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Religious Conversions Unit

Call for Proposals

Individual paper or full paper/panel session proposals (with a preference for the latter) are welcome on any topic related to religious conversion, including, but not limited to the following panel topics in which the Religious Conversions Unit is particularly interested in featuring this year:

Migration, Borders, Walls, and Conversion - conversion issues surrounding migration, open vs. closed borders, etc. (Edith Szanto,

Conversion and Deconversion across the Globe: The growth of Christianity in the Global South raises questions concerning the nature of conversion: How has global migration impacted the phenomenon of conversion itself, both individually and socially? Is conversion re-construed when a religion’s adherents migrate? Does conversion then admit, for example, the possibility of Multiple Religious Participation? How does conversion en masse affect the social fabric of communities? The Religious Conversions Program Unit and Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Theologies Program Unit invite proposals focusing on the phenomenon of conversion in light of globalization and migration. We especially welcome proposals engaging multiple disciplinary approaches. (for a possible co-sponsored session with the Martin Luther and Global Lutheran Theologies Program Unit )

Rambo Reconsidered - Defining and theorizing religious conversion (Athanasios Despotis,

Conversion and Climate Change - could include religious conversion, properly speaking, but also conversion to and from climate change acceptance or denial; climate change and apocalypticism; and a number of other related topics (Linda Mercadante, and Eliza Kent,

"Conversion," "Call," or Something Else: Revisiting What Happened to Paul on the Road to Damascus - This is for a possible co-sponsorship with the Society of Biblical Literature's Biblical Exegesis from Eastern Orthodox Perspectives program Unit (Athanasios Despotis,

Conversion and Political Extremism - correlations and/or causation in simultaneous changes of religious and political extremist conversions; Trump supporters and religion; interplay of religion and politics in abrupt shifts in support for particular extremist political figures, etc. Alexander Hwang,

Conversion and the Demise of the Nation-State (Michael McLaughlin,
The person whose name is listed in parentheses has expressed an interest in organizing the panel so please contact them if you have questions or are interested in presenting in such a session.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit studies the full spectrum of issues related to religious conversions, in any historical or geographic context, encompassing different forms of religious belief and practice. The scope of the issues we cover is broad and wide-ranging. We consider investigations into the reasons for various types of religious conversions including, but not limited to intellectual, theological, philosophical, historical, experiential, psychological, social, cultural, political, and economic causes. We also study the consequences of religious conversions, both individually and socially, and their implications. We encourage the methodologies of multiple disciplines, as well as interdisciplinary approaches. More narrowly focused areas of inquiry suggested by interested scholars include, but are not limited to the following:

• Multiple conversions
• Group and individual conversions
• Forced conversions
• The narrative and/or literary aspects of conversions
• Hybridity
• Ecclesiological consequences of conversion
• The place and role of conversion in a specific religious tradition
• Theories of conversions
• Formulas of religious conversion (as step-by-step processes)


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs and steering committee members at all times

Review Process Comments

Blind review seems to be best and still works well for us.