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Political Theology Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

The Political Theology Unit is seeking proposals related to the following topics.

  • The 2024 U.S. Presidential election: political theological frameworks for understanding the changing dynamics at play over the last 8 years
  • Political Extremism/Radicalism and Conversion for a possible co-sponsored session with Conversion Unit: How do we see political extremism and/or radicalization in the US, the Middle East, or elsewhere differently through the lens of spiritual or religious conversion? How do we see religious conversion differently through the lens of political radicalization? As polarizing processes intensify around the world, we are interested in papers that examine the nexus of the political and the religious through an investigation of radicalization/extremism in diverse historical and geographical contexts.
  • Questions related to violence
    • Violence as a Category for Philosophical Analysis: We invite papers that explore the category of violence in new ways, especially those that do not revolve around or relate to questions of non-violence. Papers might analyze the category of violence in the work of philosophical thinkers, or in theological systems, or in ethical theories of justice, or might explore the role or presence of violence in religious movements or social settings. For a possible co-sponsored session with Philosophy of Religion.
    • How might theodicies serve to mask and marginalize structural violence? (either tacitly or explicitly) “Theodicy” here works as a category for arguments that defend religious or metaphysical claims from contradictions based on events of the actual world. We seek proposals that articulate a theodicy, and then critically analyze how it functions to justify structural conditions such as inequalities, civil violence, xenophobia, political structures, or disparities of health, education, etc. Proposals may work with typical sources (e.g. texts, scriptures) or less-conventional sources (e.g. oral traditions, social media, laws, etc.). For a possible co-sponsored session with Global Critical Philosophies
    • Nuancing the relation of violence to religion and non-violence, moral, and/or pedagogical traditions: Can violence be “faithful”? Is just war theory still normative? Anabaptist traditions and the "force" of quietism; Nonviolent social movements and the "force" of rivalry; nuancing the relationship between violence and “harm,” especially in social and pedagogical settings.

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