AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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This Unit sponsors multidisciplinary conversations that explore intersections between religious and economic modes of social life. Building upon and extending scholarship that considers how economic terms and constraints orient religious activity, this Unit cultivates scholarship that asks how economic systems and orientations have developed through fields of thought, practice, and resistance that come into view through attention to the "religious." Encouraging conversations that traverse religious traditions, geographic locations, methodologies, and historical time periods, this Unit's collaborative explorations not only address and explore capitalist and non-capitalist economic systems but also consider how broader systems of "exchange" produce social relations among varied actors--from humans to spirits to material objects. By interrogating religion and economy, this Unit also encourages scholars to consider the stakes of other concepts with ongoing currency in the study of religion, including secularism, postsecularism, spirituality, affect, networks, ritual, agency, and subject formation.
The Religion and Economy unit provides a multidisciplinary forum for exploring intersections between religious and economic modes of social life. In addition to cultivating conversations that consider how religious ideas, practices, and sensibilities have underwritten economic institutions, systems, and orientations around the world, the unit also encourages scholarship that examines how economic activity produces social relations and subjectivities that fall both within and outside of conventional conceptions of what the study of religion has comprised. Drawing upon the conceptual and analytical tools that the study of religion offers, the group's papers and panels illuminate the character, contradictions, power, and ubiquity of systems of economy and exchange—both in the present and past.
For the 2017 Annual Meeting, the Religion and Economy unit welcomes any paper or panel proposals related to the group's mission, including but not limited to the following themes, which reflect possibilities proposed at the 2016 business meeting in San Antonio:
• The concept of value, broadly speaking. Papers might consider the relationship between value and moral "values," for example, and the exchanges that reproduce those relationships.
• Charity and the complex intermingling of business, government, non-profit, tax-exempt, and religious organizations.
• Classical theorists and theories of political economy and capitalism, including such figures as Marx, Smith, Ricardo, Bentham, Malthus, Schumpeter and Veblan and/or intersecting interpretive tropes of religious and economic histories in “neo/classical” discourses (e.g., contract theory and covenantal relations, equilibrium and extremism, or business cycles and apocalypticism, etc).
• The relationship between religion and economy under economic systems other than capitalism—including, but not limited to socialism, imperialism, and feudalism.
• Contemporary economic and religious concepts (e.g., late twentieth and early twenty-first century)—such as neoliberalism, "voodoo economics," “”disruptive innovation”, the brand form, “servant leadership”, “natural Capitalism”, immaterial labor, and the prosperity gospel. Papers might consider how these concepts can or should be rethought in light of recent political and economic developments, including the proliferation of nativist policies and figures around the world.
In addition, we welcome proposals for possible co-sponsored panels:
• The relationship between slavery, religion, and the economic. Papers might examine, for example, theological arguments surrounding slavery (both for and against), or for political and economic policies related to colonialism, mercantilism, and capitalism. (Co-sponsored with the Afro-American Religious History unit).
• Recognizing the anniversary of key works in critical theory, papers that explore the boundaries of the disciplinary significance and current utility of: Deleuze & Guattari’s Capitalism & Schizophrenia (40th and 30th anniversaries of English translations); or, Horkheimer & Adorno’s Dialectics of Enlightenment (70th anniversary). What have been the effects of these texts on the study of religion, and how can they help us to understand the place of religion in a period of capitalist expansion, inequality, and critique? (Co-sponsored with the Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion unit)