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Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

For the AAR 2024 in San Diego, we particularly welcome Indigenous paper and panel proposals relating to any of the following topics:


Violence against Nature and Other-than-Human Relatives

Co-sponsored session: Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit, Religion and Ecology Unit, and Native Traditions of the Americas Unit

The examination of Indigenous communal initiatives to undermine any violence against the Lands, waters, and other-than-human beings. Accordingly, and violent responses to non-violent Land and water protection initiatives, with consideration to how Indigenous religious traditions can or have influenced global and dominant discourses related to the rights of Nature and the environment. 

We invite papers that explore how rights language can function as a vehicle for protecting non-human entities ranging from animals to ecosystems; views of Nature, including climate change, water protectors, and the intersections between religion and contemporary movements such as the Rights of Nature Movement and the Non-human Rights Project; and the intersections of Indigenous religions Nature.


African and Indigenous Women Centering Peace from the Margins

Co-sponsored session: Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit and Womens' Caucus

African and Indigenous women, in their varied life experiences, continue to tactfully navigate violence in its multilayered form. They have not only fought from their peripheries but also continue to advocate for nonviolence. Naming these forms of violence embedded structurally and systematically in cultures and religions characterizes the quest of African and Indigenous women be they feminists, theologians, religious or lay. Intersectional approaches and methodologies have been utilized to tease out peaceful and nonviolent strategies that counter multi-varied forms and ills of violence affecting women on the "margins.” Distinct strategies unearthed continue to fuel and sustain women's zeal for peace and nonviolence amongst all-Earth communities.

The purpose of the biographies panel of the women's caucus is to raise the visibility of scholars, leaders and activists on the margins of imperial and kyriarchal institutions and decenter these institutions with knowledge models that face the challenges of today’s world. To this end, the panel invites proposals on distinct African and Indigenous women’s (seers, prophetesses, theologians, and other categories) strategies of naming, navigating, and advocating for peace and nonviolence amongst all-Earth communities. Proposals on this theme might consider the following areas: Freedom fighters, Environmental Justice, Reproductive Bodily Autonomy, Women Ordination and leadership, Inclusive sexual identities, Philosophical epistemologies, Education and Scientific interventions, Animal health, among others.


Sustaining Environmental Change I

Co-sponsored session: Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit, African Diaspora Religions, and Religion and Ecology

This panel asks: in the face of disaster, firestorms, floods, turbulent weather systems, and globalized systems of environmental racism, how do we make sense of climate change, survival of ourselves and the planet, and environmental justice in relation to African/Diaspora cosmology and cultural and spiritual beliefs and ceremonial practices? Environmental Activist Wangari Maathai in her 2004 Nobel Prize Acceptance Lecture in Oslo states: “Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking so that humanity stops threatening its life support system… We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wombs and, in the process, heal our own.  Indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder.” The Yoruba concept of Àṣẹ champions the power of rocks, trees, wind, thunder, waterfalls, and lightning as things, as cipher or orixá constitute the indigenous ecologies that support our lives and culture. Currently, the earth is in an apparent radical transition, resisting and responding to human impact in a myriad of tumultuous ways. Maathai points to Yoruba indigenous culture’s cosmological care for the ecology, which, like many indigenous communities, was disrupted through development projects and colonial encounters. Yet, it is clear that, if we do not collectively alter our ways of being by supporting the futurity of ecology and sustainability the continuation of human and planetary existence, we will evidence greater loss of life, our planetary home, and culture.


Redefining Communities, Borders, and Rights

Co-sponsored session: Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit and Human Rights Unit

We invite proposals that explore redefinitions of communities, borders, religion, and rights, including examinations of how human rights are bound up with colonial borders, and/or how borders and boundaries set by colonial practices rely on violent enforcement toward marginalized and particularly Indigenous communities.


Breaking Stereotypes through Indigenous Media

Indigenous representation in media ranged between 0 and 0.6% before 2020, with creative roles showing no representation. However, a booming interest on Indigenous media makers are challenging this trend in global media towards a more compelling and accurate portrayal of Indigenous life. We invite papers exploring how Indigenous storytelling challenges stereotypes in the media industry today.


Land Back Now!

We invite papers for a session highlighting the concerns of Indigenous rights, the preservation of Indigenous languages and traditions, food sovereignty, rematriation, White supremacist blood and soil ideologies, and any other topics around the restoration of ownership to traditional Indigenous communities. We especially encourage papers that explore the broad perspective of the movement regarding restitution, decoloniality, and protection of traditions, lands, ecosystems, and relations.


Indigenous futurism and settler futures moving beyond violence

We invite papers considering Indigenous futurism and settler futures and how uncovering past violence—such as trauma, religious responses to residential schools, and reparations—can lead towards a more just future.

Method of Submission: PAPERS 

Statement of Purpose

The Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit welcomes any theoretical, methodological, and conceptual proposals in the study of Indigenous religious traditions the world over. We are concerned with the interface of Indigenous religious traditions and modernity, colonial and postcolonial conditions, and local and global forces that shape the practice of Indigenous traditions and their categorizations. Though particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of Indigenous religions, we are primarily grounded in the “history of religions” approach as it concerns the analysis of Indigenous traditions. We also emphasize Indigenous Methodologies among other Humanities and Social Sciences approaches. We strive for increasingly global perspectives with representation of Indigenous Peoples and traditions from all continents. Similarly, we aspire to include other, more-innovative and less conventional modes of scholarship enhancing our inclusion of creative, embodied, virtual, digital, and public-facing work.


Steering Committee Members


Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection