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Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

CTDR invites proposals on the following topics:

• In recognition of the 80th anniversary of Walter Benjamin’s death, we invite papers that consider Benjamin’s impact on the study of religion, media, and history. We are especially interested in proposals that explore how to teach The Arcades Project in a religious studies course. In any case we expect papers or roundtable proposals that use Benjamin’s work and critically explore the boundaries of its utility, applicability, and teachability.
• ‘Bricolage’ as a key concept in the study of religion.
• The nature of ‘the postcritical.’
• Image and metaphors of rule.
Ethnography Is, Ethnography Ain’t. Inspired by John L. Jackson’s 2012 article, this theme critically engages the definition, practices, and boundaries of ethnography as a research methodology. Of particular interest are the ways in which anthropologists, religious studies scholars, and others mobilize ethnography differently (perhaps, divergently) and integrate ethnography with other methodologies (e.g., archival). Co-sponsorship with Anthropology of Religion Unit.
• For 2020 we also plan on co-sponsoring a session with the Sociology of Religion Unit for which we do not seek proposals: Putting the social back into the sociology of religion (and religious studies in general). Round table featuring Veronique Altglas.

Statement of Purpose

The Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion (CTDR) Unit offers an interdisciplinary and international forum for analytical scholars of religion to engage the intersection of critical theory and methodology with a focus on concrete ethnographic and historical case studies. Critical theory draws on methods employed in the fields of sociology, anthropology, history, literary criticism, and political theory in order to bring into scrutiny all kinds of discourses on religion, spanning from academic to nonacademic and from religious to nonreligious.

This Unit seeks to provide a forum in which scholars of religion from a wide range of disciplines can examine and question their disciplinary presuppositions. The work of this Unit can be placed under three main rubrics:

• Critical investigation of the categories generated and employed by the discourses on religion, such as experience, the sacred, ritual, and the various ‘isms’ that can be found in classic and contemporary studies of religion
• Analysis of new and neglected theorists and works central to the critical study of religion, including those produced in cognate fields such as anthropology, political science, or literary theory
• Theoretically-informed examination of elided and often neglected themes in religious studies, including class, race, gender, violence, legitimation, and the material basis of religion


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members until after final acceptance/rejection