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) Class/Labor/Workers in the COVID Crisis:
We invite papers that consider what the COVID pandemic (and various responses to and consequences of it) has revealed or obscured, transformed, or intensified in class inequalities, labor relations/processes, workers' experiences, and/or power differences. Papers might, for example, explicate the category of "essential worker" as an economic-political-moral phenomenon or explore how the meaning of work has shifted along deeply class-inflected lines (e.g., for frontline workers vs. middle-class parents working from home vs. newly unemployed workers). Or papers might explore class inequalities and power dynamics in the various crises resulting from (or intensified by) the initial COVID crisis, for instance: crises of care, of healthcare access, of employment, of funding for public services, of disparate responses to science and scientific strategies.
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 Religious Conversions Unit:
We invite papers that compare and/or connect religious conversion and coming to class consciousness as two modes/forms of "conversion."
4) For a possible co-sponsored session with the Transformative Scholarship and Pedagogy Unit:
In light of the AAR presidential theme of “Religion, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures,” we invite proposals that discuss ways faculty have incorporated class and power analysis into religious studies courses. How do we assist students to do critical analysis of our economic and political structures and systems and how do we impassion them to envision and promote transformative social change that addresses poverty and inequality? We are especially interested in proposals that understand class as a power structure not only as unequal income/wealth distribution, as well as proposals that foreground working-class employees and communities.
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.
6) For a co-sponsored session with the Liberation Theology Unit and other units:
"Fifty years of Teología de la Liberación – Examining Gustavo Gutiérrez’s Influence and the Task of the Liberation of Theology"
In 1971 Gustavo Gutiérrez published the article “Hacia Una Teología de la Liberación,” followed by one of the most influential books of the 20th century, Teología de la Liberación: Perspectivas. To mark this year of celebrations, reflections, and conversations on this important anniversary we invite proposals that creatively engage Gutiérrez’s work from a variety of interdisciplinary lenses and contexts. We especially invite proposals that bring Gutiérrez’s contributions in contact with current challenges and future visions of the liberation of theology and theologies that seek to liberate, including problematizing the meaning(s) and praxis of liberation across the theological disciplines.
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