PAPERS Resources

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

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Program Book (PDF)

Preliminary Program Book (MS Word)

Floorplans of Annual Meeting Facilities (PDF)

Exhibit Hall Listing and Map (PDF)

Program Book Ads (PDF)

Annual Meeting At-A-Glance (PDF)

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Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The study of religions, medicines, and healing is a growing field within religious studies that draws on the disciplines and scholarship of history, anthropology (particularly medical anthropology), phenomenology, psychology, sociology, ethnic studies, ritual studies, gender studies, theology, political and economic theory, public health, bioscientific epidemiology, history of science, comparative religion, and other interdisciplinary approaches to interpret meanings assigned to illness, affliction, and suffering; healing, health, and well-being; healing systems and traditions, their interactions, and the factors that influence them; and related topics and issues. As a broad area of inquiry, this field incorporates diverse theoretical orientations and methodological strategies in order to develop theories and methods specific to the study of illness, health, healing, and associated social relations from religious studies perspectives. Although religious texts serve as important resources in this endeavor, so do the many approaches to the study of lived religion, religious embodiment and material culture, and popular expressions of religiosity. Finally, like its sister field of medical anthropology, the field of religions, medicines, and healing encourages examination of how affliction and healing affect social bodies through fractured identities, political divides, structural violence, and colonialism. We support the work of graduate students, religion scholars, scholar-activists, and scholars in allied fields. We promote collaboration with other interdisciplinary Program Units and those focused on particular traditions and/or regions.

Call for Papers: 

The Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit welcomes paper and/or panel proposals that explore specific intersections of religious and healing traditions and practices. Proposals should address the socio-political context of the topic, as well as theoretical and analytical framework(s), such as: How this analysis helps us to understand religions and “healing” in new ways. For 2019, we are particularly interested in the following:

● Graduate Students Award Session -
Beginning in the fall of 2019, the RMH Unit will award a prize for the Best Graduate Student Paper. Graduate students are the future of our profession and contribute substantially to the success of the Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit by delivering papers based on original research. Through the RMH Graduate Student Paper Award, we recognize this contribution and encourage outstanding research by students. Papers will be evaluated for their originality, appropriate use of sources, and the quality of writing. Winners of the prize will be honored at the RMH Business Meeting, at the conference at which they present the paper.

Eligible students must 1) be actively enrolled in a doctoral program in any discipline related to Religions, Medicines, and Healing, 2) have had a paper accepted by the RMH Steering Committee for presentation at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the AAR and 3) have indicated when submitting their proposal that they are applying for the award.
To qualify, the full written paper, along with any related images, must be submitted by email and in its entirety no later than October 1, 2019. Applicants should send their paper to the RMH Graduate Student Paper Award Committee (co-chairs Linda Barnes,, and Emily Wu, along with a) a scan of your student card or official letter from your institution; b) the name of your degree program; and c) a personal letter verifying that the work is your own.

Joint Call with Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Unit -
a) Decolonization of/as healing" or a critical race approach to chaplaincy; b) taking chaplaincy into secular spaces; c) case studies of inter-religious chaplaincy.

● Healing Spaces and Healing of the Dead

Joint Call with Mysticism Unit -
Papers or panels that explore the multiple intersections between mysticism, sickness, and trauma. These can include articulations of sickness as part of the mystical path within specific traditions, understandings of trauma as a gateway to mystical states and the utilization of mysticism as a way to heal sickness and trauma.

Material Cultural and Textual Representation of the Silk Road -
Papers might explore religious art, texts, or other objects of material culture that come to Europe and the Mediterranean from geographic regions along the so-called Silk Road. We are also interested in representations of the route, the experience, history or expectations of traveling or living on the route. Proposals that engage with theory relating to religious experience, community, pilgrimage, economic exchange or religio-cultural interchange are particularly welcome. This is a co-sponsored session with the Religion in Premodern Europe and the Mediterranean Unit.

Joint Call with the Premodern Europe and the Mediterranean Unit -
Religion, medicine, and healing practices in premodern Europe and the Mediterranean. Papers might explore such topics as miraculous healings and healing miracles; interpretations or adaptations of scriptural healing narratives; religiously inflected healing magic, charms, or talismans; or religiously specific approaches to medical training, practices, and/or licensure.

Pre-Conference Workshop:

● Skills Development for Public-Facing Scholarship
Documentary-making, digital storytelling, etc as media of documentation and knowledge production.

● Developing criteria and rubrics for assessment of knowledge produced in other forms, that can later be recommended for use in publishing, pedagogy, and tenure promotions

The Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit is committed to the value of diversity, equity, and social justice in our standards of excellence.

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members until after final acceptance/rejection
ChairSteering Committee