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Religion and Memory Unit

Call for Proposals

This unit provides the opportunity for scholars to engage in conversation about the relationship between religion and memory, broadly conceived. We are interested in examining how religions and memories form and shape each other across broad geographical areas, methodologies, religious traditions, and historical eras. 

This year, we invite papers, panels, and roundtables that explore the following themes: 

  • The Materials of Memory. Following the AAR’s 2023 theme “el trabajo de las manos,” we invite papers that examine the things we make to help make memories. Beyond museums and monuments, memories are documented or made using a variety of hand-crafted personal, domestic, or communal media such as photo albums, home movies, and other artifacts. What do religions make in order to make memories? And what kind of religious identities do these memories cultivate?
  • Key Terms in Religion and Memory. The pandemic and its aftermath have led many to reflect upon the principles that guide the work we do. We therefore seek papers or a structured roundtable on key terms in the study of religion and memory. This can include, but is not limited to, terms such as: nostalgia, heritage, archive, commemoration, etc.  

We also welcome papers, panels, and roundtables on other issues of religion and memory in any time period and any geographic context. 


With the Religion and Cities Unit, we invite papers on Architectures of Absence: Religion, Cities, and Shuttered Places of Worship.

Right now, cities across the globe are experiencing what one observer has called an “epidemic” of church closures as churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship permanently shutter their doors. Shifting patterns in religious affiliation and worship attendance have driven much of this trend, but so too have aging congregations, rising costs of real estate, and other fluctuations accompanying gentrification and the historic preservation of old buildings. In some places, these empty houses of worship have been reimagined as homes, places of business, or the site of new religious communities as churches and synagogues becoming masjids or temples. In other places, they remain abandoned.

This session calls for papers or projects that examine the narratives, histories, transformations, religious reincarnations, or secular afterlives of abandoned places of worship in urban spaces across the globe. What does the repurposing of these spaces tell us about the nature of religion in the modern world? What role does the scholar of religion have in the preservation or transformation of historic places of worship?

Statement of Purpose

This unit considers memory’s role in the making of religions and the ways in which religions make memories. It explores the construction and representation of narratives of the past as memory in relation to religious practices, ideologies, and experiences. We encourage critical reflection on religion in relation to ideas of memory, heritage, and public history. We are interested in examining these topics across broad geographical areas, religious traditions, methodological practices, and historical eras.


  • Christopher Cantwell, Loyola University Chicago
    1/1/2021 - 12/31/2026
  • Rachel Gross, San Francisco State University
    1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024

Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members