The Bahá'í Studies Unit is devoted to the study of the Bahá'í religion in all its aspects: history, lives of its primary figures and their missions, sacred and authoritative texts, scholarly and popular literature, teachings, practices, expressions in art and social action, its public discourse, growth, issues of minorities within it, and its local and national communities, both as these aspects exist today and how the understanding of them has evolved over time. It studies these aspects using the scholarly tools available, but is particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches and integrated paradigms of scholarship. It seeks dialogue with researchers of other faith traditions and comparative research involving the Bahá'í Faith and other religious communities.
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Baha’i Studies Unit
Call for Proposals
Changing Identities in a Global Society
In communities and nations around the world, peoples and groups struggle to define themselves and their place in the world; the surge in ethnic nationalism sweeping across Western societies brings renewed salience to questions of identity. Countless permutations of “us” and “them” are splintering identities, accelerating the rise of divergent interest groups, and making it more and more difficult to foster social cohesion. The question of human identity has been at the core of religious teachings and takes on renewed salience when efforts are made to reconcile tensions between bounded social identities on the one hand and a recognition of the interdependence and oneness of the human race on the other. The Baha’i Studies Unit will explore the ways in which religious communities and diverse theologies grapple with the tensions between the particular and the universal in the construction of human identity. We welcome papers that explore the following:
- How do religious traditions address the tensions between the particular and the universal? In what ways do various traditions, theologies, and accompanying practices support the flourishing of diversity while fostering a consciousness of belonging to the human race?
- How do religious traditions re-imagine local, national, or regional identities in a way that enables the above-mentioned tensions to be resolved?
- What is the spiritual basis of our shared human identity? How do we reconcile the recognition of our secondary identities (e.g. gender, ethnicity, nationality) with our primary human identity?
- How does the construction of a global identity shape the understanding and practice of gender equality, education, governance, international development, among others?
- How does the core tenet of the Baha’i Faith, the principle of the oneness of humankind, and its embodiment in the practices of the Baha’i community address itself to the exigencies and challenges of present-day social fragmentation?
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Loni Bramson, American Public University System1/1/2016 - 12/31/2021
Susan Maneck, Jackson State University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Mike McMullen, University of Houston, Clear Lake1/1/2016 - 12/31/2021
Saphira Rameshfar, Baha'i International Community, United Nations Office1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Benjamin Schewel, University of Groningen / University of Virginia1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Christopher Glen White, Vassar College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025