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Ritual Studies Unit

Call for Proposals

The Ritual Studies Unit invites individual papers and full panel proposals from a variety of religious and cultural traditions exploring ritual in various local and transnational contexts. We are interested in sessions that experiment with new formats favoring increased interaction and discussion and we particularly encourage papers/presentations that involve actually doing ritual practices.

This year, we invite individual papers and full panel proposals that explore the animate-inanimate continuum.

On the one hand, we are looking for papers relating to ritualized processes of depersonalization in which human (and other) beings are made to lose attributes of personhood and acquire object-like qualities whose material dimensions are brought to the fore. Such ritually mediated acts of objectification come into play in the disposal of human (and other) remains, including human body composting, but also, for example, in the context of political violence or discrimination, acts of manipulative magic, work-place relations, or hospital care.

On the other hand, we are also interested in papers pertaining to ritualized procedures of animation or personalization in which inanimate entities and phenomena are made to take on features such as intentionality, accountability, emotion, or relationship. Such operations can be found, for example, in certain treatments of catastrophic environmental change, such as wildfires and hurricanes, as well as in responses to catastrophe, in the case of memorials and restoration tools, but also in situations where objects (such as guns, telephones, cars, etc.) are configured as essential components of the humans who handle them.

Additionally, we welcome papers that propose new theoretical resources for ritual studies scholarship or offer new approaches to understanding and utilizing “canonical” ritual theorists. We are particularly interested in the following themes and concepts: magic; becoming genders; and ritual violence, including climate change related violence.

Whenever possible, our sessions will be formatted to encourage interaction and group discussion on the basis of concise, pre-circulated papers of no more than five pages submitted for circulation by October 15, 2022. Because at least 30 minutes of every session will be reserved for discussion, presentation times will vary in accordance with the number of speakers in the session.

Statement of Purpose


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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