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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.

• "Troubling Topics, Sacred Texts": Sacred texts continue to inspire a diversity of scholarship that seeks to transform the ancient into the contemporary, the remote into the immediate, and the distant into the visceral experience. At the same time, the texts confront a plethora of troubling topics. Reflecting the spirit of comparative studies in religion seriously engaging two or more religious traditions around a common topic and the recent publication of Troubling Topics, Sacred Texts: Readings in Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Qur’an (De Gruyter 2021), this panel focuses attention on how not only sacred texts themselves but their religious inflections function to manage, signify, and negotiate the most troubling of topics. Veering towards a cultural studies lens, the panel seeks to remove the auratic nature of texts and recognize the profound cultural consequences of their receptions, cooption, and polemic power. In addition to a polymorophous array of troubling topics, a variety of discursive methodologies is also invited. All are ways to better appreciate the rich landscape that inspired the many voices, often hidden in plain sight, of these texts. Invitations will be made but submissions by those inspired by the topic are invited. Please contact Roberta Sabbath, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Email:

• "Poison, Poisoners, & Religion": This comparative panel aims to bring together scholars whose research engages relationships between religion and poison or poisoners, broadly defined. In particular, as we aim for the panel to be comparative in terms of method, papers would ideally themselves contain elements of a comparative project. That said, “poison,” herein, can refer to all sorts of phenomena, from the metaphoric to the literal, from the creation and casting of poison to the religious elements of antidotes, from the venom of sacred animals to religion as poison. Please contact Eric Mortensen. Professor of Religious Studies at Guilford College. Email:

• "Colors in Religion": This call seeks papers that deal with color (hue) as a religious category. Possible topics might relate to philosophies of optics and perception, color semiotics in visual and material culture, the sacrality of pigments, or any other aspect of color that fits within the scope of religious studies. Papers with a comparative approach are particularly welcome. Please contact Eric Huntington Email:

Statement of Purpose

This Unit provides the opportunity for significant cross-traditional and cross-cultural inquiry. We traditionally solicit paper sessions that provide occasions for comparative inquiry seriously engaging two or more religious traditions around a common topic and we ensure that critical reflection is given to the conceptual tools therein employed. We welcome co-sponsorship opportunities with other AAR units.

This Unit has a listserv (CompRel), which is used primarily for announcements, calls for papers, and discussions about panel proposals. If you wish to subscribe, please send a request to


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

Review Process Comments

We believe that anonymous review is important initially, but the chairs review proposer names at the final decision-making stage in order to make sure that a range of institutions, ranks, religious traditions, research foci, and research methods are included in each year's panel offerings.