This Unit sponsors multidisciplinary conversations that explore intersections between religious and economic modes of social life. Religion and Economy cultivates scholarship that asks how economic systems and orientations have developed through fields of thought, practice, and resistance that come into view through attention to the "religious." Encouraging inquiry that cuts across religious traditions, geographic locations, methods, and historical time periods, this Unit's collaborative explorations not only address and explore capitalist and non-capitalist economic systems but also consider how broader systems of "exchange" produce social relations among varied actors—from humans to spirits to material objects. By interrogating the concepts of religion and economy, this Unit also encourages scholars to consider the stakes of other concepts with ongoing currency in the study of religion, including secularism, spirituality, affect, desire, ritual, agency, value, and subject formation.
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Religion and Economy Unit
Call for Proposals
This Unit welcomes individual papers, paper sessions, and roundtable proposals related to the group's mission. We strongly encourage the submission of pre-arranged sessions, including and especially sessions with innovative formats and modes of presentation. Proposals for individual papers are most likely to be accepted if proposed in relation to one of the themes listed below, due to the higher probability that they might complement other individual submissions. Please note that our Unit typically holds sessions that last 90 minutes.
Successful proposals not only will reflect theoretical and methodological rigor and clarity but also will engage existing scholarship around the study of religion and economy. A successful pre-arranged session also must incorporate gender and racial/ethnic diversity. Diversity of academic rank, theoretical method, and field also are highly encouraged.
Potential themes include but are not limited to the themes listed below, which we present in two categories: ideas proposed by participants in the unit and members of the steering committee, as well as ideas generated in dialogue with other program units. We welcome proposals on these themes, but we also welcome proposals on any other themes that contribute to the Unit’s work or push it in new directions.
Potential Themes Suggested by Religion + Economy Unit Members/Steering Committee
- Beyond Capitalism. Scholarship related to the study of religion and economy often has focused on critiquing capitalist formations and/or tracing their genealogies. Although our Unit values this work, we also invite proposals focused on exploring tools (e.g., theological, practical, intellectual, ritual) for transforming, living otherwise, or designing relations and formations “beyond” capitalism. Recognizing that religious practice and discourse has served as a domain of critical reflection and critique of contemporary capitalism, this panel would highlight research that illustrates how religion has figured in efforts to reform, rethink, and transform contemporary capitalism.
- Keywords in Religion and Economy. We invite proposals that explore keywords in the study of religious and economic life. We are especially interested in keywords that point our attention in new, unexpected, and generative directions.
- Economy and ecology. How has the study of economy and ecology as systems and values contributed to current conditions and future visions? What is the place of religion and its study therein? We especially invite interdisciplinary, field-crossing papers and proposals that consider together analytical, empirical, literary, and other creative approaches to this topic.
- On academia. What does it mean to be in a sector of the economy that is collapsing?
Revisiting classics of the field. Examples include, but are not limited to, revisiting Walter Benjamin’s “Capitalism as Religion” in this, the 100th year since its publication. How, for another example, might we reassess or rewrite Weber’s “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism?” What is a “classic”? What are classics of religion and economy? What needs “revisiting”?
Potential Themes Developed as Potential Co-sponsorships
- Poverty and class (Co-sponsored with the Class, Religion, and Theology Unit). How do poverty and class offer distinctive analytics for the study of religion? What's at stake, conceptually, in using one or the other as an analytical lens? Or what are useful ways of thinking with them together?
- The waged workplace as a religious site (Co-sponsored session with the Class, Religion, and Theology Unit). How does religion transpire in the workplace? How does the workplace seek to form workers in corporate religion? How do workers’ religious identities lead them to shape the workplace? What are the intersections of religion, poverty, and work?
- Racial capitalism, neocolonialism, and racial formation (Co-sponsored with Religion, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism Unit as well as Asian North American Religion, Culture, and Society Unit). In light of more recent scholarship theorizing race in terms of political economy (e.g., Jonathan Tran's Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism, Vivek Chibber's Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital, Iyko Day's Alien Capital, Rey Chow's The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism), we are inviting proposals for a roundtable panel on recent books focusing on religion in relation to neocolonialism, racial capitalism, and/or Asian American racial formation. Potential roundtable sessions should include at least three book authors in conversation, as well as a moderator who would guide the discussion. Books should cohere around some shared themes as well as generate critical discussion that have methodological, analytical, or ethical implications.
- (Co-Sponsored with the Secularism and Secularity Unit) We are interested in papers or panels that develop critical frameworks for responding to digital humanisms and post-humanisms, emergent technological infrastructures, cyber-surveillance, and hacking. How, for example, have these realms of technology inspired new senses of self, reshaped secular governance, or conjured new spirits of capitalism or practices of solidarity? These sessions may take the form of keyword roundtable discussions, or any other engaging format.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Deonnie Moodie, University of Oklahoma1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Bethany Moreton, Dartmouth College1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
Elayne Oliphant, New York University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Devin Singh, Dartmouth College1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Esra Tunc, University of California, Santa Barbara1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Daniel Vaca, Brown University1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027