The Political Theology Unit examines the interaction between religious and political thought: how do they influence one another, and how should we respond? Political theology emerged as an area of study through the work of scholars such as Carl Schmitt, who examined the origin of political concepts in Christian theology. The area has also drawn upon theological traditions (Christian, Jewish, and otherwise) in order to reflect constructively upon the way in which politics ought to operate. In recent years, political theology has been taken up by scholars in various disciplines, including philosophy of religion, Biblical studies, Islamic studies, African American religion, sexuality and religion, and elsewhere. This program unit draws upon these diverse approaches in order to explore the contribution of political theology to the study of religion. The Unit aims to expand the conversation about political theology to highlight minority, feminist, and queer voices and to foreground scholars from Jewish, Muslim, and other religious traditions. The goal of the unit is to provide a forum for a diverse group of scholars to explore what political theology means in their own work, how they see the conversation about political theology developing, and how political theology can enrich the study of religion.
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Political Theology Unit
Call for Proposals
Political theology invites submissions in the following three areas:
- Challenging the theory/practice divide by pursuing multiple ways of knowing related to political theology. For example: What does sociology/social life have to do with political theology (often hyper-focused on state power and sovereignty)? How can attention to imaginary and social dimensions of political theology help us understand the emerging force of conspiratorial thinking (e.g. QAnon)? What non-traditional archives are relevant to political theology, especially among marginalized groups (e.g. music, art, performance, and other aesthetic archives with political force)? Why is “theory” so persistently seen as alien to the goals of activism, and need it be so?
- Marx and Specters of Marx (Co-sponsored with the Philosophy of Religion Unit)
- Calvinism, Secularity, and Political Theology (Co-sponsored with the Reformed Theology and History Unit, the Secularity and Secularism Unit and the Political Theology Unit) We are interested in papers that explore Reformed history and theology alongside discursive and institutional secularism. Possible areas of focus could include (but are not limited to): law and sovereignty; reassessing the sociology of predestination; socio-political-biblical narrative; and the influence of Calvinism on thinkers impacted by Calvinism, but who rejected or were not directly associated with Calvinism.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Brandy Daniels, University of Portland1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
Joi Orr, Interdenominational Theological Center1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Elizabeth Phillips, Westcott House1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Inese Radzins, California State University, Stanislaus1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
An Yountae, California State University, Northridge1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members