This Unit draws together scholars who utilize the methodological tools and theoretical perspectives of anthropology in the study of religion as a social and cultural phenomenon. Given the increasing importance of anthropology and ethnography for the academic study of religion, we serve the academy as an important forum for sustained discussion and critique of anthropological approaches that can connect scholars working on diverse traditions, regions, and eras who otherwise might not have the opportunity to learn from each other. Interested members are encouraged to join our (low volume) list-serv: https://aarlists.org/
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Anthropology of Religion Unit
Call for Proposals for November Meeting
We invite proposals from the full range of ethnographic theories and methods exploring diverse traditions, regions, topics, periods, and standpoints from across the discipline. The steering committee has identified the following areas to be of particular interest for individual and panel submissions:
- Anthropology in Times of Crisis. How we negotiate research in contexts of crisis (whether political, social, economic, or environmental), with particular attention to how knowledge is collected, analyzed, preserved, and disseminated. We are especially interested in papers addressing theoretical, methodological, and ethical innovations that come from confronting crises.
- Religion and the Environment. How anthropological perspectives can help us understand the place of the environment in religious traditions and among religious communities. We are especially interested in papers that explore how human interactions with (culturally-postulated) non-human actors shape people's understandings and experiences of the climate crisis.
- Non/areligion. What can anthropologists of religion offer to the expanding scholarship on the nonreligious/areligious/spiritual but not religious? What theoretical lenses work best to situate these categories ethnographically?
- Existential Anthropology and the Study of Religion (book session, for which we are securing a co-sponsor). This session gathers contributors and critics around a new edited volume at the intersection of anthropology, philosophy, and religious studies. Between Life and Thought: Existential Anthropology and the Study of Religion (University of Toronto Press, 2024; see here for the book’s website) explores the impact of the work of philosophical anthropologist Michael Jackson on religious studies. This is a preorganized panel for which we are not soliciting proposals.
Further, we encourage panel proposals that use creative and alternative formats that elevate critical dialogue and engage multiple senses, for example:
- Flash Formats. An increased number of presenters are allotted ~7 minutes, followed by a robust, guided discussion. One suggestion would be to choose a (number of) key term(s) in the anthropology of religion, to which panelists can respond.
- Authors Meet Critics. We suggest up to three authors engage with one another’s recent books around common themes and questions.
- Sensory Props. Presenters engage with a material form that bears fieldwork significance, such as physical objects, visual images, and/or sound recordings.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Hanna Kim, Adelphi University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Lauren Leve, University of North Carolina1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Candace Lukasik, Mississippi State University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Alyson Prude, Georgia Southern University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Brendan Jamal Thornton, University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Sarah Tobin, Christian Michelsen Institute1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026