AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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The Quaker Studies Unit seeks to advance critical scholarship of Quakerism and sub-fields that interact with Quaker history, practice and thought. This Unit is particularly focused on interdisciplinary analyses of Quakerism in its global contexts and the breadth of its theological diversity. Quaker Studies includes the variety of religious traditions that derive from the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as well as the spiritual and social movements and practices that claim Quaker influence.
• Race, Gender, Class: Quakers in the Public Sphere
Over some 350 years of religious history, Quakers have often maintained a dissenting/nonconformist self-understanding and have, at times, taken well-publicized positions against dominant cultural mores. Thus, they offer a fascinating case study of religiously motivated resistance to established norms and power structure—the prophetic function of religion in the public sphere. They also offer a case study of the loss of the prophetic function as they amassed wealth and became more protective of the status quo.
We invite proposals for papers that explore the ethics, "testimonies," and practices of Quakers and Quaker-inspired groups, either across history or in the present. Quaker models of engagement with society, politics, and dominant mores are especially invited. We are particularly interested in studies that address the negotiation of race, gender, and class within these models - both internal to Quaker communities and externally in their interaction with other religions and structures of power.
• In a co-sponsored session with the African Association for the Study of Religions, the Quaker Studies Unit invites papers that explore Quakerism, Quaker identity formation, and Quaker spiritualities in central and eastern Africa using postcolonial perspectives.
Because there are more Quakers in Kenya than in any other country, the Quaker experience in Africa is significant. Despite this significance, the impact of Quakerism in Kenya and other central and eastern Africa nations remains underrepresented in Quaker studies. In this interdisciplinary session we will begin to redress this imbalance through papers that focus on central and eastern Africa nations, especially Kenya. This session seeks papers that examine any of the following themes: 1) the impact of Quakerism on the self-understanding of African Quakers; 2) Quaker strategies of enculturation and de-colonization among African Quakers; and 3) contemporary social and theological tensions experienced between African Quakers and Western Quakers, using Quakerism as a specific case study as to how Western religious traditions are maintained and expressed.