This Unit offers a unique venue within the AAR for addressing the intersections of religion, bioethics, and health/healthcare related matters. It encourages creative and scholarly examinations of these intersections, drawing on such disciplines as religious and philosophical ethical theory, theology, ethnography, clinical ethics, history, and law. It seeks to undertake this scholarly work by drawing on a variety of perspectives (e.g., Feminist/Womanist/Mujerista, cross-cultural, and interreligious) and to demonstrate the contributions that religious and ethical scholarship can offer to the critical exploration of contemporary bioethical issues.
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Bioethics and Religion Unit
Call for Proposals
- Dissecting Latinx Bodies: Religion, Bioethics, and Healthcare (Co-sponsored with Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society Unit)
The Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society Unit and the Bioethics and Religion Unit welcome proposals that examine the intersection of religion, health, healthcare, and bioethics that focus on experiences of Latinx, persons/communities. Topics may include but are not limited to: effects of immigration, migration, and border policies on physical or mental health; histories of medical experimentation; history and experience of medical malpractice; bodily autonomy; threats to reproductive health including forced sterilization; disproportionate consequences of illness, fatalities, and economic loss related to Covid-19; racial and ethnic group disparities in health status, and healthcare access. Various disciplinary approaches and methodologies from bioethics and religio-cultural studies are welcome.
- Bioethics, Religion, and Catastrophe
Religion serves many purposes during catastrophic events and eras. Climate change is one type of catastrophe that has wrought natural and manmade disasters like droughts, wildfires, floods, and crop destruction with human costs such as climate refugees, broken family units, and famine. Religion - as beliefs, practices, communities, institutions, and even public policy – can provide emotional support, spiritual care, identity development, a sense of belonging, and material assistance. On the other hand, misuse of religion also provides justification for failing to speak out or to relieve catastrophe in the lives of out-group individuals.
In the accordance with the theme selected by the President of the American Academy of Religion for the 2022 Annual Meeting, the Bioethics and Religion Unit welcomes proposals that “reflect on the contributions of the study of religion, actual and potential, [in] addressing climate change” or other human experiences of catastrophe – past or present. Additionally, we invite proposals that fit within the unit’s statement of purpose that engage various issues in the field of bioethics and healthcare more broadly.
- Regulation of pain / pain in bodies / medicine & opioid crisis (Co-sponsored by the Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit and the Bioethics and Religion Units)
This panel will explore peoples’ regulation of pain and relationship to substance use. Framing questions might include: How might religious responses to pain be explicitly framed as alternatives to pharmaceuticals? How do religious communities’ use of relationship to cannabis, ayahuasca, peyote offer therapeutic healing in spiritual crises? What happens when these substances are removed from their religious context in a capitalist-driven act of appropriation? To what extent do people’ use of pain medication lead to abuse of substances such as opioids? How might this drug abuse (especially with the opioid crisis) derive from people’s experience of spiritual fatigue or even a spiritual void? Are some religious responses to pain explicitly framed as an alternative to pharmaceuticals? Keeping in mind the xenophobic histories that disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and Latinx peoples in the U.S., how does this affect people of color’s cultural and religious relationship to substances? How might we account for the structural and racial inequality in the appropriation of therapeutics developed by religious devotees of color?
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Curtis Baxter, American Association for the Advancement of Science1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Jeffrey P. Bishop, Saint Louis University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Amy Michelle DeBaets, Hackensack University Medical Center1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Deepak Sarma, Case Western Reserve University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Devan Stahl, Baylor University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Wylin Dassie Wilson, Harvard Medical School1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024