This Unit critically and constructively explores how human–Earth relations are shaped by religions, cultures, and understandings of nature and the environment. We are self-consciously inter- and multi-disciplinary and include methods from a variety of social sciences such as those found in the work of theologians, philosophers, religionists, ethicists, scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists, among others. We also strive to be a radically inclusive unit and welcome papers that challenge the dominant Eurocentric environmental discourse while envisioning new conceptual frontiers.
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Religion and Ecology Unit
Call for Proposals
Presidential Theme of Religion, Poverty, and Inequality. The Religion and Ecology Unit seeks individual paper and complete panel proposals relating to a wide range of themes in religion and ecology including proposals that resonate with the 2021 AAR President’s thematic emphasis of “Religion, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures.”
The religious undercurrents that have appeared in the chaos of 2020, especially in light of the AAR’s commitment to public understanding, compels us to examine the meaning and significance of religion within our current social moment. To that end, AAR President Marla Frederick invites all units to “direct our attention toward poverty and inequality, focusing particularly on the social, ideological and textual interpretations of various traditions that help us understand how religion aids, impedes and/or amends our common life.”
The presidential theme raises several important questions for the field of religion and ecology. To that end, we are interested in individual paper or complete panel proposals that address the convergence of religion, ecology, poverty, and inequality. Possible topics could include: environmental degradation and economic collapse, biodiversity loss and impoverishment, responses to the emergence of climate totalitarianism and eco-fascism through imagining regenerative and/or anticipatory futures, and communities and/or activists who are on-the-ground shaping the future.
The Religion and Ecology Unit also is pursuing co-sponsored sessions with other units as follows:
“Religion in the public square and its impact on global climate change.” As a collaboration with the Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Unit, this session would explore the ways in which diverse religious teachings, traditions, and communities both resist and catalyze action in the public square when navigating the complex reality of global climate change.
“Ideologies of 'blood and soil' and white nationalism in recent radical political movements.” We are seeking presentations for a co-sponsored session between the Religion and Ecology Unit and the Pagan Studies Unit related to ideologies of “blood and soil” or white nationalism, as these motifs present engagement with contemporary Paganism and Heathenry. Questions to address might include, but not be limited to:
• For these movements, what is the significance of religious identity, ancestry, and connection to land?
• How are concerns related to authenticity, legitimation, and "imagined community" involved in these narratives?
• What implications does this suggest for developing attachment to place, and bioregional identity in settler and other populations?
Ecowomanism, ecofeminism, and ecofeminismo. Together with the Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society Units, the Religion and Ecology Unit invite papers engaging ecowomanism, ecofeminism, and ecofeminismo from religious, indigenous or theological perspectives. In light of amplifying calls for decolonization, anti-racism, climate justice, and gender justice, it is increasingly clear why we must insist on the intersectional analysis exemplified by ecowomanism, ecofeminism, and ecofeminismo. Proposal might include, but are not limited to, the intersections of gender, race, class, nature, species, and religion. Presentations may address these topics broadly, or they may consider the following questions:
• In what ways have current environmental and climate justice issues challenged ecowomanism, ecofeminism, or ecofeminismo?
• What important contributions have religion, spirituality, or indigenous lifeways made to the development of ecowomanism, ecofeminism, and/or ecofeminismo? Why do commonly expressed accusations of essentialism and/or universalism towards ecofeminism persist?
• What unique insights do these perspectives bring to analyzing and protesting police brutality, colonialism, and/or exploitative extraction?
• What blindspots of exclusion or privilege persist in recent expressions of ecowomanism, ecofeminism, and/or ecofeminismo?
• Proposals that highlight current ground-level movements or important actors, such as Berta Caceres, are especially welcome.
Please note that, while individual paper proposals are given full consideration, we especially appreciate complete panel proposals and panels that offer creative alternatives to the usual format of reading out 4-5 papers.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Kimberly Carfore, University of San Francisco1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Barbara Jane Davy, University of Waterloo1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Christopher Fici, Union Theological Seminary1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Melanie L. Harris, Texas Christian University1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Terra Schwerin Rowe, University of North Texas1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Joseph Wiebe, University of Alberta, Augustana1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025