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Sacred Texts and Ethics Unit

Call for Proposals

The Sacred Texts and Ethics Unit invites proposals from scholars and/or activists that closely analyze the use of sacred and foundational religious texts, including commentaries, in ethical or political discourse (either contemporary or historical). We welcome individual papers and panel proposals from all religious traditions and methodologies, including constructive ethical reflection with a textual basis. Proposals on all topics are welcome. We are particularly interested in the following topics:

● The intersection of danger or death in sacred texts and how we might assess this intersection from the standpoint of ethics. Proposals should consider dangerous moments in confrontation with a deity or other figure in one or more religious traditions. Readings vary on these texts from confrontation to apologetics. We are particularly interested in new reading strategies and the ways in which theologians and other readers advance interpretations related to ethics.

● The relationship between ethics and contemplative reading strategies (and related contemplative practices) across both Eastern and Western religious traditions. Proposals from interreligious perspectives are especially encouraged.

● Following a successful 2019 panel around our perennial call for papers on sacred texts and material culture, we are interested in sponsoring a related session in 2020 on ethics and the production of physical copies of sacred text, We welcome proposals around the following topics:
(a) labor practices connected to the physical production of sacred texts;
(b) natural resources and the production of sacred texts;
(c) sacred texts and global distribution; and
(d) other related topics.

● Sacred texts and material culture, particularly the ethical and political uses of sacred texts as material objects.

● Uses of sacred texts in interreligious contexts or considerations of sacred texts shared or contested by two or more traditions.

● The relationship between different textual genres (narrative, legal, poetry, letters, etc.) and religious ethics.

Statement of Purpose

The Sacred Texts and Ethics Unit invites scholars and activists across the disciplines to critically consider (or re-consider) the complex and enduring role of scriptural and foundational religious texts in the contemporary world as well as historically, and to theorize the roles these texts play in ethical reflection, lived religious practice, and political debate.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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