You are here

Animals and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

This Unit addresses the study of animals and religion and seeks to engage scholars of religion with the emergent field of animal studies. We welcome theoretically informed paper/panel proposals on all topics related to these themes. We value papers that attend to real animals alongside theoretical constructs, imagery, or representations pertaining to them, and papers that attend to intersectionality with race, gender, sexuality, disability, and other matters of justice.


In addition to this open call for papers, the Animals and Religion Unit is interested in organizing sessions around the following topics, with an eye toward the 2024 Annual Meeting’s presidential theme: “Violence, Non-Violence, and the Margin.”

  • Relationships among animals themselves. We spend considerable time reflecting on human-animal relations, but how do religious texts and traditions approach relations between animals themselves? We are especially interested in papers analyzing inter-animal responses to death, care, bonding, and violence.
  • Consent and coercion. We are interested in papers analyzing the role of religion in the assumption and/or projection of animal consent, along with the coercion of animal labor (of various kinds).
  • Examining the idea of entanglement. We are interested in thinking more carefully about the many valences of interspecies “entanglement,” specifically the ways in which love/care, compassion, dependence, and violence are often difficult to separate. Natality (birth) and mortality (death) are fraught with both care and violence. Compassion and empathy are lauded as virtues, but can also demean through patronizing and disempowering undertones.
  • Post-humanism. If the vision of liberal humanism is fragmenting and collapsing, what becomes of the discourse of species in its wake? How might religious texts and traditions that engage with animals de-center overrepresented ideas of “the human” and make space for another way of being? In what ways do religious ecologies preserve the centrality of “the human” and in what ways to religious ecologies make space for new modes of existence and interaction?
  • Religion and veganism. How do the practices of veganism vary across religious and cultural differences? What insights might emerge from interreligious and intercultural dialogue focused specifically on veganism? How are violence and non-violence imagined differently in various practices of veganism?
  • Animality and the justification of violence. We are interested in analysis of the ways in which perceptions and assumptions of the violence of animals are used to naturalize and justify human violence. Likewise, we are interested in analysis of the complexities of “dehumanization”—wherein human beings are made ideologically “killable” through association with animals and the presumption that animals are, by definition, “killable.”
  • Finally, we welcome paper proposals and panel proposals that advance scholarship in the area of Animals and Religion, even if they don’t directly address the prompts above.

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this Unit is to advance scholarship by providing a forum for scholars whose work addresses the study of animals and religion, and to engage religious studies scholars with the emergent field of animal studies. The Unit emphasizes the theoretical implications of attention to animals for the study of religion and a diversity of approaches, including, but not limited to:

  • Cultural and comparative history of religions
  • Critical theory
  • Ethnography and anthropology of religion
  • Descriptions of the role(s) religious/theological traditions have played in mediating representations of nonhuman animals
  • Assessments of relationships between religious constructions of animals and those animals


Steering Committee Members


Review Process

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