This Unit’s mission is to provide a venue for new and important research in the many religious cultures, texts, and histories of South Asia. Within the area of South Asia, all world religions exist in unique forms, from religions that originated in India — such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Tantra, and tribal religions — to religions that have taken on longstanding and distinctive forms in South Asia — such as Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The focus of our work is thus on a geographical area, the religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions of that area, and changes that have occurred in those traditions over several millennia. Scholars of South Asia explore the distinctive manifestations of religious traditions in the subcontinent, their interactions, and their movements to and expressions in other parts of the world. This Unit encourages contextualizing religion within debates on a broad array of parallel and intersecting issues, such as (but not limited to) politics, secularism, literature, philology, globalization, modernity, colonialism and postcolonialism, history, society, media, popular culture, material and visual culture, and economics. Our scholarship often emphasizes sessions and papers that look at more than one tradition and thus frequently entail some degree of comparative approach. Our website is https://risa.arizona.edu/. We also have a listserv, which is essential to the work of our Unit. Information on joining the listserv can be found on our website.
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Religion in South Asia Unit
Call for Proposals
The Steering Committee of the Religion in South Asia (RISA) Unit invites colleagues to submit proposals for the 2021 AAR Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. RISA’s mission is to provide a venue for new research on the many religious cultures, literatures, and histories of South Asia. We have a strong preference for sessions in which the papers cover a range of South Asian traditions, regions, and languages. Some themes already identified as potential papers sessions are listed below — please contact the associated colleagues for details about potential collaboration. Panels and papers are also encouraged that respond to the 2020 AAR Presidential Theme: "Religion, Poverty, and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures."
The RISA steering committee accepts full panel submissions only (i.e. Papers Sessions), with the exception of papers for the New Directions panel (see below). For the 2020 Annual Meeting, RISA has a flexible allotment of panel formats: either one 2.5-hour session, one 2-hour session, and five 90-minute sessions; OR two 2.5-hour sessions, one 2-hour session, and three 90-minute sessions. RISA can also sponsor one additional paper session if it is co-sponsored with another Unit. Please note most RISA panels will be 90-minute and plan your proposals accordingly.
In your proposal, you may specify your preferred panel format (150, 120, or 90 minutes) but the time allotted for accepted panels varies based on the overall programming needs. In the past, 150-minute panels have usually consisted of 6 participants (4 paper presenters, a discussant or respondent, and a presider), and 90-minute panels have consisted of 4 or 5 participants (3 paper presenters, a presider, and perhaps a respondent). However, creative formats are encouraged, such as roundtables, paired papers with no respondent, pre-circulated papers, and so on. If relevant, list any potential co-sponsoring Unit with your proposal. All Papers Session Panel Proposals must be submitted through the PAPERS system on the AAR website. We will not be accepting any proposals for the New Directions Panel for 2021.
If you are looking for collaborators towards proposing a panel session, please feel free to reach out to colleagues on the RISA listserv, to contact the RISA co-chairs for assistance (Sarah Pierce Taylor [firstname.lastname@example.org] and Jenn Ortegren [email@example.com]), or to email the colleagues listed below if there is a topic that is interesting to you.
South Asian Religion and Populist Movements
Justin Henry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
South Asian Religions and the Covid-19 Pandemic
Bhakti Mamtora (email@example.com)
Causes, Types, and Cures of Mental Illness in South Asian Religions
Aleksandra Restifo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hate Mail, Toxicity, and the Study of South Asian Religions
Dheepa Sundaram (dheepa.Sundaram@du.edu)
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Arun Brahmbhatt, Saint Lawrence University1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Ayesha Irani, University of Massachusetts, Boston1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Jamal Jones, University of California, Davis1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Bhakti Mamtora, College of Wooster1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Karen Ruffle, University of Toronto1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023
Dheepa Sundaram, University of Denver1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025
Anand Venkatkrishnan, University of Chicago1/1/2020 - 12/31/2025