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Contemplative Studies Unit

Call for Proposals

This year, the Contemplative Studies Unit especially invites proposals addressing the role of different epistemologies relative to Contemplative Studies, comparative or otherwise.  Individual papers could find a home in currently listed panels, especially, comparatively, with Microphenomenology, Imagination, Interrogating gender, or the Anne Klein panel. 

  • A panel in honor of Anne Klein’s scholarly career contributions to Contemplative Studies, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, and Women’s Studies. Discussion will foreground the multiple epistemologies at work in Klein’s publications from Geluk discourse between Sautantrika and Madhyamaka in Knowledge and Liberation (1987) and Knowing, Naming, and Negation(1997) to the situatedness of gender in Meeting the Great Bliss Queen (2008) to the logic of the nonconceptual in Unbounded Wholeness (2006) to epistemologies of perfection in her forthcoming, Being Human and a Buddha Too (2023). Contact Michael Sheehy –
  • Proposals addressing Spirit Medicines (aka psychedelic substances) in relation to contemplative practices both contemporary and traditional and the neuropsychology of altered brain states, for potential co-sponsorship between the Cognitive Science of Religion Unit, Contemplative Studies Unit and Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit. Contact Yuria Celidwen.
  • Exploring microphenomenology and contemplative inquiry—fresh contemplative methods that scientifically and rigorously explore first-person experience. Contact Anne Klein or Niki Clements.
  • Technology, society, and contemplative traditions.  Contact Jacob Sherman.
  • Contemplative practices based on the elements across traditions.  Contact Loriliai Biernacki, Yuria Celidwen, or Michael Sheehy.                                                                                            
  • Imagination and imaginal capacities and practices.  Contact Loriliai Biernacki or Michael Sheehy.
  • Interrogating gender in contemplative practices—those that reify gender concepts vs. those that recontextualize and question gender.  Contact Paula Arai or Yuria Celidwen.
  • Contributions from traditions underrepresented in our previous work:  Eastern Orthodox, Sikh, and Jain tradition practices.

Scholars and Practitioners, continued.  Possible co-sponsorship with the Tantric Studies unit.  Sundari Hurwitt Johansen

      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