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, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures.
We especially seek proposals on the following:
- Intersections of disability and race: possible areas to explore include (but are not limited to) neurodiversity, affect and affect theory, religious representations of disability, in particular the role racial, ethnic or cultural perspectives have played in challenging or reforming religious communities with regard to disability issues.
- For a book panel on Christian theology, ethics, and praxis, we invite engagements with Rebecca F. Spurier’s The Disabled Church: Human Difference and the Art of Communal Worship (Fordham University Press, 2019).
- Disability theory or disability experiences bearing on ethical concerns regarding healthcare, COVID-19, genetic therapy and counseling, transhumanism, or any other bioethical issue (for a possible co-sponsored session with the Bioethics and Religion Unit.
- 'Disability' as lens to either interpret or reimagine embodied religious practices, such as meditation, yoga, prayer, dance, or other ritual performances, for a possible co-sponsorship with the Theology and Religious Reflection Unit.
- Disability intersected with gender, sexuality, class, and race as an important tool in analyzing social inequalities. For a possible co-sponsored session with the Women and Religion Unit, we seek presentations exploring theories, experiences, and/or activism at the intersections of disability, gender, sexuality, and race to bear on analysis of poverty and growing inequalities. For example, what kind of disability perspectives are vital for religion scholars to interrogate political economic inequalities? How would intersectional approaches to social inequalities envision a new social order with an emphasis on gender and disability justice?
- The place of 'disability' in educational policy and practice, for a possible co-sponsorship with the Theological Education Committee. Possible topics include Universal Design for Learning, the impact of the American with Disabilities Act across its thirty-year history, or recent developments in pedagogy informed by disability theory or the experiences of persons with disabilities, their families, and instructors.
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
Bruce Stevens, Charles Sturt University1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Courtney Wilder, Midland University1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023