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North American Religions Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

This Unit advances the study of religions in North America, broadly conceived (Mexico, the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, etc.), as well as the study of historical, social, and structural links between North American religions and those beyond North American boundaries. We are committed to sponsoring sessions that explore fundamental questions that have shaped the field in the past or should shape it in the future.


The Unit sponsors roundtables, debates, workshops, performances, pre-circulated papers, and other creative formats. As always, this program unit also welcomes proposals for keyword panels based on important concepts in the field. We encourage the submission of both individual contributions and complete panels, though we may reconfigure proposed panels to place them on the conference program. For panel proposals, diversity of rank (including graduate student, post-doctorate, contingent faculty, and junior and senior participants), and gender, race, and ethnicity are strongly encouraged. We especially seek proposals from junior and contingent scholars. Presenters in any format should expect to give short presentations that maximize time for audience questions and comments. All presenters should explicitly relate research to ongoing discussions in the field and the wider academy. Please ensure that all submissions are anonymous.


In addition to the above, we seek proposals on the following topics for our 2024 meeting in San Diego:


  • In keeping with the presidential theme of Violence, Non-violence, and the Margins, we welcome papers and panels that think about religion and war, religion and both violent and non-violent protest movements, religious responses to trauma, religious pacifism, and religion and violence more broadly (including gender based violence, sexual violence, and others)
  • We are interested in scholarship that considers the role of the scholar of North American religions in times of crisis. We are interested in proposals addressing scholarship and pedagogy in specific contexts (teaching in Florida or other settings where critical engagement with race, gender, and sexuality are under attack), teaching in the face of broader crisis (the climate crisis, the crisis in reproductive health, attacks on bodily autonomy of a wide range of people). We are interested in the exploration of the risks that scholars take, the cost benefit analysis that they make in deciding when to speak and what to teach, and how people care for themselves in the face of those risks.
  • In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Immigration Act of 1924 (also known as the Johnson-Reed Act) and the conference’s location in San Diego (home of both Friendship Park and a border wall), we invite papers and panels that think about the intersections of immigration and religion, in both contemporary and historical contexts. Our location in California offers a particularly useful opportunity to consider migration in relation to Asia and the Americas.
  • We encourage proposals that mark the anniversaries of other notable events in the religious history of North America, or the anniversaries of major historiographical interventions.
  • We welcome papers and panels outside of the themes above and encourage scholars at all levels to submit work reflecting their ongoing research, whether or not it is reflected in this call.

Statement of Purpose

Purpose, Practices & Procedures: Purpose of an AAR Program unit: The purpose of program units is twofold: to provide a forum for dialogue and exchange among differing approaches and projects in the field and to provide opportunities for the discussion of work that does not fall within the agendas that find other expressions in the Annual Meeting program. Program units should provide significant time for presenting research in the major subfields of religion. Purpose of the North American Religions Program unit: The North American Religions Program unit exists to sponsor conversations about the field at thematic, theoretical, definitional, experimental or historiographical levels, in order to ask where the study of North American religions is going or should be going. Such conversations embrace the diversity of scholars, disciplines, methods and traditions that make up the field. Routine functions: The Steering Committee composes the Call for Papers for NAR sessions for the AAR Annual Meeting; reviews, shapes and accepts proposals for those sessions; reviews and reports on sessions; and communicates with the NAR constituency. Composition: The Steering Committee is made up of ten members, two of whom are elected by the members to serve as co-chairs. A Steering Committee term is three years, renewable for a second three years if everyone is amenable. The terms are staggered, so that there are continuity and change on the committee. During a total of six possible years, a member might serve a co-chair term, which is three years. A member elected to serve as co-chair has at least one full year’s experience on the Steering Committee. The co-chair elections are staggered as well, so that each new co-chair serves with an experienced co-chair. Responsibilities: The co-chairs take care of the business of NAR and moderate communication of the Steering Committee. All members of the Steering Committee make decisions on substantive matters. All attend the Annual Meeting and reserve Friday dinner for Steering Committee socializing, envisioning and business. All attend the NAR Business Meeting. Succession: Members of the Steering Committee are replaced by the following procedure: when there is a vacancy, after the Annual Meeting the co-chairs ask the NAR constituency (via email) for nominations. From among the nominees, the Steering Committee votes to elect a new member. The co-chairs maintain this “NAR Purpose, Practices & Procedures” document, make it available to the Steering Committee and the NAR constituency, and revise it as needed by vote of the Steering Committee.


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