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Political Theology Unit

Call for Proposals

For 2020, the Political Theology Unit invites proposals for a panel under the title "Pluralizing Political Theology."
Although the origin of political theology as a modern area of study is often traced to the work of Carl Schmitt, this obscures other sources that inform the field. Alongside (or instead of) Schmitt, a richer genealogy would include theorists such as Rousseau, Kantorowicz, Soelle, and Cone, and it would consider traditions besides Christianity - Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. We seek submissions that reflect this plurality by explaining the importance of a single figure - an artist, activist, author, etc. - for contemporary debates.

We also welcome paper and panel proposals on any topic relating to political theology. In addition, the unit is exploring the possibility of a roundtable discussion among panelists invited by a diverse group of units to respond to the 2020 US election, organized by the Class, Religion and Theology Unit.

We welcome a wide range of methodologies - including philosophy, politics, theology, history, anthropology, etc. - and are particularly interested in submissions that move beyond Christian formulations of political theology.

Statement of Purpose

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

Steering committee members read proposals and rated them without knowledge of the authors’ identities. The co-chairs then selected from the highest-rated submissions in order to create panels that were thematically coherent while representing diversity among the panelists.