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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. 


CO-SPONSORED SESSION: African Diaspora Religions Unit, African Religions Unit, Comparative Studies in Religion Unit and Religion and Food Unit

Food, Faith, Ritual, and Celebration at the Border 

Co-sponsoring units Religion and Food, African Diaspora Religions, African Religions, and Comparative Studies of Religion units will internally select panelists for a panel theme on religion, food, agriculture, land, and those who work the land, including migrant, low-wage, child, injured, or enslaved workers.

For example, sabbatical and jubilee traditions structure restorative rest for bodies and land. Additionally, traditional ecological, embodied, and place based knowledge systems shape dynamic interactions between people, food, and lands.  Such knowledge systems may be responsive to disruptions to local land, waterway, and climate. Contact: Roberta Sabbath (; Yudit Greenberg (; or Ruqayya Khan (


Memorializing Massacres

Questions to consider include, but are not limited to, the various ways in which memories of massacres have been shaped over time, the uses – political, economic, social, religious, and so on – to which these efforts have been put, and their effects (consider the Alamo). Papers with individual case studies should highlight their potential for a comparative discussion. Contact: Gregory Alles (


Religion and Cultural Adaptability 

Through migration, social media, conversion, and sundry other means, religions continue to encounter new cultures. Cultures also change, not least through the formation of new sub-cultures. How do religious systems adapt to changing cultural settings? Under what conditions are religious systems “translated” into cultures, and under what circumstances might they “resist” change or attempt to transform cultures? This call seeks proposals for comparisons regarding how religions adapt to or otherwise confront new cultural settings. If you are interested in proposing a paper, please contact Thomas Seat at


Poison & Poisoners in Religion III

This panel seeks to compare the religious valences of poison and poisoners, as variously manifest, via various methodologies, and across diverse religio-cultural contexts and communities. This panel aims to be a “round three,” following 2021 and 2022 panels on the same topic. This panel surrounds a central holistic query: in what ways can poison and poisoners be best understood as comparative categories in the study of religion? Contact: Eric Mortensen (


New Directions in Comparative Oneirology

Existing as they do at the intersection of embodied (/embrained) experience and cultural mediation, dreams provide religious studies researchers with a superlative opportunity to engage in focused, robust comparison. This panel aims to provide a venue for such an endeavour. Adopting a collaborative, round-table format, this panel will invite scholars to circulate material from their own oneirological research ahead of the conference. Drawing upon these submissions, the panel itself will consist of an active process of rectification/theory formation related to "religious" dreams, dreamers, and dreaming (with the scare quotes here recognizing the second-order nature of the term "religion"). Contact: Christopher Jensen (


Non-Human Animals, Religion, and the Environmental Crisis 

In the natural environment, animals have often detected an environmental crisis before it happens. In cases of impending floods even before technology detects them, elephants have gone for higher ground, birds have abandoned nesting areas, and dogs have refused to go outdoors. In February 2022, in the coastal village of Bang Koey in Thailand, a herd of buffalo by the beach suddenly pricked their ears, gazed out to sea, then stampeded to the top of a nearby hill a few minutes before a tsunami struck. Analogously, animals have been closely aligned wth the natural environment and ecology in religious texts and contexts. For example, in Tibetan Buddhist and Bon texts (as well as believed by modern Tibetans), serpent spirits known as nagas, who inhabit trees and water sources, are described as warning against the pollution or disturbance of their natural environment, and in addition, often react by inflicting disease requiring Buddhist and Bon appeasement rituals to help restore the natural balance. This panel will explore comparatively the role of animals that predict, warn and are revered in an environmental crisis across diverse religious traditions. Contact: Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan (


Reptilian Matters and Religion in India, Tibet and China

This panel explores the presence of serpents/snakes as agents, collaborators and/or demons in the development of Asian religious traditions of India, Tibet and China. The discussions in this panel draw from literary and visual representations, medical contexts, and ritual. Contact: Ivette Vargas-O’Bryan (, Eric Mortensen (, or Gerrit Lange (

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