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Comparative Studies in Religion Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

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


Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism

Following the 2023 session on Islamophobia, and the recent escalation and intensification of global antisemitism, this session will provide a forum for disseminating historical and contemporary scholarship on these types of hatred and bigotries engendering a comparative and dialogical conversation. (Please contact Roberta Sabbath,  


Self-Cultivation in Religion and Beyond (co-sponsorship with Korean Religions Unit)

The concept and exercise of cultivating the self, whether on the level of emotion and cognition, body and action, community or cosmos, can take divergent forms and direct toward dissimilar goals. These theories and practices often lie at the heart of religion, but are not limited to religious domain. Recently, the ideas have emerged within the scholarly community for conceptualising various forms of self-cultivation, and the calls for establishing it as a separate field of study, not necessarily subsumed under the rubrics of religion, mysticism, medicine, sports or arts. To promote such developments, case studies of self-cultivation are required, comparing different religious and non-religious concepts and practices of the past and the present. We invite paper proposals on self-cultivation broadly conceived, following traditions that might be perceived as old, newly invented, or non-traditional. We hope that in time, such research will help generate methodological and other tools for future evolution of self-cultivation as a concept and discipline. (Please contact Victoria Ten,


“Translatability” of Religions

How are religious systems “translated” into new cultural settings? Under what conditions are religious practices “translated” into cultures, and under what circumstances might they “resist” change? This call seeks proposals for comparisons regarding how religions adapt to or otherwise confront new cultural settings. (Please contact Tom Seat,


Disability and Religious Diversity

The conceptualization of “ablebodiedness” or “disabilities” often shifts between different cultural contexts. This panel seeks to compare how these concepts are portrayed in different texts, rituals, and traditions. In doing so, it explores how “disabilities” may function as a comparative category in the study of religion. (Please contact David Schones,


Serpents, Dragons, and Eagles Narratives: Religious Convergence or Competition? 

The nagas, Indian mythological serpent beings, and their Tibetan and Chinese (lu, jiao, and long), often appear in stories, performances and images about their eternal conflict with the Garuda birds.  On the other hand, the Hindu god Vishnu, the Buddha, and the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara act as mediators in this conflict, bringing both sides together. This panel will explore how these non-human figures reflect religious convergence and conflict in Asia. (Please contact Gerrit Lange,; and Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan,


Comparative Pluralisms 

Not all pluralistic societies are the same. This panel will compare different models and expressions of religious pluralism from any historical time period or geographic region using any appropriate disciplinary methods or approaches. Papers with individual case studies should highlight their potential for a comparative discussion. (Please contact Eric Huntington,


Roundtable: Comparison, Empathy, and Second-Order Reflection in Postsecondary RLST Pedagogy

How can we use the tools of disciplined comparison to make our courses more effective, engaging, and meaningful to contemporary students? This roundtable will consider ways that comparison can be used to provide focused, meaningful learning experiences in response to the challenges posed by AI chatbots, student disaffection, and the ever-increasing corporatization of post-secondary education. (Please contact Chris Jensen,

Call for Proposals for Online June Meeting

Disability, Narrative Prosthesis, and Religious Narrative - Comparative Reflections

This panel will explore the cross-cultural utility and applicability of Mitchell and Snyder's influential notion of "narrative prosthesis" (which considers the ways that mainstream culture employs Othered imaginings of disabled bodies). Papers should engage substantively with Mitchell and Snyder (and/or their inheritors), applying the theory to the particular narrative sources they study. The discussant, and subsequent discussion, will focus on the rectification of this category. (Please contact Chris Jensen,

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



Review Process

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