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Korean Religions Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

The Korean Religions Unit welcomes proposals for paper sessions, roundtable sessions, and individual papers. Proposals in all areas of Korean Religions will be considered. This year, we especially invite submissions to the subtopics proposed by interested AAR members, as listed below. If you would like to contribute to one of the panel proposals below, please contact the organizer(s) directly, and submit your proposal at least two weeks prior to the AAR submission deadline which will be on February 29, 2024, 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.


Global Korean Buddhism: Transnational and Trans-denominational Change

Organizer: Jonathan Feuer (

Historically, Buddhism on the Korean peninsula was deeply intertwined with the greater East Asian Buddhist tradition, so much so that identifying a “Korean” Buddhism is a problematic task. Since the late 19th century, however, nation-centered histories have distinguished “Korean” Buddhism from other forms of Buddhism, for better or worse. In reality, Korean Buddhism is not monolithic or insular, and, in recent years, the footprint of Korean Buddhist organizations has grown around the world. Buddhist teachings have been adapted to the dynamic, transnational religious landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries. What does Korean Buddhism’s place in the world Buddhist community reveal about the religion? How has the “Koreanness” of Korean Buddhism been retained, reformulated, or challenged when the religion leaves the Korean peninsula? We would especially like to include (but are not limited to) papers that address Buddhist denominations other than the Chogye Order, such as the Ch’ŏnt’ae and T’aego Orders, or more innovative Buddhist groups, such as Wŏn Buddhism.


Marginal Religion in Korea

Organizer: John Grisafi (

“Marginal religion” can refer to any religious movement, tradition, or community—or subset within a religion—that is considered outside of the mainstream or otherwise occupies a precarious status within society or within its religious milieu. The concept includes minority religions, new religious movements (NRMs), foreign religions and immigrant religious communities, minoritized populations within major religions, and other forms of marginalization of or within religion, yet offers a theoretical and methodological lens to understand marginalization and religion in a way that is inclusive of but beyond the scope of these terms. How are religions marginalized in the diverse and complex religious landscape of South Korea? What role does the state play? Is all religion marginalized by the state in North Korea? Are foreign populations in Korea marginalized due to religion? We seek papers that address varying examples of marginal religion in Korea past and present, including but not limited to the examples above, tying in with the 2024 annual meeting’s theme of “Violence, Nonviolence, and the Margins,” to offer novel insights and to generate conversation on the issue and the concept and its importance for Korean religions.


Self-Cultivation in Korean Religions and Beyond

Organizer: Victoria Ten (

The concept and exercise of cultivating the self, whether on the level of emotion and cognition, body and action, community or cosmos, can take divergent forms and direct toward dissimilar goals. These theories and practices often lie at the heart of East Asian religions but are not limited to religious domains. In Korea, mind-body practices based on the cultivation of ki  (氣 life energy) are promoted under the name of ki suryŏn (氣修練). Similar practices worldwide are often considered a part of New Age culture. Recently, ideas have emerged within the scholarly community for conceptualizing various forms of self-cultivation, and the calls for establishing it as a separate field of study, not necessarily subsumed under the rubrics of religion, mysticism, medicine, sports, or arts. To promote such developments, case-studies of self-cultivation are required, comparing different religious concepts and practices of the past and the present. We invite paper proposals on self-cultivation broadly conceived, following traditions perceived as old, newly-invented, or non-traditional in Korea and other places. We hope that in time, such research will help generate methodological and other tools for future evolution of self-cultivation as a concept and discipline.

Any other papers that address the relationship between society, culture, and religion as broadly construed can be submitted directly through the AAR portal. Other inquiries can be directed to Sean Kim, or Liora Sarfati In submitting proposals, please follow the AAR guidelines carefully.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit provides a forum for the scholarly exchange of ideas on the religions of Korea. It addresses all aspects of religions and religious experiences of Korea — past and present and traditional and modern. The Unit investigates Korean religions in all its diversity, including social, cultural, historical, political, and philosophical, giving full weight to the complexity of religious phenomena in Korea. The Unit encourages conversations that compare aspects of Korean religions with those of other religious traditions, as well as theoretical conversations about religion that are grounded in Korean religions. In order to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of Korean religions, the Unit welcomes scholars from both in and outside of Korean religions and fosters a dialogue among scholars from different religious traditions as well as different disciplinary approaches to religions.


Steering Committee Members


Review Process

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