AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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This Unit supports and encourages research on all aspects of the study of New Religious Movements. Presenters in our sessions study marginal, minority, new, and alternative religions, past and present, from a variety of methodological and disciplinary perspectives. Our sessions and additional meetings are intended to create opportunities for dialogue among academics who share a passion for understanding NRMs, and to make known to a broader audience the importance of such movements for understanding issues of religious difference, community building and maintenance, ritual and doctrinal innovation, and other aspects of religious life.
We, the Steering Committee of the New Religious Movements Program Unit, affirm our solidarity with the Muslim scholars of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature, with Muslim Americans, and with those seeking refuge and asylum in the United States.
As scholars of minority, alternative, and new religions, we are deeply aware of the challenges facing those on America’s religious margins. We know the immense human toll such intolerance causes. Our scholarship also demonstrates the violence and tragedy than can result when federal and state agencies fail to recognize the humanity of marginalized religious groups.
We condemn in the strongest terms Mr. Trump's executive order purporting to “protect the American People from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals.”
We reject the premise that punitive exclusions of any religious group based on the actions of extremist members make any American safer or freer. We affirm the commitments of our country’s first president, who saw in our nation the promise of a government “which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
Cognizant of increased travel and personal safety concerns, we are further committed to offering scholars video conferencing options as an alternative means of participation on all New Religious Movements panels at the American Academy of Religion’s 2017 national meeting and in the future, should similar needs arise.
We are resolved to make space for difference both within the academy and beyond.
The New Religious Movements Unit welcomes all papers that address research pertinent to the study of emergent, “alternative,” or minority religions. In particular, we encourage submissions on the topics of:
• Atheisms and blasphemies
• Political religions
• Violence and extremism
• Metaphysical religions, particularly but not exclusively those of New England origin
• Futures and Frontiers of Religion (for a possible co-sponsored session with Religion in the American West Unit): What role do violence, exclusion, and/or extremism play in the building of—or failure to build—utopia(s)?
We are especially interested in papers that forefront concerns of race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability within these topics.