AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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This seminar supports a critical examination of the complex relationship between religion and US empire from the formal inception of the US as a nation-state to the present. The seminar will encourage attention to fundamental theoretical issues relating to religion and US expansionism, including but not limited to the following: the co-constitution of race, religion, and nation; the political and institutional mechanics of empire; the role of civic, ethnic, and religious nationalisms in supporting and critiquing empire; the value of transnational and national approaches to understanding US religious history; and the implications of reconceiving the standard periodization of US history to depart from standard state-building categories. The specific research projects of the collaborators attend to such issues as militarism and the materiality of religion and empire; the influence of empire on rituals, practices, and beliefs of US public religion; and the linkages between colonial administrators, missionaries, and the scientific study of religion.
The AAR Seminar on Religion and U.S. Empire, which will be in its fourth year, invites individual paper proposals for a session on “Experiences of US Empire and the Making of Religions.” This panel aims to build on recent studies that explore how categories of “religion” and “religions” were not only imposed on colonized peoples through unilateral imperial processes, but also invented, renegotiated, and contested through reciprocal (if asymmetrical) exchanges in diverse settings and contingent circumstances. How might studying the reception of U.S. empire reveal ways in which colonized populations and all those affected by American expansion participated actively (albeit unequally) in the production of “religion” in response to, reaction against, and resistance to American imperialism?
Papers will be pre-circulated to encourage discussion and debate; however, we welcome all interested participants to the session even when advance reading of the materials is not possible. Panelists will provide a brief overview of their work at the beginning of the session.