PAPERS Resources

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

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Roman Catholic Studies Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit provides a scholarly forum to study the global Roman Catholic community. Consequently, we welcome critical studies, cultural, ethical, historical, and theological perspectives. We seek to mirror the subject community’s diversity in pursuing equally diverse methods to study that community.

Call for Papers: 

The Roman Catholic Studies Unit invites submissions on diverse subjects in Catholic Studies, but especially the following topics:

• Interrogating American Catholicism
In August 1996, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin wrote a statement entitled “Called to be Catholic: Church in a Time of Peril” listing key challenges to the Church that require honesty and imagination. In this new millennium, we invite papers that critically reflect on the challenges listed by Cardinal Bernardin in ways that can deepen and broaden our understanding and study of American Catholicism. This includes questions on the capacity of the Church to embrace African-American, Latino/a, and Asian/Asian-American populations, the changing roles of women and a space for LGBTIA persons. To what degree have these populations changed not only the demographic and dynamic of American Catholicism but also the very study of its history and practices, challenging who counts as Catholic and part of American Catholicism. We invite papers that consider the historical, theological, and ethical dimensions of race, ethnicity, sexuality and identity politics in the Catholic Church, with particular attention to the ways in which the theologies and studies of these groups, and the other issues Cardinal Bernardin listed, might enrich or disrupt other disciplinary modes of interrogating American Catholicism in the 21st Century.

• U.S. Immigration and Global Migration
During Pope Francis’s speech to the U.S. Congress in 2015, he invoked the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. to discuss not only the issue of U.S. immigration, but also that of global migration, with his reference to how “our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.” We invite papers that consider the involvement of Catholics in this global crisis as immigrants, migrants, or refugees, and as those who reject or accept them into their communities. What are some theological positions on the treatment of immigrations and refugees? How does the issue of immigration and migration challenge us to think of new ways of being church, including new reflections on Christology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, Catholic social teaching, moral theology, etc.? What historical precedents might shed light on current circumstances? Are there specific examples of Catholic responses to the migrant/refugee crises in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, as well as debates about the status of immigrants and refugees in the United States and other parts of the world?

• Catholicism, Colonialism, and Indigenous Religions
The colonial roots of Catholicism in French, Spanish, British, American, and Canadian territories places the interaction of European and Native American peoples at the center of the Catholic Church in the Americas. The Catholic Church’s legacy of colonialism remains salient in the twenty-first century, as was made manifest when Pope Benedict XVI canonized Kateri Tekakwitha in 2012 and Pope Francis canonized Junipero Serra in 2015. Now, in 2017, the bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, has forwarded the sainthood cause of Nicholas Black Elk, a Lakota chief and Catholic catechist who was made known to wider audiences in John Neihardt’s book Black Elk Speaks. We invite proposals that explore the intersection of Catholicism and colonialism through the perspectives of indigenous peoples in the Americas. We also encourage papers that reflect upon ways in which the Catholic Church, in both official and unofficial capacities, has addressed its colonial past and present.

• Teaching Roman Catholic History and Culture: National and Global Frameworks
Those who teach courses on the history and culture of Roman Catholicism often confine their coverage to national boundaries. There are excellent reasons to organize courses along national lines, but there are also built-in limitations to what or who merits attention. We invite proposals from teachers who structure such courses according to national frameworks (i.e., American Catholicism, French Catholicism, Korean Catholicism, Mexican Catholicism, Nigerian Catholicism) and are willing to pre-circulate their syllabi to panel participants and audience members. The goal of the panel is to think critically and comparatively about how we teach Roman Catholic history and culture, with particular attention to transnational and global pathways within and between national churches.

We are especially interested in proposals that are attentive to the ways in which history and theory relate to one another within the field of Roman Catholic studies. Co-chairs are happy to consult with those who are developing individual papers, paper sessions, or roundtable proposals to answer questions, discuss ideas, and help shape final submissions.

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
In an effort to guide the selection process toward maximum diversity, chairs do review proposers' names prior to final acceptance or rejection.
ChairSteering Committee