The Religion and Disability Studies Unit is committed to maintaining the visibility, viability, and value of the experience and politics of disability as they relate to the study and practice of religion. We promote engagement between disability studies theory and the study of religion, examine the role of disability in lived religious experience and theology, and consider the historical and contemporary role of disability in diverse religious traditions, texts, and cultures. As intersectionality becomes an increasingly critical hermeneutic in the academy, we encourage robust dialogue and collaboration with other program units involved with disciplined reflection on religion.
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Religion and Disability Studies Unit
Call for Proposals
The Religion and Disability Studies Unit invites proposals that critically examine the relationship between disability and religious thought, practice, or history. We welcome papers on all topics, especially from non-Christian perspectives and/or as they relate to this year’s conference theme on Religion and Catastrophe.
We especially seek proposals on the following:
How the lens of disability and religion provides a distinctive and necessary understanding of persistent,disabling conditions at both the international (migration, warfare, creation of refugees, etc.) and interpersonal levels (long COVID, chronic illness, etc.).
Intersections of disability and race, particularly (but not limited to) the role racial, ethnic or cultural perspectives have played in challenging or reforming religious communities with regard to disability issues.
For a possible co-sponsorship with the Arts, Literature, and Religion Unit: Persons with disabilities are often depicted as passive or weak in many socioreligious contexts. Such depictions overlook instances where these persons actively use arts and literature as either forms of religious expression or means of religious experience. This panel will include papers that discuss how the arts and literature of various religious traditions present disability, as well as particular ways in which persons with disabilities utilize arts and literature for religious expression or experience.
For a possible co-sponsorship with the Open and Relational Theologies Unit and the Sacred Texts, Theory, and Theological Construction Unit: Grief, Trauma, and Care in Times of Catastrophe. What distinct insights are available when catastrophic events are experienced and analyzed from within a disability perspective? What kinds of responses to trauma are needed to adequately grieve, mourn, and flourish? How do disability perspectives (from within and without religious communities and their sacred texts) imagine and practice a different world and collective future in which mutual care in vulnerability is possible? Which histories, theologies, cosmologies, or theories of grief and flourishing in times of catastrophe need to be centered?
For a possible co-sponsorship with the Religion and Science Fiction Unit: We seek proposals for a sessio that engages science-fictional imaginings of the dis/abled body in tandem with theories or tropes of religion and/or science fiction. We are receptive to a wide range of critical approaches that engage issues of disability in catastrophic situations like a post-apocalyptic world, alien invasion, or a pandemic.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Sarah Jean Barton, Duke University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Lisa Hancock, Southern Methodist University1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Megan Leverage, Central Michigan University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Rudolph Reyes, University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Bruce Stevens, Charles Sturt University1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Courtney Wilder, Midland University1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023