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Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

With the 2024 presidential theme (Violence, Non-violence, and the Margin) in mind, the Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit is seeking proposals for individual papers, panels, or roundtables on the following topics:

  • Theorizing religion, violence and conflict
  • Temporalities of violence
  • Typologies of violence (varieties of violence, such as spiritual or symbolic violence, and the work they are doing)
  • What might Critical Theory and theorists (Frankfurt School, Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin, Marcuse, etc.) contribute to discourse on violence and conflict in current times?
  • Revisiting Benjamin’s essay “Towards a Critique of Violence” and Derrida’s work on Benjamin’s notion of “Divine Violence”
  • Harms of scholarship and extractive methods in research

We are also interested in co-sponsoring a panel with the Space, Place, and Religion Unit:

Michel Foucault labeled counter-spaces that influence, contest, mirror, and invert as heterotopias, in contrast to utopias. Even though such places exist in reality, they are at the same time other and outside of mainstream society. Such spaces naturally align with religious practices such as asceticism, mysticism, and eschatology, which all contest authority and orthodoxy, in sacred places such as deserts and mountains. We are seeking contributions on such heterotopias and reflections on its meaning for this panel. Contact: Brooke Schedneck (

    Call for Proposals for Online June Meeting

    We are interested in developing a roundtable discussion (perhaps co-sponsored by the Teaching Religion Unit) for the June online AAR session:

    Teaching through Conflict

    The Teaching Religion Unit and the Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit invite proposals for a roundtable discussion for the June online AAR session on teaching through conflict. Specifically, we invite proposals that wrestle with how critical theory/discourse might be a classroom tool to help navigate conflicts that arise on our campuses due to geopolitics and religious discourse.

    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