AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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This Unit supports scholarship that explores the relationship of religion, theology, technology, and the natural sciences. We support research that attempts to bridge the gap between religious and scientific approaches to reality and encourage the development of constructive proposals that encourage engagement and dialogue with the sciences, along with a critical assessment of the meaning and impact of technologies for the human condition and the natural world.
Vulnerable Populations, Science, Technology, and Religion
Given the AAR’s 2017 theme on vulnerable populations we are particularly interested in papers related to this theme and the nexus of science, technology, and religion. For instance, papers might explore scientific approaches to studying vulnerability that relate to studies of religion, technologies or ways of understanding science that may alleviate or exacerbate vulnerabilities (e.g., technologies of climate engineering, medicine), or the ways that methodologies in religion and science have or could consider vulnerable populations.
The Cultural History of the Study of Religion Unit and the Science, Technology, and Religion Unit seek papers for a co-sponsored session entitled Religio Ex Machina: Machines and other technologies as a part of the cultural history of the study of religion. How have particular technologies (e.g. cameras, engines, fMRI machines) influenced the study of religion. How have "machines" (widely conceived) engendered new approaches to the study of religion? We intend to use a roundtable format for this session in which panelists give short, 5-7 minute position papers before the discussion.
Life in the 21st century benefits from technological advances in the sciences. Most technologies, ranging from medical to communication devices, from transportation to data management systems promise to enhance life. And yet as we have learned over the last centuries, technology can also endanger life. We are especially interested in papers that address some of the following questions: "From the side of ethics, how can we judge technological advances?" alongside the hermeneutical question "What visions of an enhanced life are embedded and presupposed in certain technologies?" And: "How do technological visions resonate with specific religious conceptions of enhancing life?" This session will be co-sponsored by the Religion and Humanism and Science, Technology, and Religion Units.
On the Future of Science, Technology, and Religion
What theories and methods do scholars need to deploy in order to discern and engage with future directions for science, technology, and religion? In the next ten to thirty years, what will be the best way to approach key topics, ideas, discoveries, and problems at the nexus of these three disciplines? These two questions are intended to be open-ended so that the papers submitted can answer them from a variety of religious, technological, and scientific methodologies and perspectives. Our plan is to pre-circulate the papers. In the session, we will have participants summarize their ideas so that we can engage in more discussion than is generally the case.
We also welcome high-quality proposals or panels on other topics related to the unit’s overall themes.