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Contemplative Studies Unit

Call for Proposals

• Contemplation and ethics: e.g. compassion and social justice activism; mysticism and morality, or other relevant topics considering why these are important in the study of religion.
• Qualifications and standards in training for teaching contemplation in the classroom—yoga, mindfulness, Buddhist meditation, qigong, etc. What goals do we set for ourselves, for our students? What complementarity or tension might there be between the “practice” and “study” of what we offer?
• Rational and non-rational aspects of contemplative practice within traditions: e.g. lectio divina, Tibetan Buddhist debate, kōan practice, ideally with very specific examples and supporting epistemological structures from the relevant traditions.
• Contemplative dimensions of Ritual—how/what does the “contemplative” add to Ritual Studies in our area(s)?
• Indigenous Contemplative Practices—how do such practices expand the domain of contemplative studies and challenge dominant views of authority in the field?
• Review of Niki Clements, Sites of the Ascetic Self (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020)

Statement of Purpose

This program unit aims to strengthen and develop contemplative studies as an academic field of inquiry, especially in the context of religious studies and the AAR. Our Unit provides a forum for:

• The investigation of contemplative practice and experience, considered inclusively and comprehensively
• Critical discussions on the field itself, including theoretical and interpretive issues
• The application of contemplative practice to academic life and university culture, including the possible contribution of “contemplative pedagogy” to teaching and learning

The Unit thus aims to gather together currently diffused groups as well as dislocated, marginalized, and underrepresented individuals in the academy. To this end, we encourage research that is topical, tradition-specific, comparative, and cross-cultural. We also invite scholars to investigate contemplative practice and experience in ways that traverse and transcend the boundaries of traditions, disciplines, and research methodologies.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection

Review Process Comments

Given our desire to greater racial and ethnic diversity of prospective Steering Committee membership and presenters, the Co-chairs will honor our Unit's commitment to blind review with discretion in the final choice of papers and panels based on knowing a bit more about the authorship of proposals.