This Unit sponsors multidisciplinary conversations that explore intersections between religious and economic modes of social life. Building upon and extending scholarship that considers how economic systems and constraints orient religious activity, this Unit 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, including but not limited to the themes described below. We encourage the submission of pre-arranged sessions, including and especially sessions with innovative formats and modes of presentation. 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 encouraged.
The following session themes reflect suggestions from the business meeting at the annual meeting as well as ideas from steering committee members. These suggestions, however, are intended to inspire rather than limit potential submissions.
• Corruption. How does religion impact what is seen as corruption, or not? Related topics might include: corruption outside of North America; the notion of laundering money through religious activity/organizations/concepts; policies that enable or cultivate what might otherwise be seen as corruption (potentially with the Law, Religion, and Culture Unit).
• Informal economies and cryptocurrencies. This might include analyses of technology and finance (e.g., digital currencies). How do religious practices and ideas converge with (support, enable, or somehow resist) forms of economic exchange that escape traditional state control and market mediation? How do local examples of informal economies broaden and expand our understanding of religion and economy?
• Consumption and identity. How are religious identities cultivated through consumption? Papers on this topic might focus—for example—on media consumption (including political media, perhaps in response to the 2020 election) or theoretical critiques of consumption. In collaboration with the Religion and Popular Culture Unit, papers on this topic might also focus on conspicuous consumption, popular depictions of excessive wealth, or theological accounts of capital accumulation (especially outside of the United States).
• Strikes and boycotts. Papers and sessions on this topic might include strikes and boycotts in response to a variety of concerns, including climate extinction. How do political rituals conjure up questions of religion and the religious?
• Entrepreneurship and social authority around the world. Papers on this theme might also examine the study of business and management in business schools. Related topics might include workplace spirituality, servant leadership, conscious capitalism, and capitalist humanitarianism.
• Legal concepts of personhood, including corporate personhood (potentially with the Law, Religion, and Culture Unit)
• Automation and justice. Papers on this theme might examine, for example, the concept of work, Universal Basic Income, and transhumanism.
• Religion between Marx and Foucault. Although Foucault’s interest in the materiality of the body may seem more central to the study of religion than Marx’s perceived economism, the turn to power in social theory may have marginalized important issues of domination and political economy long associated with Marx’s legacy. With this in mind, we invite papers that somehow situate religious studies between Marx and Foucault.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Rebecca Bartel, San Diego State UniversityMember Since: 2017
Kati Curts, Sewanee: The University of the SouthMember Since: 2016
George Gonzalez, City University of New YorkMember Since: 2016
Kathryn Lofton, Yale UniversityMember Since: 2019
Bethany Moreton, Dartmouth CollegeMember Since: 2017
Daromir Rudnyckyj, University of VictoriaMember Since: 2016
Devin Singh, Dartmouth CollegeMember Since: 2019