This Unit’s purpose is to provide a space for interdisciplinary, sustained, scholarly reflection and intellectual advancements at the intersections of religion and hip-hop culture. We believe the Unit will assist religious and theological studies to take more seriously hip-hop culture, while expanding the conversation of hip-hop culture beyond a thin analysis of rap music. To these ends, this Unit is marked by an effort to offer critical reflection on the multiplicity of the cultural practices of hip-hop culture. We also see something of value in advancing the field of religious studies through attention to how hip-hop might inform these various disciplines and methods. Understood in this way, scholarly attention to hip-hop will not transform it into a passive object of the scholar’s gaze; rather, through our attention to hip-hop, it also speaks back to the work of the AAR, offering tools by which to advance theory and method in the field.
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Critical Approaches to Hip-Hop and Religion Unit
Call for Proposals
30 Years On: Assessing and Reassessing the Golden Age of Hip-Hop (1986-1993)
While designations for a supposed “Golden Era” of Hip Hop culture are contested, a timeframe covering roughly the years 1986-1993 (perhaps as far as 1996) is broadly accepted (Dyson, Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip-Hop) as having been a salient period for the development of what comes to be galvanized in the popular imagination as “hip hop culture.” Many hip hop commentators understand this period as the high-water mark for Hip-Hop culture and activism, while others treat the notion of a “Golden Age” as a theoretical fiction. Is the recognition of the rarified air of the Golden Era a reality or is it the product of nostalgia and community memory? Moreover, is there legitimate criticism to be leveled at that era, especially as it relates to being an important bridgepoint to the current era of Hip-Hop Culture? We seek paper and panel proposals that interrogate (as well as celebrate) the Golden Era of Hip-Hop while assessing and addressing the various uses of the past in hip hop and explore the stakes associated with claiming and framing ephemeral moments in/as culture. Some of the possible directions submitters may go involve asking questions related to the Culture’s commitment to social change and social equity? Is one of the legacies of the Golden Era that of the pursuit of financial gain and the gain of social currency, albeit in new and ever-changing forms (social media/followers, etc.)? Of significant interest here would be the intersections of religion, social movements, and social justice as well as explorations of Hip-Hop Culture that might include but move beyond a lyrical analysis.
Author Meets Critics: Jennifer M. Buck’s, Bad and Boujee (Cascade, 2022) (Co-sponsored between the Critical Approaches to Hip-Hop and Religion and the Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Units)
We seek papers that debate and discuss Jennifer M. Buck’s Bad and Boujee (Cascade, 2022). Buck’s text engages with the overlap of black experience, hip-hop music, ethics, and feminism to focus on a subsection known as “trap feminism” and constructs a Trap Feminist Theology. Interacting with concepts of moral agency, resistance, and imagination, Trap Feminist Theology seeks to build an intersectional theology emphasizing women’s agency in their bodies and sexuality while also remaining faithful to the “trap” context from which they are socially located. The publication of this work creates opportunities for fresh engagement with questions pertaining to the intersections of Womanist theology, feminism/feminist theology, economics, Hip Hop, and religion.
We are looking for papers making use of postcolonial theories for an analysis of Religion and Hip-Hop, with a particular interest in Hip-Hop as "diasporic lingua franca" (Fatima El-Tayeb) for dispossessed and marginalized communities and as a tool for de-/anticolonial activism.
We also welcome paper and panel proposals for subjects and discourses not addressed here and encourage those from a non-Western/North American perspective to submit their work.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Charrise Barron, Brown University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Oana Chirila, Lehigh University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Elonda Clay, Vrije University Amsterdam1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Christopher Driscoll, Lehigh University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Erika Gault, University of Arizona1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Monica Miller, Lehigh University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027