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Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society Unit

Call for Proposals

Diversity is a core value of the ANARCS unit. For this reason, we encourage organizers of pre-formed panels to invite participants that are diverse in regard to ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and professional status. In addition, we especially welcome proposals that focus on communities that have been historically underrepresented, including Southeast Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, and non-Christian communities.

The Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society Unit invites papers that address the following themes, in conversation with the 2022 theme “Religion & Catastrophe”:

  • Asian American Religious Futures

Rather than center catastrophes, we seek papers that imagine Asian American religious futures. What visions do Asian American religious communities have for the future? How are Asian American religious futures imagined through various forms of art, music and media? What aspirational politics emerge from Asian Pacific American theologies? And what work must be done to achieve it? How do these communities interpret the efficacy of their work, and calibrate change or “progress”? We invite papers to inspire us to think about better alternatives to our present and to guide us in cultivating better relationships within and outside of Asian America.

  • Asian American Religions, the State, and State Institutions

Asian American religious communities have had a precarious relationship to the state. From the surveilling arms of the federal government, such as the IRS and the FBI, to state governed institutions such as schools, prisons, courts, hospitals, zoning boards, and transportation hubs, the state has served as not only a resource for Asian American religious communities but also as a source of catastrophe. What do Asian American encounters with the state and state institutions reveal about the making of the “religious” and “secular” in America? What do these encounters reveal about race and neoliberal forms of state governance? How do state institutions define and delimit the scope of Asian American religious belief, practice and claims to religious freedom? How do Asian American religious actors, in turn, assert their rights and shape these institutions? We invite papers from a variety of methods to sharpen our understanding of religion, Asian America and the state.

Kyle Whyte, the Potawatomi scholar-activist, describes climate change as an “intensified form of colonialism,” where the settler state sustains and replicates itself through militarization and industrialization, both extractive structures of labor and resources. Climate change conversations in this vein have predominantly focused on the tensions between European settlers and indigenous communities. However, Asian American studies scholars have also tended to issues of settler colonialism in relation to Asian settlers and Native Hawaiians (Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura), to Asian American racial formation in the creation of the US settler state (Iyko Day), and representative tensions between Asian American and indigenous communities (Quynh Nhu Le). We invite papers on Asian American settler colonialism and climate change, especially tied to religious formation and material realities, including but not limited to:

  • Identifying the critical questions at hand in making the connections between Asian American religious communities as settler communities, and climate change, relying on historical, theoretical, literary, or ethnographic analyses;
  • Offering an analysis of the theological logics that undergird Asian American settler colonialism , and whether these logics are replicated across diverse Asian American religious communities;
  • Providing a case study of a collaboration between indigenous-Asian American religious communities, identifying the shared goals at hand (and whether or not they address climate change), as well as challenges and potential possibilities for cross-community solidarities

In 2022, ANARCS also looks forward to the following roundtable sessions:

The Theologies of Asian Americans and Pacific Peoples: A Reader (1976)—also known as the “PACTS Reader”—represents some of the earliest Asian Pacific American theological writings. Compiled by Roy Sano, Director of Pacific and Asian American Center for Theology and Strategies (PACTS) at the Graduate Theological Union, this collection displays the burgeoning Asian Pacific American theological subjectivity–stimulated by the Third World Liberation Front protests–as well as the beginnings of the Asian American movement and ethnic studies. While some of the analytic concepts differ, the liberative struggles of these Asian Pacific American Christian mainline denominational leaders continue today. Despite its historical significance, the PACTS Reader was never formally published, but photocopied, roughly bound, and disseminated, known to only a small academic circle. To make this important work more widely accessible, Daniel Lee of Fuller Seminary’s Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry has prepared and edited its forthcoming publication, including additional introductory essays. This roundtable session will revisit the reader’s significance, including its broader historical, social, and political contributions to US and global theological discourse and praxis.

Invited roundtable on recent books in the sociology of religion, with particular attention to works exploring Asian American religions and communities."

In light of more recent scholarship theorizing race in terms of political economy (e.g., Jonathan Tran’s Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism, Vivek Chibber’s Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital, Iyko Day’s Alien Capital, Rey Chow's The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism), we are inviting proposals for a roundtable panel on recent books focusing on religion in relation to neocolonialism, racial capitalism, and/or Asian American racial formation. Each roundtable session would include at least three book authors in conversation, as well as a moderator who would guide the discussion. Books should cohere around some shared themes as well as generate critical discussion that have methodological, analytical, or ethical implications.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit (hereafter referred to as ANARCS) is one of the primary vehicles for the advancement of the study of the religions and practices of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States and Canada. As an integral player in the development of the emerging field of Asian American religious studies, ANARCS has cultivated the work of junior and senior scholars from an impressive array of disciplines, including the history of religion, sociology, theology, philosophy, ethics, anthropology, psychology, education, and American and ethnic studies. ANARCS encourages new perspectives on Asian North American religious practices and faith communities, as well as innovative theoretical work that extends the concepts of empires, diaspora, transnationalism, globalization, im/migration, orientalism, adaptation, acculturation, race, ethnicity, marginalization, oppression, and resistance. In addition to this list of concepts, ANARCS will explore theoretical, philosophical, and theological concepts, such as aesthetics, beauty, and love. ANARCS seeks to foster and mentor scholars (junior, senior, and nontraditional) through preconference sessions, gathering for meals, and maintaining a robust listserv.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection