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
The Class, Religion, and Theology unit invites paper proposals on any of the following topics, in addition to coordinating a pre-arranged roundtable discussion among panelists invited by a diverse group of units to respond to the 2020 US election.
(1) Contingent Labor in the Discipline and Across the Academy and Globe
As part of the the AAR's 2020 reflection on "the AAR as an Academic Guild," the Class, Religion, and Theology Unit and the Academic Labor and Contingent Faculty Committee (possibly in partnership with additional committees/units) seek papers that analyze contingent labor within the discipline, within higher education overall, and/or as a labor system that is becoming nationally and globally dominant. We are interested both in methodologically descriptive papers that critically analyze a particular aspect of contingent labor (or the experience of contingent workers) in one or more of these contexts and methodologically normative papers that evaluate the contingent labor system from an ethical or critical-theoretic standpoint.
(2) Ecological Crisis and Vulnerable Peoples
For a possible co-sponsored session of the Religion and Ecology unit, Religion and Disability Studies unit, Class, Religion, and Theology unit, and Religion and Migration unit:
The global climate crisis affects people who are already most susceptible to environmentally linked degradation. We invite papers addressing the devastating impact of climate change and connected ecological crisis on vulnerable peoples, including persons with disabilities, the working class, indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrants, people living unhoused and/or with food insecurities, and others. We welcome engagement from a range of disciplines, methods, and religious traditions.
(3) The Labor of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Indigenous Racialized Bodies in/and U.S. Religious Traditions
For a possible co-sponsored session with the Class, Religion, and Theology unit, the Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society unit, the Religions in the Latina/o Americas unit, the Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society unit, we welcome proposals on the topic of "the Labor of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Indigenous Racialized Bodies in/and U.S. Religious Traditions." Proposals may address the following or related questions:
• How does the concept of labor, with its multiple connotations of both economic production and social reproduction, offer a useful way to make sense of black, brown, yellow, and indigenous racialized bodies' participation in U.S. religious traditions?
• What distinct kinds of labor have brown, indigenous, yellow, or black racialized people been expected to perform in our own religious communities and/or in predominantly white religious communities?
• How has labor (productive and/or reproductive) been a site for religious expression and/or resistance to oppression by indigenous, yellow, black, or brown racialized bodies?
• How have labor hierarchies and the labor of subordinated racial groups been sacralized?
• How is the religious labor of yellow, black, indigenous or brown racialized people further unequalized by hierarchies of gender and sexuality?
(4) Food Systems: Interfaces of Religion, Ecology, and Class
For a possible tri-sponsored session with the Religion & Ecology, Religion & Food, and Class, Religion & Theology units, we invite proposals on the theme of food systems as interfaces between religion, ecology, and class. Food practices are central to nearly every religion — and this food is generated by broader food systems that simultaneously have major environmental impacts, make use of myriad forms of exploited (gendered and raced) labor, and mediate widespread class-based economic and health inequalities. Proposals can address one or several of these (or related) intersections. Historical, ethnographic, sociological, theological, and critical-theoretic methods are all welcome.
(5) Open Call
We invite proposals related to our unit's purpose statement, especially those that focus on class inequalities; labor (understood as economic production and/or social reproduction or both); the intersections of class with race, gender/sexuality, disability, and/or environmental degradation; or corporate domination of workers.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
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
Edith Szanto, University of Alabama1/1/2016 - 12/31/2021