PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Program Book (PDF)

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Exhibit Hall Listing and Map (PDF)

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Annual Meeting At-A-Glance (PDF)

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Religion in South Asia Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit’s mission is to provide a venue for new and important research in the many religious cultures, texts, and histories of South Asia. Within the area of South Asia, all world religions exist in unique forms, from religions that originated in India — such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Tantra, and tribal religions — to religions that have taken on longstanding and distinctive forms in South Asia — such as Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The focus of our work is thus on a geographical area, the religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions of that area, and changes that have occurred in those traditions over several millennia. Scholars of South Asia explore the distinctive manifestations of religious traditions in the subcontinent, their interactions, and their movements to and expressions in other parts of the world. This Unit encourages contextualizing religion within debates on a broad array of parallel and intersecting issues, such as (but not limited to) politics, secularism, literature, philology, globalization, modernity, colonialism and postcolonialism, history, society, media, popular culture, material and visual culture, and economics. Our scholarship often emphasizes sessions and papers that look at more than one tradition and thus frequently entail some degree of comparative approach. Our website is We also have a listserv, which is essential to the work of our Unit. Information on joining the listserv can be found on our website.

Call for Papers: 

The Steering Committee of the Religion in South Asia (RISA) Unit invites colleagues to submit proposals for the 2019 AAR Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. RISA’s mission is to provide a venue for new research on the many religious cultures, literatures, and histories of South Asia. We have a strong preference for sessions in which the papers cover a range of South Asian traditions, regions, and languages. Some themes already identified as potential papers sessions are listed below — please contact the associated colleagues for details about potential collaboration. Panels and papers are also encouraged that respond to the 2019 AAR Presidential Theme: “Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces: A Necessary Long Term Focus in the Study of Religions.”

The RISA steering committee accepts panel submissions only, with the exception of the New Directions panel (below). For the 2019 Annual Meeting, RISA has a flexible allotment of panel formats: either one 2.5-hour session, one 2-hour session, and five 90-minute sessions; OR two 2.5-hour sessions, one 2-hour session, and three 90-minute sessions. RISA can also sponsor one additional paper session if it is co-sponsored with another Unit.

In your proposal, please specify your preferred panel format (150, 120, or 90 minutes). Generally, 150-minute panels consist of 6 participants (4 paper presenters, a discussant or respondent, and a presider), and 90-minute panels consist of 4 or 5 participants (3 paper presenters, a presider, and perhaps a respondent). However, creative formats are encouraged, such as roundtables, paired papers with no respondent, pre-circulated papers, and so on. If relevant, list any potential co-sponsoring Unit with your proposal. All Papers Session Panel Proposals must be submitted through the PAPERS system on the AAR website.

● New Directions Panel 2019 -
The RISA Steering Committee accepts individual paper submissions in one category, to provide space for new scholarship in our field. To be eligible, applicants must (1) be ABD doctoral students (or recent graduates) focusing on religion in South Asia from any disciplinary perspective, and (2) never have presented at the national AAR meeting. Accepted panelists will be mentored by a senior colleague with appropriately specialized expertise. To apply, email your proposal (and any other queries) to Elaine Fisher, convenor of the panel for 2019 (, AND upload your individual paper proposal in the AAR’s PAPERS system, labelled as a "New Directions” submission.

If you are looking for collaborators towards proposing a panel session, please feel free to reach out to colleagues on the RISA listserv, or to contact the RISA co-chairs for assistance (Hamsa Stainton,; Sarah Pierce Taylor (

Prospective panel themes for 2019:

● Digital Media and the Making of Digital Publics in South Asia
Dheepa Sundaram (

● Magic in South Asia: Definitions and Case Studies
Aaron Ullrey (

● Perceptions of Religious Authority
David St. John (

● Pluralism within South Asian Muslim Communities
Jaclyn Michael (

● Race and Gender in the Study of South Asia
Anand Venkatkrishnan (

● Recitation Practices in South Asia
Caley Smith (

● Religious Didacticism in South Asia
Iva Patel (

Sex and Light in South Asia (Co-sponsored with Islamic Mysticism Unit)
Catt Prueitt (

● Social Justice and Identity in South Asian Religions
Smita Kothari ( and Krishni Metivier (

● South Asian Religious Minorities in Cinema, Literature, and the Visual Arts
Jaclyn Michael (

● Śrīvidyā: Past and Present
Anna A. (Anya) Golovkova (

● Sufism in Premodern South Asia
Ryan Brizendine (

● Textual Processes in the Institutionalization of South Asian Religions
Avni Chag (

● Theorizing Living Praxis: Embodiment and Technique in South Asian Religions
Krishni Metivier (

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
ChairSteering Committee