PAPERS Resources

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

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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: 

Power to the People: Black Women's Power, Black Studies Movement and the Womanist Social Justice Critique -
Black women leaders (scholars/activists/artists/revolutionaries) in the academy and the larger world have made profound impact in public spaces. Significant emergence of Black women's power occurred in California during the 1960s with the founding of the Black Panther Party and the Black Studies Movement, in concert with Black women who participated in the cultural, religious, and economic nationalist wing of the Black Power Movement. Powerful women also shaped the Nation of Islam. These brilliant activists, community organizers, writers, artists, and thinkers served important and influential roles, implemented programs that were vital to uplifting the Black community, and called out sexism. Black students from UC Santa Barbara joined the national civil rights movement to end racial segregation and the systematic exclusion of African American studies from the curriculum of major universities. Their protest and vision resulted in the founding of Department of Black Studies and a Center for Black Studies to monitor, coordinate, support, and encourage research in the community. This session explores the intersections of the profound impact of prominent women in the Black Power Movement (e.g., Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, Elaine Brown, Angela Davis, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Sonya Sanchez, etc.) and the impact of Black Studies Movement as spaces for liberation from oppression in conversation with the 25th anniversary groundbreaking Black Womanist Ethics and the social justice and societal critique of Dr. Emilie Townes' work, Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope.

Coping, Celebration, and Creative Imagination: Womanist Rituals and Embodied Praxis -
 Most socio-religious cultures engage rituals, or sequences of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, in particular spaces and places, formally and informally to build community, practice traditions, and codify belief systems. Black women engage ritual in everyday life as well as in Black women's literary traditions. This co-sponsored session invites papers that explore rituals as resistance practices, domestic practices, and womanist interdisciplinary engagement. These activities can include spiritual coping, liturgical celebration, prophetic homiletics, creative arts, and/or socio-religious ethics that take seriously the participation and appreciation of Black bodies. Co-sponsored with Ritual Studies Unit. 


● Hot Topics: Black Women and Sexuality through the Lens of Scripture, Popular Culture, and Religious Media -
 This session explores womanist interpretation of women in the Bible and the roles of reproductive labor/care work/affective labor, in concert with the discussion of two works, Tamura Lomax’s Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture which traces the use of the jezebel trope in the Black church and in Black popular culture, showing how it is pivotal to reinforcing men's cultural and institutional power to discipline and define Black girlhood and womanhood; and Monique Moultrie’s Passionate and Pious: Religious Media and Black Women's Sexualitywhich explores the impact of faith-based sexual ministries on Black women's sexual agency to trace how these women navigate sexuality, religious authority, and their spiritual walk with God. Black women, in the US and around the world, have historically and in the present day borne the brunt of exploitation in various forms of labor. At the same time, these forms of labor have also been sites for generative community-building and empowerment within Black communities. Womanist biblical interpretation helps us see the function of oppression in biblical texts that often gets played out in church and society.

● For a co-sponsored session with the Class, Religion, and Theology Unit and SBL's Gender, Sexuality, and the Bible group, we solicit papers exploring Womanist interpretation of women in the Bible and the roles of reproductive labor/care work/emotional labor, in concert with the discussion of two works: Tamura Lomax's Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture; and Monique Moultrie's Passionate and Pious: Religious Media and Black Women's Sexuality. We especially invite papers that use the lens of reproductive labor/care work/emotional labor, which can be defined as physical, mental, emotional, and/or interactive labor that keeps bodies and whole communities alive from one day, and one generation, to the next. Black women, in the US and around the world, have historically and in the present day borne the brunt of exploitation in these forms of labor, yet at the same time, they have also been sites for generative community-building and empowerment within Black communities. In addition, these forms of labor have been an important theme in Womanist biblical interpretation, which helps us see the function of oppression in biblical texts that often gets played out in church and society.

Womanist Theology, Sociality, and Subversive Praxis -
Papers that examine the influence of womanist theologians, Katie Cannon and Emilie Townes. We invite papers that engage these authors with a particular focus on how womanist theology reimagines practice, experience, and sociality through intersectional analyses of the social order. In addition, we encourage proposals that demonstrate how womanist thought escapes rigid distinctions between theory and practice, the religious and the secular, and the natural and the supernatural.

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