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Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit

Call for Proposals

The Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit welcomes paper and/or panel proposals that explore specific intersections of religious and other healing traditions and practices. Proposals should address the social context of the topic, as well as theoretical and analytical frameworks, such as how this analysis helps us to understand religions, medicine, and healing in new ways. For 2022, we welcome any proposal that addresses our goals, and we have a particular interest in the following themes:

 

Fire & Water: Religion, Resilience & Resistance in the face of Natural Disasters (Co-sponsored with African Religions Unit)

Rising sea levels, active volcanoes, surging floods, and raging fires. How do religious communities prepare for the future in a world facing such dire effects of natural disasters and climate change? This call focuses on religion and natural disaster, including attention to how indigenous religious communities have long served as environmental activists and proponents of sustainable living. Without romanticizing the “resilience” of environmental victims in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, this panel will consider the structural accountability of Global North nations in climate disaster and the environmental lessons to be learned from religious communities.

 

Shattered Worlds & Religious World-building: Religion & Migration Crises

Refugees and asylum seekers often flee when their “worlds” are shattered, and they seek to rebuild worlds (and worldviews) in new places; others resist forces of displacement. We invite papers that examine the role of religion in both healing and wounding, shattering and rebuilding, staying and leaving; extending analysis beyond “religious coping strategies” to address collective mental, spiritual, social, structural, and physical healing.

 

Food Insecurity, Water Crises, and Justice

This call considers religious experiences and spiritual crises related to food insecurity, food justice, and water scarcity. Possible questions include: How has systemic oppression manifested through food and water insecurity for marginalized religious communities? How are access to certain food and/or water considered not only as means of sustenance, but also core to religious identity politics? How protection and access to water and food contribute to healing and recovery--not only in healing individual ailments but also collective and intergenerational trauma from structural violence?

 

Religion, Pain Regulation, and the Opioid Crisis (Co-sponsored with Bioethics & Religion Unit)

This call invites proposal on religious intersections with peoples’ regulation of pain, relationships to substance use, and efforts for recovery. Questions might include: how have religions responded to the opioid crisis? How have religious responses to pain been framed as alternatives to pharmaceuticals? How do religious communities’ relationship to cannabis, ayahuasca, or peyote offer therapeutic healing in spiritual crises? How have religious methods for pain regulation intersected with biomedicine, including appropriation? How might we account for the structural and racial inequality in the appropriation of therapeutics developed by religious devotees of color?

 

Mormonism, Medicine, and Healing (Co-sponsored with the Mormon Studies Unit)

This call seeks papers that examine the interrelated themes of both units by exploring medicine and healing in the Mormon tradition (broadly defined) from a variety of methodological approaches and historical eras. We especially appreciate papers that can connect their topics to lived traditions and practices among Mormons, past or present.

 

 

Graduate Student Award

Graduate students are the future of our profession and contribute substantially to the success of the Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit by delivering papers based on original research. Through the RMH Graduate Student Paper Award, we recognize this contribution and encourage outstanding research by students. Papers will be evaluated for their originality, appropriate use of sources, and the quality of writing. Eligible students must

    1. be actively enrolled in a doctoral program and pursuing a research topic in any discipline related to Religions, Medicines, and Healing
    2. have had a paper accepted by the RMH Unit for presentation at the 2022 Annual Meeting
    3. have indicated when submitting their proposal that they are applying for the award. Further instructions will be emailed after proposal acceptance.

The Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit is committed to the value of diversity, equity, and social justice in our standards of excellence. For pre-arranged panels, we especially welcome proposals that reflect diversity of gender, ethnicity, race, field, method, and scholarly rank.

Statement of Purpose

The study of religions, medicines, and healing is a growing field within religious studies that draws on the disciplines and scholarship of history, anthropology (particularly medical anthropology), phenomenology, psychology, sociology, ethnic studies, ritual studies, gender studies, theology, political and economic theory, public health, bioscientific epidemiology, history of science, comparative religion, and other interdisciplinary approaches to interpret meanings assigned to illness, affliction, and suffering; healing, health, and well-being; healing systems and traditions, their interactions, and the factors that influence them; and related topics and issues. As a broad area of inquiry, this field incorporates diverse theoretical orientations and methodological strategies in order to develop theories and methods specific to the study of illness, health, healing, and associated social relations from religious studies perspectives. Although religious texts serve as important resources in this endeavor, so do the many approaches to the study of lived religion, religious embodiment and material culture, and popular expressions of religiosity. Finally, like its sister field of medical anthropology, the field of religions, medicines, and healing encourages examination of how affliction and healing affect social bodies through fractured identities, political divides, structural violence, and colonialism. We support the work of graduate students, religion scholars, scholar-activists, and scholars in allied fields. We promote collaboration with other interdisciplinary Program Units and those focused on particular traditions and/or regions.

Chairs

Steering Committee Members

Method

PAPERS

Other

We aim to make the proposal acceptance process more transparent by encouraging everyone to submit a formal proposal through PAPERS.

Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection