PAPERS Resources

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

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Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit provides a forum for religious scholarship that engages theoretically and methodologically the four-part definition of a Womanist as coined by Alice Walker. We nurture interdisciplinary scholarship, encourage interfaith dialogue, and seek to engage scholars and practitioners in fields outside the study of religion. We are particularly concerned with fostering scholarship that bridges theory and practice and addresses issues of public policy in church and society.

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers on the following topics:

• Sisters in the Wilderness: Classic Landmark Work Twenty-Five Years Later
This year marks twenty-five years since the publication of Delores S. Williams’ Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk (Orbis, 1993). Drawing on the biblical figure of Hagar mother of Ishmael, cast into the desert by Abraham and Sarah, but protected by God, Williams finds a prototype for the struggle of African diasporic women. Hagar, an African slave, homeless exile, surrogate mother, serves as metaphor for an image of survival and defiance appropriate to Black women today. To commemorate the anniversary, we invite papers that address the interfaith/interreligious theological significance of this groundbreaking text then and today, and its role in the formation of womanist theological perspectives, epistemologies, methodologies, and pedagogies. Co-sponsored with the Black Theology Unit, the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit, the Women of Color, Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Unit, SBL Feminist Biblical Hermeneutics, and SBL Women in the Biblical World.

• #MeToo: Sexual Trauma and Sexual Shaming in the Era of #45
Though Tarana Burke, creator of #metoo, designed the campaign in 2007 to promote solidarity between women of color survivors, the popularization of #metoo a decade later eclipses Burke's early efforts making the face of the movement against sexual trauma: white women. When Time magazine raised #metoo as the 2017 theme and named "The Silence Breakers" person of the year, the omission of Tarana Burke from the cover exposes how media often re-traumatizes and renders particular survivors invisible. The well-publicized sexual misconduct assaults pervasive in church institutions and faith communities where authorities move pastoral pedophiles from congregation to congregation, and the #metoo campaign has exposed men in the worlds of film and TV, sports, food, news media and publishing, academia, technology, and politics, including the current sitting U.S. President. This session invites papers that address sexual trauma and sexual shaming, including the way society weights trauma and race, and the need for therapy and pastoral care: the culture of violence disproportionately targets girls and women of color. Questions of identity, methodology, and ethics using psychological, theological, and religious perspectives animate these discussions in both activist and academic circles. For co-sponsorship with the Psychology, Culture, and Religion Unit and the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit.

• Methodologies, Epistemologies, and Ontologies: Doing Womanist Theory and Praxis
With the growth of disciplines and our changing world, this session questions how identities, philosophies, and methodologies continue to develop over time, giving voice to the intersectional experiences of women with particular attention to the role of womanist thought. Moving from binary gender constructs is emerging as part of many conversations in women and religious studies. How do we unearth different ways of knowing and locations of doing womanist engagement in its multiple iterations in the academy and the world? What are options regarding directions that womanist thought, theory, and praxis is moving? What is the nature of the various methodologies, and intersections, and what are the parameters for who gets to use this vocabulary. This session invites persons to propose a round table or panel. Papers will be posted prior to the meeting, with presenters offering a summary of their paper to allow time for greater dialog. Co-sponsored paper session with the Lesbian-Feminisms and Religion Unit and the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit.

E-mail without Attachment (proposal appears in body of e-mail)
Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
We hope to build on 2017, and to have an amazing program in 2018.
ChairSteering Committee