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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, ecology etc.

 

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

 

  • In light of the presidential theme “Religion and Catastrophe,” we invite papers for a joint session with the Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit, tentatively titled "The Rights of Nature and the Non-Human." Papers in this session might consider:
  • how rights language can function as a vehicle for protecting non-human entities ranging from animals to ecosystems
  • intersections between religion and contemporary nonhuman rights movements such as the Rights of Nature Movement and the Nonhuman Rights Project
  • intersections between Indigenous religions and human rights values.

 

Catastrophe, Apocalypse, and Human Rights (Co-sponsored between Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence, Religion, Media, and Culture, and Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Units)

We seek proposals that address religious thought and practice, and human rights concerns, in these areas:

    • violations of human rights during a catastrophe or “state of emergency,” or the wholesale setting aside of human rights norms in a (real or imagined) catastrophe or state of emergency,
    • representation of apocalyptic or catastrophic settings, often with religious overtones or religiously-inflected, in media and popular culture (film, literature), and depictions of human rights protection (or lack thereof) in such settings,
    • the religious resonances of manufactured or imagined apocalypse, and the call to “defend” a particular group or social order from an apocalyptic threat; examples might include conspiracy theories against immigrant or minority groups, such as the racist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory; and catastrophizing of the actions of oppressed groups in their search for equality, such as the characterization of largely peaceful racial justice protests as “burning down cities.”

 

Religion, Ecocide, and Climate Catastrophe (Co-sponsorship between Native Traditions in the Americas, Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence, Religion, Media, and Culture, Religion and Human Rights, and Religion and Politics, and Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Units)

We invite proposals that investigate how violence and religion intersect in the environmental injustice of climate catastrophe, including increased intensity of weather events, drought, fire, food insecurity, climate refugees, species extinctions and growing global gaps in access to resources needed for life and health. Specifically, we encourage papers that address:

    • the “Anthropocene” as the age of climate catastrophe and violence, with focus on the ways in which religious ideas, practices, institutions, and rituals respond to the severe anthropogenic disruptions that distinguish the Anthropocene, and with a view to the differential quality of “the human” in light of environmental injustice,
    • the Sixth Mass Extinction as an ongoing event that exemplifies, if not epitomizes, the violence of human-animal relations, human exceptionalism, and attitudes of supremacy, through the lens of religious views and practices, whether as purveyors and/or disruptors of anthropocentrism,
    • Indigenous and non-Indigenous resistance to ecocidal violence (possible co-sponsored session with Native Traditions in the Americas Unit and Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit),
    • the role of religion in ecocidal violence embedded in the cultures, institutions and practices of militarism, militarization, war and colonialism,
    • the role of the study of religion in the time of climate violence, in light of the fact that, as the Presidential theme states, “It seems likely that climate catastrophes—the effects of which are exacerbated by and exacerbate social inequality—will continue to transform the worlds in which we live.”

 

  • Social Media, Violence, and Peace Messaging: So much has been examined in relation to social media’s role in transmitting hate and violent religious messaging. Often such bad messaging underpins exclusionary and racialized nationalist rhetoric, and often such hateful transmission is also attributed to religious illiteracy and flattening of identities into soundbites and memes. Is the inverse also correct, namely that “good” tweetable soundbites about religion also flatten religious traditions? We seek proposals that examine constructive and peace-promoting sites where religion participates constructively in social and political mobilization and justice-oriented change. Proposals may focus on any of the topics below or other further areas of relevant research and praxis:
    • religion and mobilization on social media platforms for human rights and democracy,
    • religion and “Counter messaging” and the instrumentalization of “good religion” in the global war on terrorism,
    • hermeneutical religiopolitical subversive work in online platforms and alternative media, 
    • search engines and religious and political illiteracy at a time when all knowledge is googleable,
    • religion and political protest online and offline.

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

PAPERS

Review Process

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