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Religion, Memory, History Unit

Call for Proposals

This unit provides an opportunity for scholars to engage in the intersection of religion and memory and history. We are interested in examining these topics across broad geographical areas, religious traditions, and historical eras. We invite papers, panels, and roundtables on issues that include but are not limited to the following topics:

We invite studies of ghosts and haunting, literal and metaphorical in any time period and any geographic context.

We invite studies of religion, memory, and the state in any time period and any geographic context.

2020 is the 400th anniversary of Plymouth Colony in our host city of Boston. How have religious movements and their memorialization led to new national visions elsewhere across the globe?

2020 is also the 100th anniversary of the first use of the term fundamentalism. Given that the AAR conference theme is on the guild of religious studies, how has the invention of this term haunted the study of religion within and beyond the study of Christianity—and how does it continue to haunt the AAR?

With the Religion and Cities Unit, we invite paper or panel proposals for a potential co-sponsored panel on religion in Boston. We are particularly interested in the history and memories contained and/or evoked by the city's geography and built environment, especially with regard to issues around justice.

With the Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit and the Ritual Studies Unit, we invite proposals for a co-sponsored session on memorializing oppression and resistance. In 2020 a new memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. is due to be unveiled in Boston Common, located at one end of the “Freedom Trail” established in the 1950s along a line of sites associated with American independence and national ideals. It is not the first memorial added to the trail’s narrative, with the New England Holocaust Memorial erected in 1995 close to Faneuil Hall and the site of the Boston Massacre. With an eye to this evolving memorial landscape, we invite proposals that analyze the memorialization of oppression and resistance, with relevant topics including:

• The use of religious symbolism and tradition at memorial locations
• Memorial sites as mediators of sacred and transformative experience
• Memorial sites as centers of pilgrimage and ritual
• The intersections between historical contestation, politics, and religious dimensions of the sites

Statement of Purpose

This unit explores the construction and representation of narratives of the past as memory and history in relation to religious practices, ideologies, and experiences. We encourage critical reflection on religion in relation to ideas of memory, heritage, public history, and historiography. We are interested in examining these topics across broad geographical areas, religious traditions, and historical eras.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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