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Animals and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

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 2023 Annual Meeting’s presidential theme: “La Labor de Nuestros Manos.”

  • Animals and Labor, Animals as Laborers: religious perspectives on husbandry, agriculture, ethics of care, and food.
  • Veterinarians, secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and suicide: Veterinarians have among the highest suicide rates of all professions. How might scholarship in religious studies and/or theology address this issue?
  • Making animals visible and invisible: Religious perspectives on the display of animals (e.g. in zoos, activism, as moral/spiritual exemplars) and the concealment of animals (e.g. in factory farming operations, hierarchies).
  • Borders and Boundaries: Animals crossing and complicating borders, whether those borders are national, conceptual, or disciplinary.
  • Animal languages and inter-species communication, especially in light of emerging scientific knowledge
  • Animals as individuals, animals as populations within ecosystems: How should we think about the value of animal lives? How should we think about animal lives in the context of extinction(s), diminishing populations, and the lives of “endlings” (the last of their kind).
  • Potential co-sponsorship with the History of Christianity Unit: On the 800th anniversary of St. Francis and the first nativity scene to include live animals (1223 C.E.), we invite proposals that explore the various roles accorded to animals in imagining the Christian story. We particularly welcome proposals that complicate and challenge the ways in which the term ‘animal’ is understood, both in nonhuman and human incarnations.
  • 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