PAPERS Resources

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

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Psychology, Culture, and Religion Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The PCR unit is comprised of scholars and practitioners in the fields of psychology, religious studies, and cultural analysis. The interests of our members range from Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis to the practice of pastoral counseling, from object relations theory to cultural studies of trauma and healing. Our primary purposes are to foster creative research, encourage the exchange of ideas among the membership, and provide a forum within the AAR for people with shared backgrounds in the interdisciplinary study of psychology, religion, and culture. Please visit our Website at and join the PCR listserv at

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers on the following topics:

• Recent Neuroscientific Approaches to Psychology and Religion(s): Gains and Losses?
In the broad field of psychology, neuroscience has increasingly influenced the understanding of religious development, spiritual experience, meaning-making, vocation, healing, etc. What has been gained by the recent focus on brain science in the study of psychology and religion? What has been lost? We especially seek proposals that 1) focus on a concrete area of research or practice and 2) take into account the cultural and historical context in which twenty-first-century neuroscience has arisen.

• #MeToo: Sexual Trauma and Sexual Shaming in the Era of #45
Though Tarana Burke, creator of #metoo, designed the campaign in 2007 to promote solidarity between women of color survivors, the popularization of #metoo a decade later eclipses Burke's early efforts making the face of the movement against sexual trauma: white women. When Time magazine raised #metoo as the 2017 theme and named "The Silence Breakers" person of the year, the omission of Tarana Burke from the cover exposes how media often re-traumatizes and renders particular survivors invisible. The well-publicized sexual misconduct assaults pervasive in church institutions and faith communities where authorities move pastoral pedophiles from congregation to congregation, and the #metoo campaign has exposed men in the worlds of film and TV, sports, food, news media and publishing, academia, technology, and politics, including the current sitting U.S. President. This session invites papers that address sexual trauma and sexual shaming, including the way society weights trauma and race, and the need for therapy and pastoral care: the culture of violence disproportionately targets girls and women of color. Questions of identity, methodology, and ethics using psychological, theological, and religious perspectives animate these discussions in both activist and academic circles. For co-sponsorship with the Psychology, Culture, and Religion Unit and the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit.

• Hooked: Contemporary Study, Treatment and Religious Responses to Addiction
PCR invites proposals that engage psychology and religion in relation to the current drug crisis in North America, including such topics as; the political/cultural shift from criminalization to medicalization of addiction; the connections among drug policy, racism, gender, and mass incarceration; changes in religious, theological, and psychological discourse about addiction and substance abuse; new psychospiritual treatments.

• On Death and Dying: Kübler-Ross 50th Anniversary
For 2018, we invite submissions for the 50th anniversary of the publication of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ seminal study, On Death and Dying, for a co-sponsored session with the Death, Dying, and Beyond Unit and the Psychology, Culture and Religion Unit. Submissions are welcome that engage the memory, theory, and legacy of her work on assisted dying, and hospice/palliative care.

• What is Innateness? Evolution and Development in the Cognitive Science and Psychology of Religion
What does it mean for a cognitive process or capability to be innate? Does this category only refer to fully realized functions at birth? in the first week? in the first month? How should theories about innateness address connections between innate and acquired capacities, and what are the implications for our understanding of the psychology and cognitive science of religion? Recent evidence from developmental cognitive psychology has upended our thinking about innateness. For example, the first longitudinal study of neonatal imitation, published in 2016, showed no evidence to support previous claims by Meltzoff and others. Yet human infants learn to imitate and both nonhuman primates and humans learn to acquire certain, socially relevant capabilities early in life. Are there ways to conceptualize innateness that help us make sense of what may be an innate readiness to acquire such capabilities? For example, does the innateness theory of Gary Marcus sufficiently address both the evolutionary and developmental aspects of acquiring language, morality, religious behaviors and affiliations, etc.? We are especially interested in integrative theoretical or empirical papers that address Marcus' theory and/or new approaches that draw on the evolutionary and developmental interaction literature in psychology and cognitive science (i.e., EvoDevo theories), with a clear connection to how these approaches help or hinder understanding of the origin, transmission, and practice of religion. This is a co-sponsored session with the Cognitive Science of Religion Unit and the Psychology, Culture, and Religion Unit. Contact: Michael Spezio, Scripps College,

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
Throughout the review process we keep all submissions blind to all reviewers and chairs. Only when the reviews are in do the chairs begin to reveal names and institutions. As I recall, we had to re-set the controls in one of the co-sponsored calls this year, but it was quickly managed.
ChairSteering Committee