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Daoist Studies Unit

Call for Proposals

The Daoist Studies Unit of the AAR invites proposals for individual papers and paper sessions concerning any aspects of Daoism regardless of time period, geographical area, or methodological and theoretical approach. For the 2020 AAR Annual Meeting in Boston, we welcome proposals for 90-minute paper sessions (3-4 papers, a presider, and a respondent), roundtable, as well as individual papers.

To help with forming paper session, the topics proposed for the 2020 AAR by those who attended the last business meeting are listed below. Please contact the respective point person for more information:
Daoist Bodies and Sensory Religions — Michael Naparstek (
Daoism and Medicine— Julia Mcclenon (
Lived Daoism (as in applied, enacted, practiced, and/or embodied) — Julia Mcclenon (

Several paper sessions in the last two AAR meetings have been widely appreciated by the attendees for their innovation and scholarly contributions. Some of the organizers would like to further explore the topics and/or methodologies and broaden participation. Please contact the organizers if you are interested. These topics include:
Daoism and ritual theory—Tobias Zuern (
Daoist material culture—Gil Raz (
Daoist visual culture—Aaron Reich (

There are also expressed interests in the following topics:
Daoism in Hunan
The Relationship between Early Daoist Philosophy and Religion
Yao Daoism

Any topics not listed here are also welcome.

The DSU strongly supports diversity and inclusivity. Our Unit requires all pre-arranged sessions and session proposals to incorporate a diversity of gender, race/ethnicity, seniority, sub-field, and/or methodology. We hope that you can reach out to others by utilizing resources, such as The Women in the Study of Asian Religions database (

Please consider submitting the proposal to more than one program unit. Co-sponsored paper sessions draw a larger audience and promote dialogue between different fields. Additionally, submitting a proposal to more than one program unit will significantly improve your odds of being accepted. A complete list of AAR program Unit can be found at

Questions about formats and innovative possibilities, as well as help in assembling paper sessions, may be directed to the co-chairs.

Statement of Purpose

The Daoist Studies Unit organizes the most consistent venue in North America for sharing research on the Daoist religion. The DSU is guided by a vision with three main goals: to reach into the vast recesses of the largely unstudied Daoist tradition; to reach out in conversation with the wider American Academy of Religion; and to promote the Annual Meeting of the AAR as an international venue for sharing and vetting research by all levels of Daoism scholars.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

The Daoist Studies Unit conducts a double-blind review. Except for the co-chairs, the members of the steering committee evaluate proposals with no knowledge of the identity of the applicants or the comment and score given to each proposal by their colleagues. It must be noted that it is the practice of the DSU for the leadership to help the applicants with session organization and proposal writing. This practice ensures a steady flow of high-quality proposals and ultimately phenomenal paper sessions.