This Unit examines, through systematic study and reflection, the social locations, religious beliefs, and practices of the rich and diverse multicultural backgrounds of Latinas/os in the United States and Canada. The Unit recognizes that this is an interdisciplinary enterprise in view of the cultural and religious roots and sources of Latinos/as, including heritages from Europe, indigenous nations of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. The traditions emerging out of the mixture of these cultures throughout the Americas continue to undergo further development and innovation in the North American context, producing the distinct phenomena of Latino/a theologies and religions. It is this rich and deep religious/theological-cultural-social-political complex that is the focus of this Unit.
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Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society Unit
Call for Proposals
We solicit papers in the following 4 areas of study. Additionally, anyone who wishes to organize a panel on a subject not listed below may contact one or both of the Unit's co-chairs to propose the panel.
● We invite papers for a co-sponsored session with the Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit that connects religion, the Latina/o Americas, and human rights—with particular attention to genocide and genocidal acts. We invite analyses of ways in which governments and religious institutions influence one another in their conceptualizations of and justifications for violence. We are interested in proposals that evaluate Holocaust comparisons and connections. For example: the rhetorical force and practical implications of referring to the Guatemalan genocide as "the silent Holocaust"; debates concerning the description of U.S. border detention centers as "concentration camps"; the 2016 opening of a Holocaust Museum in Guatemala; and the 2018 meeting of the Latin American Network for Education on the Holocaust and Genocide. Additionally, we are particularly interested in papers that attend to the intersections of religion and authoritarianism, human rights, and post-conflict reconciliation and healing. For example: the roles that religious leaders played in the 1996 Guatemalan Peace Accords; the reactions of religious communities to Efrain Rios Montt's genocide and crimes against humanity conviction in 2013; the ritual practices surrounding Ixil Mayan genocide victims, particularly mourning and funerary practices without a body (the disappeared) or an identifiable body (mass graves); the November 2019 lawsuit submitted by Rohingyas and Latin American groups in Argentina under the principle of "universal jurisdiction"; the mass killing of Machupe peoples of Chile in the late 19th-century and their ongoing struggles; the Catholic Church and "Dirty War" of the 1970s and 80s in Argentina; and how Catholics, and increasingly, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, have defended human rights or contributed to coup attempts and human rights abuses in Latin American countries. Papers accepted for this session will be considered by Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal for possible inclusion in a focus issue.
● We invite paper proposals for a co-sponsored session with the Religions in the Latina/o Americas Unit titled, "Tracing Religion in Chicanx/Latinx Studies - Genealogies, Contributions, Interlocutors, Omissions.” This session aims to analyze and assess histories and contemporary trends in the study of religion within the fields of Chicanx and Latinx Studies. Proposals may address the following or related questions: How have contributions from “major figures” and approaches within Chicanx/Latinx Studies shaped the study of religion over the past five decades? What, if any, “schools of thought” have developed in the study of religion within Chicanx/Latinx Studies? What influences and asymmetries exist in engagements between Chicanx/Latinx Studies scholars and scholars doing work in Constructive Theologies? How has Chicanx/Latinx Studies been shaped by the disciplines of theological and religious studies? What are recent trends and emerging approaches to the study of religion within Chicanx/Latinx Studies? What thematic and disciplinary possibilities remain underdeveloped or ignored in the study of religion within Chicanx/Latinx Studies?
● We invite invite papers for a multi-unit sponsored session titled, "The Labor of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Indigenous Racialized Bodies in/and U.S. Religious Traditions." Historical, ethnographic, sociological, theological, and critical theory methods are all welcome. Likely session co-sponsors include Class, Religion, and Theology Unit; Religions in the Latina/o Americas Unit; and Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society Unit. Proposals may address the following or related questions:
- How does the concept of labor, with its multiple connotations of both economic production and social reproduction, offer a useful way to make sense of black, brown, yellow, and indigenous racialized bodies' participation in U.S. religious traditions?
- What distinct kinds of labor have brown, indigenous, yellow, or black racialized people been expected to perform in our own religious communities and/or in predominantly white religious communities?
- How has labor (productive and/or reproductive) been a site for religious expression and/or resistance to oppression by indigenous, yellow, black, or brown racialized bodies?
- How have labor hierarchies and the labor of subordinated racial groups been sacralized?
- How is the religious labor of yellow, black, indigenous or brown racialized people further unequalized by hierarchies of gender and sexuality?
● We invite papers for a session engaging the ways in which social and cultural ecologies of the U.S./México borderlands region and of diaspora communities contribute to and/or challenge scholarship on the field of Religion and Ecology (religious environmentalism and green religion) in the United States, in light of the AAR/SBL 2020 proposed theme that is “more inward-looking and self-reflective.” As we witness increased media coverage of various religious communities of color engaging in water conservation, food sovereignty, and public policy, the question arises: How anti-racism and anti-sexism in environmental movements and religious imaginaries inform the study of religion? What might the study of religion look like if these contexts are seriously engaged as knowledge-producing, and not merely as objects of research? For example, Amanda Baugh in her forthcoming article, “Nepantla Environmentalism: Challenging Dominant Frameworks for Green Religion” (JAAR), has claimed that a focus on Latinx environmentalism “calls attention to the raced and classed biases embedded in dominant understandings of green religion in the United States” and challenges the Enlightenment framework that has “privileged the actions of progressive white activists” who view nature through a Western lens. We invite papers on religion and ecology that engage with race relations and structural racism, and/or with the religious and ecological dimensions of immigration, migration, and asylum.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Wendy Arce, University of San FranciscoMember Since: 2018
Lloyd Barba, Amherst CollegeMember Since: 2018
Jacqueline Hidalgo, Williams CollegeMember Since: 2016
Matilde Moros, Virginia Commonwealth UniversityMember Since: 2015
Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, Methodist Theological School in OhioMember Since: 2020
Grace Vargas, Southern Methodist UniversityMember Since: 2019