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; how grassroots and social movement organizations approach ideas and practice of human rights; 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.
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Religion and Human Rights Unit
Call for Proposals for November Meeting
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, ecology etc.
Proposals on any topic related to religion and human rights are welcome. In keeping with this year’s presidential theme of Violence, Nonviolence, and the Margin, we are particularly interested in proposals on the following topics:
- The religious logics of nonviolent protest in the U.S. and beyond;
- Relationships between nonviolence and colonialism/dispossession: explorations of the ways in which nonviolent resistance might place actors at an advantage or a disadvantage in relation to regimes that have already dispossessed them of resources and/or rights;
- Dynamics of enforcement of nonviolent protest: explorations of topics like the use of the labels such as “violence” and “terrorism” to restrict nonviolent protest;
- The question of what counts as “violence,” and who decides when this label is used.
- Borders as sites of violence against marginalized communities, and/or sites of nonviolent resistance;
- Violence and marginalization in cases of forced migration, including “survival migration”;
- Climate change and environmental destruction as a type of violence that forces people to move;
- Consideration of human rights of migrants and refugees, including human rights protection of communities who are marginalized and on the move, and whether the contemporary human rights regime remains meaningful in light of contemporary realities of migration
We invite proposals that explore redefinitions of communities, borders, religion, and rights, including examinations of how human rights are bound up with colonial borders, and/or how borders and boundaries set by colonial practices rely on violent enforcement toward marginalized communities.
Human rights and the use of force: we seek proposals addressing the intersection of human rights ideas and institutions, violence, and the use of force, whether by states or non-state actors. Topics might include, but are not limited to:
- Can the use of force be justified by human rights claims, especially claims of marginalized communities?
- What are the limits on the use of force under human rights norms, and can these limits ever truly be observed in practice?
- How do religious perspectives inform local, national, and global ideas and policy about the use of force?
- What can institutions like the United Nations, NGOs, and academic bodies do to protect human rights, especially rights of marginalized communities, in the face of civil war and violent repression worldwide? How do these institutions also reify violence and violate rights?
- Do the principles and concepts that are generally referred to under the umbrella of the just war tradition serve to limit violence and protect human rights? How do religious thinkers and communities engage with the idea of just war, and what does this idea mean in contemporary contexts?
We also invite proposals across a spectrum of human rights topics, including proposals that consider practical, political, religious, theological, and philosophical approaches to human rights ideas and practices. In keeping with the presidential theme, we especially welcome proposals on approaches to human rights from within marginalized social and religious traditions/communities.
In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we also invite proposals that consider the question of whether the idea of human rights still “work,” the status of grassroots human rights activism, and the question of whether human rights regimes can themselves be violent.
Call for Proposals for Online June Meeting
Same as above.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Curtis Hutt, University of Nebraska, Omaha1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
D. Brendan Johnson, Duke University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Seulbin Lee, Vanderbilt University1/1/2024 - 12/31/2029
Kyle Nicholas, University of Virginia1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Miray Philips, University of Minnesota1/1/2022 - 12/31/2027
Christophe D. Ringer, Chicago Theological Seminary1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025