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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, yet with particular interest in non-Christian perspectives and underrepresented cultural locations. We especially seek proposals on the following:

  • Madness or hysteria as topics of religious or theological studies. We are most interested in presentations that view these topics in intersectional ways (e.g. black mad studies).
  • Critical engagement of From Inclusion to Justice: Disability, Ministry, and Congregational Leadership by Erin Raffety (Baylor University Press, 2022). Proposals ought to highlight salient lessons Raffety’s text offers churches and other communities about the work their hands should be doing with regard to disability. We seek constructive evaluations or elaborations of Raffety’s arguments.
  • For a possible co-sponsorship with the Religion and Healing Unit, and the Class, Religion and Theology Unit: Care and healing as “the work of our hands.” How might caregiving, care work, and healing be best represented in religious studies scholarship? What current pitfalls or potential surround care and healing as both concrete practices and academic subjects? How has care been politicized or depoliticized in academic discourse pertaining to disability specifically? Who does care labor (paid and unpaid), who pays for its paid forms? How does this economic organization of care labor affect both the receivers and the providers of care labor — and how does this all relate to religious practices or thought, esp. in regards to disability and/or healing?
  • For a possible co-sponsorship with the Religion and Science Fiction Unit: We seek proposals that engage 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 dis/ability in catastrophic situations like a post-apocalyptic world, alien invasion, or a pandemic.
  • For a possible co-sponsorship with the  Religion, Emotion, and Affect Unit: Phenomenologies of “tired.” The particular exhaustions of illness,  impairment, disablement, and debilitations. Ruminations on energy and sleep. Ruminations on stagnation and stuckness. Affective dimensions of crip time.
  • For a possible co-sponsorship with the Christian Spirituality Unit:“A Critical Analysis of how the Lives and Experiences of Persons with Disabilities and/or their Communities Express Spirituality in Distinctive, Constructive, or Liberative ways”
  • For a possible Co-Sponsored Session with Religion and Disability Studies: We invite papers on representations of disability experiences and religion in popular media. We are especially interested in examinations of how the religious backgrounds, commitments, or influences on persons with disabilities have been represented in recent popular media, be it television, film, literature, graphic novels, etc. How are persons with disabilities shown to be active or constructive participants in religious reflection or practice in ways that challenge ableist norms and assumptions? Alternatively, how might popular media offer timely correctives or challenges to current religious thought and practice surrounding disability? 

Statement of Purpose

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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