PAPERS Resources

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

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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 papers 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 2018, we are particularly interested in the following themes:

• Decolonization as Healing
With a wide range of other units, we plan to co-sponsor a session on the theme of decolonization as healing, recognizing that colonization in Africa and in other parts of our world has resulted in both historical and ongoing threats to health and wellbeing. We are looking for papers that address facets of this theme, including but not limited to: “Place, Land, and Environmental Degradation,” “Decolonization/Restoration of Identities,” “Vocabularies and Pragmatic Applications of Rituals and Ceremonies,” "Reclaiming the Past, Imagining the Future," and “Tradition as Healer”. Co-sponsored with the Religions, Medicines and Healing; African Diaspora Religions, African Religions; Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society; Body and Religion; Indigenous Religious Traditions; Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society; Native Traditions in the Americas; Religions in the Latina/o Americas; Religion in South Asia, Religion in Southeast Asia; and Religion, Colonialism and Postcolonialism; and World Christianity Units. Successful proposals will clearly identify where the project fits within the Call for Papers, and will speak to its broader implications for African American religious history.
This session is a panel. Please submit a proposal for a paper or presentation. If your proposal is chosen, your paper will be circulated ahead of the conference and you’ll be asked to give a brief (5-7 minute) summary of the paper during the conference session.

• Pedagogy in Teaching Religions, Medicines, and Healing
We invite presentations that draw on pedagogical, programmatic, curricular, and administrative experiences, to address such topics as: Teaching RMH as a gateway for religious literacy in settings like Health Sciences, Medical Humanities, STEM, etc.; carving out space in existing curricula to teach about RMH; advocating for RMH in the hiring process for teaching positions; providing RMH knowledge or training to address student and parent concerns about the job market after professional education (e.g., med/pre-med, and other undergraduate majors); and promoting public understanding of RMH. We are particularly interested in papers that foster a discussion about effective strategies at different kinds of institutions, rather than papers that focus on individual syllabi or case studies.

• Care, Caretaking, and Healthcare
We welcome submissions that consider economies of care, caretaking, and healthcare within broader religious settings and contexts. We are especially interested in papers that address modes and forms of care across chronologies and geographies, from ancient to contemporary, and around the globe (e.g., the effects of healthcare reform on individual and community wellbeing). Co-sponsored with the Religion and Economy Unit and the Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit.

• Friday Workshop to develop detailed organizational plan for RMH Resource Website:
Members of the RMH group and other units of the AAR are welcome to attend and contribute to the conversation.

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