This Unit sees its mission as the promotion of the study of Native American religious traditions and thereby the enrichment of the academic study of religion generally, by engaging in discourse about culturally-centered theories and encouraging multiple dialogues at the margins of Western and non-Western cultures and scholarship. The Unit is committed to fostering dialogue involving Native and non-Native voices in the study of North, Central, and South American Native religious traditions and to engaging religious studies scholarship in robust conversation with scholarship on other facets of Native cultures and societies.
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Native Traditions in the Americas Unit
Call for Proposals
We invite individual paper and group proposals on any aspect of Native Traditions in the Americas (North, Central and South). In particular, we invite papers on the following topics:
In light of this year's theme "Religion and Catastrophe" we invite proposals for papers or panels that reflect on the contributions of Native traditions in the Americas to addressing climate change. This might include applied and activist work being done by Indigenous communities or resources to be found within Indigenous traditions for making sense of our present moment and moving forward in restorative justice and healing.
- Religion, Ecocide, and Climate Catastrophe (Co-sponsorship between Native Traditions in the Americas, Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence, Religion, Media, and Culture, Religion and Human Rights, and Religion and Politics, and Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Units)
We invite proposals that investigate how violence and religion intersect in the environmental injustice of climate catastrophe, including increased intensity of weather events, drought, fire, food insecurity, climate refugees, species extinctions and growing global gaps in access to resources needed for life and health. Specifically, we encourage papers that address:
- the “Anthropocene” as the age of climate catastrophe and violence, with focus on the ways in which religious ideas, practices, institutions, and rituals respond to the severe anthropogenic disruptions that distinguish the Anthropocene, and with a view to the differential quality of “the human” in light of environmental injustice.
- The Sixth Mass Extinction as an ongoing event that exemplifies, if not epitomizes, the violence of human-animal relations, human exceptionalism, and attitudes of supremacy, through the lens of religious views and practices, whether as purveyors and/or disruptors of anthropocentrism.
- Indigenous and non-Indigenous resistance to ecocidal violence
- The role of religion in ecocidal violence embedded in the cultures, institutions and practices of militarism, militarization, war and colonialism.
- The role of the study of religion in the time of climate violence, in light of the fact that, as the Presidential theme states, “It seems likely that climate catastrophes—the effects of which are exacerbated by and exacerbate social inequality—will continue to transform the worlds in which we live.”
We also invite papers on the following topics:
- A session in honor of the life and work of Michelene Pesantubbe, including the complex historical engagement between Christianity and Indigenous communities; the role of women in Native American religious life; and Choctaw religious traditions.
- In light of this year's theme of "religion and catastrophe" we note that Indigenous storytellers and visionaries may provide alternative ways of conceptualizing the future. to that end, we invite papers on Indigenous futurism. This might include Indigenous millenarian movements, or alternative conceptions of Indigenous futures as presented in creative work such as contemporary scifi/fantasy/horror novels, films, or role playing games (RPG).
- The fight for Indigenous Peoples Day, and the role of the Indigenous community in Denver in this work.
- (For a possible co-sponsorship with the Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit) 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.
- Reflections on the role of religious and spiritual resources within American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian student success and retention in higher education, including considerations of what it means to decolonize such institutions, particularly in light of the historically violent role that western education has played in Indigenous communities.
- Indigenous methodologies and ontologies within Native American religious studies.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Natalie Avalos, University of Colorado1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Abel Gomez, Syracuse University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Tiffany Hale, Barnard College1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Felicia Lopez, University of California, Merced1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
David Walsh, Gettysburg College1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Michael Zogry, University of Kansas1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025