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Comparative Studies in Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

We invite papers on the topics below. Submissions for panels or roundtables not listed here are also welcome. 

  • Climate Change and Religious Transformation 

How do religious systems change in response to climate? What may be learned by comparing historical transformations to the circumstances of the present day? This call seeks proposals for comparisons between historical and/or contemporary transformations of religion in response to climate change from any tradition and disciplinary approach. If you are interested in proposing a paper, please contact Eric Huntington at


  • Empathy in Comparative Studies 

Though much maligned in recent history and comparative study of religion, the notion of empathy is resurging in ethics and philosophy. This panel would reconsider the role of empathy in comparative work. Does it still have a place? How does it operate, implicitly or explicitly? If you are interested in this topic, please contact Catherine Cornille at


  • Transgressive Commensality, or Eating with the Wrong People 

Because of food’s multi-dimensionality—physical, symbolic, economic, ritual, and aesthetic—it often functions as a means of contesting social boundaries. This panel explores cases of transgressive commensality and eating with the wrong people in diverse cultures and time periods. These acts represent many things, such as political diplomacy, social protest, building new communities, radically living out religious principles, or other goals. This panel will be interactive, with panelists engaging with each other in the months leading up to the conference. A potential co-sponsorship with the Food and Religion Unit will be explored. If you are interested in proposing a paper, please contact Jon Keune at or Liz Wilson at


We seek to assemble a panel to compare religious valences of animals and venom, poison, and poisoners, as variously manifest across diverse religio-cultural contexts and communities. This panel would be the second in a series of panels on the topic, following a panel at the 2021 AAR that included papers on witchcraft as a comparative lens for the spiritual meaning of poisonous pesticides in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and a paper on poison (Tibetan: dug) “casting” and cancer in Gyalthang, Tibet. We aim to continue this conversation surrounding two central holistic queries: in what ways can poison and poisoners be best understood as comparative categories in the study of religion, and what roles do venom, poison, and toxicity play in the religious roles and religious worlds of animals? If you are interested in proposing a paper, please contact Eric Mortensen at


  • Querying Eco-Aesthetics 

Eco-Aesthetics: What is it? How to query it and think it through? This panel takes up such a line of inquiry within at least three broad domains: epistemology, method/practice and comparison. Especially for those who are invested in ongoing concerns pertaining to ecology, environmentalism, wildlife preservation, sustainability, this panel seeks to amplify their voices in stock-taking the term Eco-Aesthetics. How do we conceptualize it epistemologically? How can Eco-Aesthetics be informed by and inform a multitude of trans-disciplinary discourses such as those coming out of art, anthropology, ethics, religious studies, natural sciences, architecture, spirituality and ritual studies? Also, how may Eco-Aesthetics express varied modalities and methods of individual and communal production such as memoir-writing, rituals of music and performance, environmental activism, scriptural hermeneutics, poetry and contemplative practice? How does Eco-Aesthetics both inform and be informed by eco-criticism and eco-feminism, and eco-justice concerns? How may a Buddhist experience and create an Eco-Aesthetics differently from a Muslim or Catholic? How to assess and compare a Yoruban Eco-Aesthetics with a Confucian one? Importantly, the panel invites papers querying Eco-Aesthetics comparatively, in terms of the world’s diverse religio-cultural communities and worldviews. Due Date: Feb. 15, 2022 for Proposals. Please feel free to communicate with panel organizers Ruqayya Yasmine Khan ( and Roberta Sabbath (


  • Comparative Methods in the Undergraduate Classroom: Transforming Teaching in Trying Times 

In late 2021, we (as academics) and our undergraduate students find ourselves confronted with weighty, existential questions about the meaning and significance of the intellectual work that we do in our classrooms. The "so what" question, impressed upon our students by parents casting fearful eyes to the future job market, has never resounded more clearly. This roundtable seeks to explore the myriad ways that comparative methods (defined broadly) can help us, as educators, address these challenges, whether by using comparison to promote cultural competency in our diverse student bodies, to critique atavistic biases in contemporary scholarship, or even to explore the historical / cultural situatedness of Religious Studies theories as a practical guide for thinking and talking about religion in daily life (among innumerable other potential applications). We are seeking to assemble a roundtable with 6-8 participants. It will adopt a "show-and-tell" format, exploring such questions as: What sort of approaches have we attempted? What prompted the adoption of these approaches? What has worked / what hasn't? Why? If you are interested in this topic, please contact Christopher Jensen at

Statement of Purpose


Steering Committee Members




We do not consider individual paper submissions, only roundtables or panels.

Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members