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Critical Approaches to Hip-Hop and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

Brenda’s Got A Baby/A Retrospect for Life 

The Critical Approaches to Hip Hop and Religion section invites papers on the intersection of Hip Hop, religion and reproductive rights.  Given the most current ruling of the Supreme Court (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 2022) on federal abortion protections/access and given larger concerns related to reproductive health/access to reproductive health and rights as it affects communities of color, we invite papers that seek to address these concerns through the lenses of Hip Hop and religion and/or Hip Hop AS religion.  Hip Hop has a pronounced history of addressing reproductive rights (Brenda’s Got a Baby [1991] - Tupac; La Femme Fetal [1993] - Digable Planets in which Roe V. Wade is overturned AND Clarence Thomas votes to overturn it; A Retrospect for Life [1997] - Common f. Lauryn Hill; and Autobiography [2009] - Nikki Manaj, to list a few instances), and given the current context in the US, this intersectional discussion is all the more urgent.


Bring Em’ Out, Bring Em’ Out!  It’s hard to Yell When the Barrels In Your Mouth!

The Critical Approaches to Hip Hop and Religion section invites papers on the intersection of Hip Hop, religion, and violence.  Some attention could be paid to the intersections between Hip Hop and religious violence specifically. 


Afro-Pessimism & A Theology of Nihilism in Hip Hop

The recent comments from Ye (aka Kanye West) and others have drudged up a complex conversation within the Afro-American community regarding race, oppression, human sexuality, & socioeconomic status. We invite papers addressing these areas and also invite non-traditional forms of presentations such as spoken word, MCing, and/ or visual art. This area could also connect with conspiracy theories in and of Hip Hop culture and even a nuance with Black fundamentalists within Christian spaces who view all of Hip Hop as “demonic.”


Religion and Popular Culture/CAHHR Co-Sponsored Panel 

For a potential co-sponsorship with the Religion and Popular Culture Unit, we invite proposals on the intersection of hip-hop cultures, Black Apocalypticism, and the politics of conspiracies. Proposals might touch on, but are not limited to, original analyses of Ye or the Black Hebrew Israelites.


Black Theology and CAHHR Co-Sponsored Panel

We invite papers for a possible co-sponsorship with Black Theology; there are countless intersections of overlap between Black Theology and Hip Hop that can provide a rich discussion. Intersections such as the Nation of Islam & Black hope in Hip Hop culture, the development of Black Millenials & Gen Z within Black religious spaces and the post-soul Hip Hop generation, and Afro-futurism within the lexicon of Kendrick Lamar–to name a few. 


Co-sponsorship with Religion Film & Visual Culture

We also seek proposals, panels, & roundtables with a co-sponsorship with Religion, Film, & Visual Culture with the overlap of Hip Hop and visual culture. In particular, areas dealing with Kyrie Erving, Afro-pessimism, & visualizations of race; Killer Mike’s series on Netflix, Trigger Warning and the rise in Black Preppers, Ye (aka Kanye West) & paranormal psychosis within Hip Hop visual art, Ye & MAGA, or any other topics relating to said themes. 


Possible co-sponsorship Tillich: Issues in Theology, Religion, and Culture 

We seek paper proposals for a cosponsored panel on the contemporary cultural and artistic scene's disclosure of intersections between Paul Tillich and religious sensibilities expressed within Hip-hop. The music of Kendrick Lamar would be a case in point. We invite papers exploring new cartographies in Tillichian thought that center a scholarly use of Hip-hop as a cultural resource for thinking and rethinking through Tillichian theological and methodological approaches in the study of religion. We are especially interested in papers that address the following issues: Hip-hop, culture, and correlation; theology of culture and embodiment; theology and aesthetics; complex subjectivity, estrangement, and the “New Being”; Christian existentialism and the Black radical tradition; racial narcissism and Black existentialism.

Statement of Purpose

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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