PAPERS Resources

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

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Secularism and Secularity Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The Secularism and Secularity Unit explores a broad a set of questions associated with the secular, including its complex entanglements with religion and spirituality. This inquiry entails the study of political secularism and its role in the construction of religion, as well as the study of secular people, who can be described with a variety of labels including atheist, agnostic, humanist, and freethinker. It also includes an ongoing reappraisal of the historical transformations named by “secularization,” which signal the emergence of the modern and presuppose a break from the premodern. The Unit fosters new directions in secular studies by encouraging theoretically informed research that makes empirical contributions and engages with the subfield’s rapidly growing interdisciplinary literature.

Call for Papers: 

The Secularism and Secularity group encourages submissions that address the following topics through original empirical research:

• Secularism and Social Justice Activism
How does the divide between secular and religious map (or fail to map) onto struggles for rights and recognition, such as those of indigenous people or activists fighting for racial and gender equality?

• Secularism, Race, and Gender
Why are atheists, humanists, and other kinds of nonbelievers more likely to be white and male? How do women and people of color experience secularism differently?

• Secularization and History
How do we narrate the emergence of the secular? Is it a story of continuity or rupture, and what are the effects of these historical narratives? How do these questions relate to political theology?

• Secularism, Science, and Technology
How does the growth of secularism relate to the emergence of empiricism as a culture? What do we make of scientific narratives of progress or impending destruction? What is the role of scientific materialism in the twenty-first century, especially in Communist and formerly Communist countries?

• Secularism, Medicine, and Healing
When do claims about the religiosity or secularity of healing practices have consequences in the world? How do factors like race and gender pattern these consequences?

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
ChairSteering Committee