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
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Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit
Call for Proposals
In the 2023 call for papers, the Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit is seeking proposals on the following topics:
- With the presidential theme (La Labor de Nuestras Manos) in mind, we propose a roundtable to continue work begun in the Theory and Method 2.0 offerings from AAR 2019 (Reimagining the Canon, Decolonizing the Field, Reconceiving Shared Space). (Dis)embodied Work: How might theory change by considering the embodied, often uncomfortable, relational labor in ethnographic research that does not make it into published work? What does our work rely on (resources? care?) and how does that shape how we theorize?
- Reflecting on the Legacy: 50 years since the AAR Presidency of Charles H. Long (possible co-sponsorship with the Afro-American Religious History Unit)
- 50 years after God is Red: Contemporary Assessments of Vine Deloria, Jr.
- A Buddhist Prosperity Gospel? Buddhism and Economy
A preplanned (and co-sponsored session with Anthropology of Religion) author meets respondents session on Rebekka King’s The New Heretics: Skepticism, Secularism, and Progressive Christianity (2023) for which we are not seeking proposals.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Judith Ellen Brunton, Harvard University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Richard Callahan, Gonzaga University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
N. Fadeke Castor, Northeastern University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
J. Crosson, University of Texas, Austin1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Roxanne Korpan, University of Toronto1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
David Walker, University of California, Santa Barbara1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025