PAPERS Resources

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

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Theology of Martin Luther King Jr. Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The work of this Unit is focused on creating conversations around the unique contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. to the Christian theological tradition in the twentieth century and to the religious, cultural, political, and economic consequences of his work. We are particularly interested in the many facets of the Civil Rights Movement, of which King was a significant part. These explorations have included a focus on the role of women in the movement, the economic dimensions of King’s work, and his use of both the theological traditions and rhetoric of the Black Church. In all of our sessions we are interested in fostering inter- and multidisciplinary approaches to this project.

Call for Papers: 

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. visited San Diego and gave two speeches while there. One of these speeches, for which there is an audio recording, builds on the theme of “Remaining Awake” that he used elsewhere. Recognizing the timeliness of this topic, and in response to the overall theme of the Annual Meeting, “Scholarly Workers in Public Spaces,” the Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr. Group looks for strong paper proposals in the following areas:

● “Remaining Awake!” -
Throughout King’s public ministry, how did the posture of “remaining awake” serve King in engaging various campaigns in a courageous and prescient manner? What are King’s distinctive contributions to help us “remain awake” in this time of various socio-political demands for justice, global fluidity and mobility, integration and fragmentation, distraction and stress? What particular insight and enlightenment does King offer for the political and social issues and situations of our time (e.g., gender inequities, dehumanizing technology, migration, global warming, religious and racial conflicts)? What are the areas in which King can be challenged today as socio-religious activists utter calls to “Stay Woke?” We welcome proposals under the theme of "Remaining Awake," that examine various areas of macro-historical and social changes where theology, ethics, and social practices can have a prophetic and imaginary relevance.

● King as a “Public Intellectual.” -
We are looking for the proposals that examine: the various publics that King spoke to. This may include King’s ongoing influence on current public intellectuals across diverse racial-ethnic, gender, class, and social groups; the influence of King on the current Movement for Black Lives, and the influence of King on global civil society (e.g., King at the American Church in Paris). What does the invocation of a Kingian theology and ethics imply in contemporary public intellectual projects?

Non-Violent Theology: Power, Persuasion, and Peace -
Are some theologies - some models of God - better suited for promoting peace and justice through non-violent means? We welcome proposals that explore this question, especially in connection with open-relational, liberal, and/or personalist theologies. We're especially interested in proposals that explore the impact of personalism on the theology and activism of Martin Luther King Jr.

● Other paper proposals that advance the critical engagement of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, theology, and ethics are also welcomed.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee