This Unit seeks to study class as a relational concept that needs to be explored in its complex manifestations, which will yield more complex understandings of religion and theology in turn. Avoiding reductionist definitions that occur when studying each class in itself or viewing class only according to stratified income levels or particular historical and sociological markers, this Unit will investigate how classes shape up in relation and tension with each other and with religion and theology. This Unit’s investigations of class, religion, and theology also include intersections with gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and ecology.
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Class, Religion, and Theology Unit
Call for Proposals
General Guidance: Proposals in response to the calls below should clearly indicate how consideration of class inequalities and dynamics shapes the paper's analysis or conclusions and/or how the paper foregrounds issues of class, labor, or workers (while recognizing their intersections with other dimensions of inequality).
1) Anthropocene or Capitalocene?
Are we in the Anthropocene Era or the Capitalocene Era? Discussions of the ecological crisis have centered on human action as the principal precipitating factor with little attention to ways the “world-ecology of capital” structures human action and choice. For example, contributors to the recent volume Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism assert that idea of Capitalocene already is part of worldwide conversations about the current era. What's at stake in characterizing the ecological catastrophe as something caused by humans as such or as humans governed by capitalist regimes? What is the meaning of the apparently ever-expanding influence of multi-national corporations on governing and who governs? Do Anthropocene and Capitalocene each offer a different analysis of the situation, and do they entail different politics in response to the catastrophe? We welcome papers that explore, help define and clarify, and make analytical connections for thinking of these as distinct or (now-)concurrent eras? Do and how do local social and political realities reflect influence of the Anthropocene and/or Capitalocene?
2) General Call:
We invite papers that demonstrate the continuing significance of class, labor, and workers' issues in the study of religion and theology or address major questions in the study of class, labor, or workers. Some questions meant as illustrative/evocative examples are the following:
• How do/ought scholars of religion and theology acknowledge, define, and address class inequality in their scholarship and/or teaching?
• How does the class-position of scholars of religion and theology affect our scholarship and/or teaching and how ought we be critically self-reflective about this in our scholarship and/or teaching?
• How do class inequalities within the academy relate to class inequalities and power dynamics in society overall?
• What are the prospects for democracy in light of present (and worsening) class inequalities?
3) For a possible co-sponsored session with the Religion & Economics Unit:
** 3a) Poverty and Class as Distinct Analytics:** How do poverty and class offer distinctive analytics for the study of religion? What's at stake, conceptually, in using one or the other as an analytical lens? Or what are useful ways of thinking with them together?
** 3b) Understanding the Waged Workplace as a Religious Site:** How does religion transpire in the workplace? How does the workplace seek to form workers in corporate religion? How do workers’ religious identities lead them to shape the workplace? What are the intersections of religion, poverty, and work?
4) Reproductive Labor
For a session co-sponsored by the Feminist Theory and Religious Reflection, Religion and Sexuality, Women and Religion, and Class, Religion, and Theology units, we seek papers that thematize reproductive labor, which encompasses both biological and social reproduction, in both past and present contexts. We welcome papers that help define and/or queer reproductive labor in multifaceted yet clear ways and show how it interlocks classed, gendered, raced, sexualized, and many other inequalities. Some possible points of focus include but are not limited to
• recent theorizations and analyses of reproductive labor in feminist/queer studies;
• how capitalism intertwines the exploitation of reproductive labor and productive labor; COVID-19 as a crisis of reproductive labor and/or essential labor as reproductive labor;
• debt, poverty, and reproductive labor; enslaved or coerced reproductive practices (including obstetric violence/birth injustice);
• reproductive labor as religious practice (or vice-versa); religious regulation of reproductive labor;
• connections between theories and practices of reproductive decision-making and religious, racial, and/or nationalist ideologies; relationships between the exploitation of reproductive labor and the restriction of reproductive freedom;
• practices and ethics of surrogacy or sex work.
5) For a possible co-sponsored session with the Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Committee:
We invite proposals that address any aspect of the structure of academic labor or the experiences of contingent faculty, within the discipline of religious and theological studies or in the humanities/academy more broadly. We are especially interested in papers that
(a) explore the various forms that contingent academic labor takes and the different experiences of economic precarity and institutional and/or guild status they entail; or
(b) name and confront (income, power, recognition, or other) barriers to solidarity between contingent and tenured/tenure-eligible faculty and/or between faculty and other higher ed laborers and explore possibilities of fomenting solidarity.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Kerry Danner, Georgetown University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Ken Estey, Brooklyn College1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Joerg Rieger, Vanderbilt University1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Joseph Strife, Fordham University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025