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Religion in Southeast Asia Unit

Call for Proposals

The Religion in Southeast Asia Program Unit at the American Academy of Religion invites proposals for individual papers, paper sessions, and roundtables. For those interested in proposing organized paper sessions, we would encourage you to consider a 90-minute session with pre-circulated papers. (This can be indicated in your panel proposal.)

Rethinking the Center and the Margin (Co-sponsored with Space, Place, and Religion Unit)

This session would consider the way Southeast Asian kingdoms were traditionally designed around a central seat of power. Stanley Tambiah famously called this design “galactic polity” and likened it to the concept of the mandala with its core and its container. Today, Southeast Asian nation-states continue to have significant capitals surrounded by smaller cities and village communities. This session revisits this theory of Southeast Asian political-religious space making to ask how mandala theories continue to illuminate new aspects of Southeast Asian culture and how they obscure other forms of place-making. Where do centers dominate religious place making? Do we find peripheries, marginal spaces, that display religion without reference to a center? How should we understand the ways in which marginal groups assemble their religious spaces? We are interested in ethnographic and historical research on these questions as well as theoretical reflections regarding place-making in Southeast Asia.

Other than this co-sponsorship, we do not have particular topics in mind for 2022, instead we welcome all proposals related to religion in Southeast Asia or Southeast Asian religions in other regions. Continuing our effort to cultivate a greater inclusiveness in the range of topics and participants involved in the Unit’s activities, we will favor submissions from both underrepresented groups and those who have never before presented in this Program Unit.

Statement of Purpose

Situated at the nexus of several civilizational influences—including Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern—Southeast Asia, as a region, remains understudied in terms of its relevance to the theoretical and methodological study of religion. This neglect is in part due to the tendency to reduce Southeast Asian religious systems to the named “world religions” often identified with other regions. As a result, indigenous practices are not viewed in terms of their conceptual and other linkages—and in some cases the dynamic interactions between those practices and the religious practices brought over by different classes of immigrants are frequently overlooked. However, and especially in the last fifteen years, exciting materials addressing different religious cultures in Southeast Asia have emerged. Hitherto, there has been little scholarly conversation at the AAR on Southeast Asia. And, perhaps even less commonly, are Southeast Asian religious cultures (e.g., Buddhist, Islamic, Christian, Hindu, “animist,” Chinese, and Pacific) put into conversation with one another. In light of this need in the field, we strive to provide a context for this conversation as well as to foster critical thinking about Southeast Asia as a region.

Chairs

  • Etin Anwar, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
  • Alexandra Kaloyanides, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
    1/1/2018 - 12/31/2023

Steering Committee Members

Method

PAPERS

Review Process

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