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Religion and Human Rights Unit

Call for Proposals

We seek papers that explore the topics of religion and human rights from a breadth of scholarly perspectives. We seek analyses of the way in which particular religious actors and traditions articulate the compatibility or incompatibility of religion and human rights; how human rights serve to complicate or enhance our understanding of categories such as “religion” and “secularity”; and how the intersection of religion and human rights implicates issues of race, gender, law, politics, etc.

Though proposals on any topic related to religion and human rights are welcome, we are particularly interested in proposals on the following topics:

• Human rights and human dignity, especially how these concepts are understood and grounded within different religious traditions and at different moments in history.

Human rights and migration (for a proposed co-sponsored session with Religion and Migration): how religion and human rights function together to address the contemporary immigration crisis, including current debates over whether there is a right to resist or disobey particular immigration laws in the name of religious freedom.

• The deployment of religious ideas and practices in resistance to human rights, including interfaith and multifaith initiatives. One prominent example of this phenomenon is the U.S. State Department’s recent creation of the “Commission on Unalienable Rights,” which is designed to re-examine the foundations of universal human rights in light of particular natural law values proclaimed to rest at the heart of the “American” conception of such rights.

• The making of “spiritual spaces” in the context of human rights activism. Papers may address aspects of spiritual and/or religious activism related to human rights, and especially how religion and/or spirituality is “generated” and understood within activist movements. Examples include the presence of Native American religious ritual and concepts of sacred space during protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, even as appeals were likewise made to land and sovereignty rights, and the complicated relationship of the Black Lives Matter movement to religious organizations and its use of spiritual and religious language, alongside calls for civil and constitutional rights.

Statement of Purpose

The Religion and Human Rights Unit seeks to enhance both scholarly and public conversation around the intersection of religion and human rights ideas and practices. We solicit papers in any area of religion and human rights studies. Topics we engage include: how particular religious actors and traditions articulate the compatibility or incompatibility of religion and human rights; how human rights serve to complicate or enhance our understanding of categories such as “religion” and “secularity”; how religious and human rights approaches address particular cases and social issues; and how the intersection of religion and human rights implicates issues of race, gender, law, politics, etc. We recognize that both human rights and religious ideologies can inspire thought and action that benefits the vulnerable and promotes the common good; at the same time, both can serve the interests of power, oppression, and colonialist hegemony. Thus it is vitally important to evaluate and critique both. Participants in the unit approach these topics, and others, from diverse areas of study, methodologies, and perspectives.

The unit also prioritizes the public understanding of religion in conversation with human rights ideas. Human rights is a much-discussed topic in the media and political circles, yet much public dialogue assumes that religion and human rights are either straightforwardly congruent with each other, or straightforwardly opposed to each other. The unit welcomes papers that critique, nuance, and enhance public understanding of the intersection of religion and human rights.

Chairs

Steering Committee Members

Method

INSPIRE

Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection