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Contextualizing the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis Seminar

Call for Proposals

This year’s seminar seeks papers that engage “catastrophe” (and its analogues) as a lens for studying the global dimensions of clergy sexual abuse. Proposals can focus on any region or time period.

The language of catastrophe, crisis, and demise open possibilities for foregrounding survivors’ perspectives while simultaneously shifting us towards a more globalized view of clergy abuse. What new frames appear, for example, when we compare Catholic abuses across multiple continents? And in what ways does catastrophe occlude or distort the dimension of survival, tenacity, and endurance in survivors' experience?

Conversely, such language also frames clergy sex abuse in ways that might restrict academic critique. Are there insights gained by contextualizing religious sexual abuse within broader cultural traumas, such as apartheid or genocide? And does our understanding of clergy abuse as catastrophic prevent us from interpreting legal documents and survivors’ stories in less linear ways?

We seek research exploring the potential and/or limits of catastrophe for the study of clergy sexual abuse, including along the following sub-themes:

  • Insights and problems of framing survivor justice through secular carceral terms
  • Implications to or from theological and theoretical conceptions of justice
  • Theologies and ethics for addressing the everyday and spiritual dimensions of clergy abuse
  • Historical horrors, including invocations of the monstrous and demonic
  • Balancing critical deconstruction with compassion and support for survivors

Accepted proposals will lead to short papers to be pre-circulated to our seminar mailing list one month before the AAR’s next annual meeting (which is currently scheduled to be held in Denver, CO, from November 19 - 22, 2022).

Statement of Purpose


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs and steering committee members at all times