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.
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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 healing traditions and practices. Proposals should address the socio-political context of the topic, as well as theoretical and analytical framework(s), such as how this analysis helps us to understand religions, medicine, and healing in new ways. For 2020, we are particularly interested in the following themes:
Paradigms of the body in light of phenomenological theories; and/or case studies to illustrate and shape theories of embodiment. We strongly prefer proposals that clearly feature ethnographic or other methodologically-grounded research data as support of the theories.
RMH and Race: religious dimensions of medical racism; decolonizing religious healing; healing practices that reflect specific cultural/ethnic understandings of the body, healing, and well-being
Multi-faith, multi-religious healing practices; power dynamics of borrowing vs. cultural appropriation of healing; indigenous vs. diasporic approaches to healing; integration of local/indigenous healing rites and Western medical practices
Scholar’s own experiences of medicine and healing as reflected on their scholarship (examples may include analyses similar to Paul Stoller’s 2004 Stranger in the Village of the Sick: A Memoir of Cancer, Sorcery, and Healing)
Pedagogy: approaches, books, and resources for teaching; thinking beyond textbooks; developing religious studies curricula for students planning to enter health professions
Graduate Students 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. Winners of the prize will be honored at the RMH Business Meeting, following the panel at the conference at which they present the paper.
Eligible students must
1) be actively enrolled in a doctoral program pursuing a research topic in any discipline related to Religions, Medicines, and Healing,
2) have had a paper accepted by the RMH Steering Committee for presentation at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the AAR and
3) have indicated when submitting their proposal that they are applying for the award.
To qualify, the full written paper, along with any related images, must be submitted by email and in its entirety no later than October 1, 2020. Applicants should send their paper to the RMH Graduate Student Paper Award Committee (co-chairs Linda Barnes, firstname.lastname@example.org, Emily Wu, email@example.com, and Kyrah Malika Daniels, firstname.lastname@example.org ) along with
1) a link to your student bio on you institution’s official website; or a scan of your student card; or an official letter from your institution;
2) the name of your degree program; and
3) a personal letter verifying that the work is your own.
The Religions, Medicines, and Healing unit is committed to the value of diversity, equity, and social justice in our standards of excellence.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Kyrah Malika Daniels, Boston CollegeMember Since: 2016
Lance D. Laird, Boston UniversityMember Since: 2017
William McGrath, Manhattan CollegeMember Since: 2020
C. Pierce Salguero, Penn State UniversityMember Since: 2016
Kristy Slominski, University of ArizonaMember Since: 2020