PAPERS Resources

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

To return to the Welcome Page, please click here.

For questions or support, email support@aarweb.org.

To return to the AAR website, click here.

Religion and US Empire Seminar

Statement of Purpose: 

The seminar, which will be in its fifth year, 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 encourages 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.

Call for Papers: 

The AAR Seminar on Religion and U.S. Empire invites panel or individual paper proposals for a session on one of three themes:

1) “Religion and the Financing of U.S. Empire.” Proposals may interpret and organize this theme in a variety of ways. Possibilities include: How have religious groups helped to fund American expansion? What resources have they brought to bear at different times and places in the history of American imperialism? This theme aims to bring together the study of U.S. Empire with histories of religion and capitalism, the exploitation of natural resources (land, water, fossil fuels) within and beyond the United States, and the “business turn” in American religion.

2) “Religion and U.S. Empire in Comparative Perspective.” Proposals may interpret and organize this theme in a variety of ways. Possibilities include considering how and why apologists for U.S. Empire have insisted that American expansionism is or has been fundamentally different from European imperialism. What is at stake in asserting American distinctiveness? This theme aims to critically engage with narratives of American exceptionalism through comparative analysis focusing on the role of religion in the production, extension, defense and/or critique of U.S. and other empires.

3) “Religion and the Collapse of Empire.” Proposals may interpret and organize this theme in a variety of ways. Possibilities include: Is U.S. empire in a state of decline? How do narratives of declension operate within the realm of American religion? What political, cultural, and/or spiritual work do such accounts accomplish? How can scholars of religion engage with contemporary jeremiads about the end of American empire?

The seminar, which will be in its fifth year, 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 encourages 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.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee