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International Development and Religion Unit, Political Theology Unit, and Religion and the Social Sciences Unit

Call for Proposals

 Religion, Secularity, and Humanitarianism

In his 2012 book Humanitarian Reason, Didier Fassin argues that the lasting presence of religion, specifically Christianity, can be seen in the ascendency of humanitarian values in Western democratic societies. The primacy of “humanitarian reason,” Fassin contends, elevates the redemptive work of individual and state humanitarian actors and virtues of compassion and charity over the political actions, historical struggles, and subjectivities of those Howard Thurman calls the “disinherited.” This form of response to an unequal world order all too often reifies victimhood and dominant power relations, and commodifies/valorizes the suffering of “others.” Inspired by and in dialogue with Fassin’s work, we seek paper proposals that explore:

  • Religious and/or secular (moral) logics of humanitarianism, including but not exclusive to Christianity
  • How humanitarian discourse, ideals, and practices have been mobilized in specific contexts or within international development across space and time
  • Contemporary faith-based or religiously-informed humanitarian movements and responses
  • Relationship between humanitarianism and liberation/decolonial movements (and critiques) 
  • How humanitarian reason (and the valorization of suffering) gets taken up or contested in international development work
  • Affective links between compassion and moral action
  • Political theologies of humanitarianism



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