This Unit provides a scholarly forum to study the global Catholic community. We welcome critical studies, cultural, ethical, historical, and theological perspectives. We seek to mirror the subject community’s diversity in pursuing equally diverse methods to study that community.
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Catholic Studies Unit
Call for Proposals
The Catholic Studies Unit invites submissions on diverse subjects in the study of Catholics and Catholicism across time and place. We are interested in proposals that are attentive to the ways in which history and theory relate to one another within the field of Catholic Studies. Co-chairs are happy to consult with those who are developing individual papers, paper sessions, roundtable proposals, or other creative formats.
The Unit encourages proposals on the following topics for the 2023 meeting in San Antonio, Texas:
- Critical Catholic Studies--How has the term Critical Catholic Studies been deployed and how might its meanings shift, sharpen, and be refined? What does it mean to be “critical” in the context of the study of Catholics and Catholicism? Looking at the wider landscape of the study of religion, what’s next for Catholic Studies?
- African Catholicisms--Africa has the fastest-growing Catholic population in the world. Already, nearly 20% of the global population of Catholics reside in Africa. The Catholic Studies Unit seeks proposals that not only document Catholicism in African nations, but also consider the ways Catholicisms in Africa challenge the key categories, frameworks, and theories that have dominated the study of Catholics in other parts of the world.
- Muscular Catholics in Popular Culture--What kind of leverage or insight does Catholic studies offer for understanding the rise of fitness-oriented hyper-masculine Catholics as part of U.S. popular culture?
- Otherwise Transnational Catholicisms--The study of transnational Catholicism has often been routed through North America and Europe. What happens if Catholic transnationalism circumvents that pathway in favor of relations among Catholics in the Global South (Asia, South Asia, the South Pacific, South and Central America, Africa, and/or the Middle East)?
- Medieval Catholic Theology and the Environment--We look to scholars of the premodern Catholic world to share research about medieval thought on the interconnections between theology and the environment. How were such connections conceptualized, debated and/or embodied in the medieval Catholic world?
- South Asian Catholicisms--The Catholic Studies Unit seeks proposals that not only document Catholicism in South Asia, but also consider the ways Catholicisms in the region challenge the key categories, frameworks, and theories that have dominated the study of Catholics in other parts of the world.
- Catholicism, Abortion, and Human Rights in Texas--Some observers have called for a boycott of the State of Texas as a result of recent changes in the laws surrounding abortion. The controversy has raised questions about human rights and the role of Catholicism in politics and protest in Texas and the wider U.S. We seek proposals that offer perspective on these issues from the realms of Catholic history, anthropology of Catholicism, and/or Catholic theology.
We urge all paper and panel proposals actively to address questions of format and timing. It is the Catholic Studies Unit’s preference to have individual papers never exceed 12 minutes in length and for every panel to include a well-planned allotment of time for audience involvement. We strongly encourage proposals that include innovative, interactive, and dynamic formats.
Statement of Purpose
J. Michelle Molina, Northwestern University1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
John Seitz, Fordham University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Steering Committee Members
Kristin Bloomer, Carleton College1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Jack Downey, University of Rochester1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Katherine Dugan, Springfield College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Daisy Vargas, University of Arizona1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025