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Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit

Call for Proposals

1) Indigenous Land Back: We invite papers for a session highlighting the restoration of land, land access, land relationships, and land stewardship to Indigenous communities. We encourage papers that explore not only the return of Indigenous treaty lands, but also lands that are unceded regardless of treaty status. Moreover, we encourage consideration of the spiritual implications of land back movements that occur globally and within urban and diasporic Indigenous populations. Scholars may also consider land back in terms of legal restitution, decolonial land philosophies, and the remaking of land traditions.
2) “After Catastrophe”: The Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit and The Religion and Ecology Unit are co-sponsoring the following:
While environmental catastrophes are often narrated as threats to dominant (i.e., white settler) social orders that need to be maintained, this session explores environmental catastrophe as de- and anti-colonialism. In other words, this session challenges the anxiety of rescuing settler futurity in decolonial projects by focusing on Indigenous scholarship of decolonization. Successful proposals will foreground Indigenous voices not as case studies in victims of catastrophe but as sources for reimagining and reinterpreting the connections between ecological changes and overturning social order as well as the structures and narratives for a decolonial inhabitation of land after catastrophe. Possible themes and questions might include:
o Past catastrophes as present problems: How do the underlying logics of colonial events like residential schools, forced removals, etc. live on in the structures of settler relations to land (property ownership, mobility, community building, gardening/agriculture, environmental protection and conservation, nature recreation, environmental organizations and movements, resource management etc)?
o How do/should religious environmental organizations or movements engage with Indigenous nations or colonialism? Both descriptive and constructive research are welcomed.
o Indigenous futures: what is the current scholarship in Indigenous religious traditions on Indigenous futurity? How does/should this impact how environmental problems and solutions are framed?
o Religious environmental concerns as rescuing settler futurity: How are environmental problems being framed in religious contexts to get practitioners to care about environmental problems, frame environmental issues as religious problems, or use religious traditions as resources for addressing those issues in ways that presume an anxiety about settler futurity? How do Indigenous religious traditions either frame these differently or offer theories and scholarship for critically engaging and changing these frames?
o Indigenous religious traditions and climate change: How have Indigenous nations both narrated and responded to climate change? How is climate change not an issue for a generalized abstract “Anthropocene” but for specific Indigenous communities? What are the responses to particular problems – both in terms of how communities draw on their own resources as well as advocate for themselves in public or political arenas?
3) In light of the presidential theme “Religion and Catastrophe,” we invite papers for a joint session with the Religion and Human Rights Unit and the Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit. This session will focus in particular on:
Exploring how rights language can function as a vehicle for protecting non-human entities ranging from animals to ecosystems.
Exploring intersections between religion and contemporary nonhuman rights movements such as the Rights of Nature Movement and the Nonhuman Rights Project.
Exploring intersections of Indigenous religions and human rights values.
4) Indigenous Media Festivalization, Translation, and Theory
Despite calls for increased Indigenous representation in media, Indigenous media remains severely underrepresented globally. However, 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 including issues of visual sovereignty theories, festivalization, and translation.
5) Indigenous Traditional Medicine and Western Medicine Practices
Proposals exploring Indigenous traditional medicine and their appropriation in Western medicine research and practice. We welcome proposals addressing concerns such as patent registration, research methodologies, and ethical approaches to Indigenous traditional medicine.

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

Review Process Comments

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