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Religion and Popular Culture Unit

Call for Proposals

We seek papers on musical theater, movie musicals (including Bollywood), and/or Industrial musicals.

While global income inequality soars, popular culture is crowded with billionaires and bling, conspicuous consumption and prosperity preaching. When are fortunes sanctioned as divine favor, and which are decried as decadence? What are the religious affects, ethics and habits of thought that underly audacious displays of excessive wealth? We invite papers that examine through the lens of religious studies, popular depictions of excessive wealth and/or or theological accounts of capital accumulation. We are especially interested in subject matter based outside of the United States. (co-sponsored by Religion and Economy Unit.

On the 100th Anniversary of the enactment of Prohibition, we seek papers examining the role of alcohol in religion and popular culture. Papers might consider Temperance movements, religious popular culture during American Prohibition, as well as the prohibition of alcohol in other nations, use of religious imagery in the marketing of alcoholic beverages, beer ministries, the manufacture of alcohol by religious groups, alcohol at popular religious festivals, Mardi Gras, etc.

On the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Kent State massacre, and mindful of continuing worldwide protest movements from Hong Kong to Lebanon to Chile, we invite papers that show how popular culture sacralizes protest movements, and how protest movements sacralize pop culture symbolism.

Religion and Popular Culture in Africa, in African societies there is considerable overlap and fluidity between religion and popular culture. Religious language, imagery, symbols and texts often shape, and are shaped by, the products and influences of contemporary mass culture in its various forms. We invite papers that will explore this productive relationship between religion and popular culture in African contexts. (co-sponsored with the African Religions Unit).

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the release of the documentary Paris Is Burning, and the anticipated 3rd season of the FX TV series Pose, the Gay Men and Religion Unit and the Religion and Popular Culture Unit are calling for individual papers or a pre-arranged session on LGBTQ ballroom culture.

How is the current interest in Heathenry being impacted by trends in popular culture and media? In particular we seek papers exploring the influence of television shows such as “The Vikings”, the rise of interest in genealogy and, internet message boards and meme culture, and Marvel. (Co-sponsored with the Contemporary Paganism unit).

Korean Popular Culture and Religion, including:
1. Korean Pop Music (K-pop) and religion, including the religiosity of global K-pop culture, transnational receptions of K-pop in diverse religious settings, intersections of gender, race, religion, and K-pop, etc.
2. Korean cinema and religion, including cinematic representations of Korean religious culture, perspectives on world religions in Korean cinema, role of religion in Korean film production and consumption, etc.
3. Any other papers that address the relationship between Korean Popular Culture and Religion as broadly construed.
(Co-sponsored with the Korean Religions Unit)

The AAR’s Religion and Popular Culture Unit and the SBL’s Bible and Popular Culture Unit invite proposals for a joint session exploring the influence, artistry, and cultural impact of Kanye West. We invite analyses of West (through, for instance, his lyrics/music/albums, videos, religious services, and branding) and his international cultural impact through a range of methodologies, including textual criticism; biblical reception studies; ethnography; ritual and media studies; and other approaches that critically examine West’s use of Bible and biblical/religious imagery and the impact of his oeuvre on contemporary religion and popular culture.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit is dedicated to the scholarly exploration of religious expression in a variety of cultural settings. We encourage a multidisciplinary display of scholarship in our sessions and are committed to taking popular culture seriously as an arena of religious and theological reflection and practice.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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