandings of trauma as a gateway to mystical states, and the utilization of mysticism as a way to heal sickness and trauma. For possible co-sponsorship with the Religion & Medicine Unit.

Cognitive Science of Mysticism -
Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) is a relatively new and burgeoning area of research in religious studies, while mysticism is perhaps one of its oldest subfields. What can these areas of research contribute to each other? CSR offers not only the possibility of novel approaches to a long-standing topic in the field, but has also produced theories of religion that may be germane to the study of mysticism. Alternatively, mysticism might suggest new avenues of research for scholars working in CSR. This session proposes a conversation between these domains, and welcomes proposals on areas of potential convergence and collaboration. For possible co-sponsorship with the Cognitive Science of Religion Unit.

What Is the “Spiritual” in Art-Making? What is the "Mystical" in Art-Making? Contact person: Jeff Brackett jmbrackett@bsu.edu (potential co-sponsorship with the Arts, Literature, and Religion Unit) -
This panel welcomes papers on the question of how and why artists and art professionals deploy the hotly contested term “spiritual” when referring to visual artists, their artmaking, and art. What is the "mystical?" How has the "mystical" been experienced, enacted or expressed in artistic forms? How do the spiritual and the mystical interact with one another?

● De-Centering Whiteness in the Study and Practice of Mysticism -
This panel seeks to interrogate the ways in which whiteness has largely dominated the academic study of mysticism, both in terms of authoritative voices on what does and does not count as "mysticism," and on what research populations are afforded the most attention.

Jewish Mysticism -
Mysticism has always been a somewhat controversial topic within the tradition of Judaism. From the inside, Kabbalists and other Jewish mystics have pushed the boundaries of the tradition in provocative ways, and from the outside scholars have debated whether the category of mysticism applies at all, and (if so) what types of mystical experiences may be found within Judaism. This panel welcomes proposals on the intersections of mysticism and Judaism, exploring the sometimes tense relationship between the analytical category and the varied traditions of the religion. Co-sponsored by the Study of Judaism Unit.

Method: 
PAPERS
Other: 
We do NOT accept proposals by email.
Process: 
Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
Comments: 
We actually insist on anonymity and we do not accept email submissions for that reason.
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee