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Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

This unit invites individual paper, paper session, and roundtable proposals that engage with the concepts of “moral injury.”  Religious scholars, theologians, philosophers, and other humanities scholars have created a substantial body of interdisciplinary literature in the past two decades around moral injury and this unit continues to develop and explore that corpus as well as to encourage and facilitate its growth in new areas, from new perspectives, and through new approaches.


Papers and proposals that explore moral injury in contemporary conflicts, through analyses of particular theological, philosophical, or clinical works, or through the lens of current or recent situations are always welcome.


For the 2024 in-person meeting in San Diego, we are guided by the presidential theme “Violence, Nonviolence and the Margins,” and are thus especially interested in paper and/or panel proposals around three major clusters.


  • As California attempts to reform its infamous San Quentin prison and its statewide system, the effort exposes several aspects of morally injurious experiences that are particular – but perhaps not unique – to systems of incarceration. These may include:
    • The intersections of identities and roles that impact our experience of MI
    • The ways in which systems and structures devour and subsume individual agency in morally injurious ways
    • The militarization of prison policies and the link between veterans and corrections officers
    • The concept of ‘receptive,’ or ‘betrayal-type’ moral injury and structural systems and injustices
  • Judith Herman’s 2023 book Truth and Repair: How Trauma Survivors Envision Justice raises critical questions about what recovery from moral injury, both individually and communally, might look like. We welcome proposals that engage this work through the lens of moral injury, but also those that explore larger themes of social healing from moral injury such as:
    • Reparations for historic wrongs – particularly in the context of slavery and the genocide of indigenous populations - as paths towards justice after moral injury
    • The role of truth and reconciliation commissions in illuminating and naming wrongs
    • Examining attempts at restorative or transformative forms of justice that became morally injurious themselves
  • Moral Injury highlights the difficulty of navigating the dilemmas that arise when we attempt to enact justice, affect recovery, or even care directly for others. Often, for example, those who seek to care for moral injuries have to work for or contend with an institution that may also be a source of MI itself. Thus we invite papers that explore these dilemmas, such as:
    • The idea of complicity in working in religious institutions, academies, militaries, prisons, law enforcement organizations, etc.
    • The tensions that can arise between academic explorations and the experience of practitioners
    • The difficult parsing of agency, responsibility, guilt, accountability, blame and justice in situations of moral injury

Call for Proposals for Online June Meeting

For the 2024 online-only meeting in June, we are particularly interested in paper and/or panel proposals in the area of moral injury and chaplaincy.  Chaplains - serving in military, healthcare, social work, prisons and other contexts – have long been the ‘first responders’ to morally injurious situations.  As such, we invite proposals that explore chaplaincy in categories that might include:

  • The boundaries between clinical and religious discourse in engaging MI

Reflections on lessons we’ve learned since adopting the term

  • The moral trauma of the duty to care for the moral agony of others
  • The navigation of morally fraught scenarios that arise in particular contexts of chaplaincy
  • The role racism plays in the experience of moral injury

Statement of Purpose

The Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Unit engages interdisciplinary study on moral injury, an emerging concept which attempts to engage the impact of making difficult moral choices under extreme conditions, experiencing morally anguishing events or duties, witnessing immoral acts, or behaving in ways that profoundly challenge moral conscience and identity and the values that support them. In examining how understandings of recovery from moral injury might illuminate post-conflict situations in many areas of the world, this unit will interrogate how educating a wider public about moral injury might challenge the role of religion in supporting war and the militarization of international and intra-national conflicts, the effects of war on combatants in post-conflict societies, and more effective means for social support in recovery from moral injury. Contributions are welcome engaging: • Diverse religious, cultural, and social systems and their sacred texts • Neuroscientific approaches to ritual, moral formation, and the moral emotions • Proposed methods for recovery, such as ritual, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, arts, community life, narrative, and interreligious cooperation • The roles of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class, race, and other forms of oppression in relation to personal agency and theories of ethics.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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