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Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

This year we invite proposals on the following topics:
A possible co-sponsored session with the Religion and Economy Unit on “Sacrifice in the Time of Plague.” One
thing has become clear. The novel coronavirus-19 virus has followed the trajectories of existing geographies of
inequality when travelling through the social body. In this, the pandemic has been amenable to analyses through
ideas of ideology and capitalist abstraction, biopolitics and the precarity of disposable populations, critical race
theory, and the failure to socially mourn poor and legally and culturally disenfranchised persons. We invite paper
proposals from diverse methodological and disciplinary vantage points that somehow analyze the role of sacrifice in
our time of plague.
A possible co-sponsored session with the Secularism and Secularity Unit on “Religion, Secularism, and the
Ontological Turn.” We encourage interdisciplinary proposals that bring together questions of difference and
ontology as they’ve recently been theorized by scholars of affect studies, decolonial and postcolonial theory, and
critical studies of religion and science.
A possible co-sponsorship with the Lesbian-Feminisms Unit that invites papers investigating what lesbian-
feminisms might contribute to ethnographic methodologies, especially when investigating poor, queer subjectivity.
Some examples would include Matt Brim’s 2020 book Poor Queer Studies: Confronting Elitism in the University
and Casey Golomski’s 2020 article "Countermythologies."
A possible co-sponsored session with the Africa Diaspora Religions Unit on “Honoring the Scholarship, Sisterhood,
and Scholastic Legacy of Dianne M. Stewart and Tracey E. Hucks.” Dianne M. Stewart and Tracey E. Hucks are not
only two of the most prominent Africana religious studies scholars, their friendship, their colleague-sisterhood, and
their marasa-ibeji consciousness (Clark 1991) truly embody their transdisciplinary theoretical and methodological
approach to the study of the Africana religious world (Stewart and Hucks 2013, p. 31). Having been informed by
and influenced a range of fields including Womanist and Black theologies, African American religious history,
African religious studies and philosophy, African diaspora religious studies, and history of religions, we invite
papers that examine either collectively and/or comparatively their theoretical and methodological approach to the
study of religion, and their contributions to the field of Africana religious studies more specifically. We also invite
papers and/or creative engagements that explore their scholar-sisterhood and how it not only has informed and
fostered their collaborative research and writing but also how Africana religious practices, theologies, and onto-
epistemologies have potentially influenced their collegiality and their mentorship of proceeding generations in the
"Getting Back to Class: The Practical and Theoretical Poverty of Religious Studies in Dealing with Inequalities"
“Pandemics, Autocracies, Neoliberal Logics, and the End of Ideas: What is the Role of Critical Religious Studies in
a Time of Crises?”
CTDR will also co-host (with Anthropology of Religion) a session on “Critical Terms for the Ethnography of
Religion,” which was postponed from 2020 and for which we do not seek submissions.

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