The Sacred Texts and Ethics Unit invites scholars and scholar-activists across the disciplines to critically consider (or re-consider) the complex and enduring role of scriptural and foundational religious texts and other media in the contemporary world as well as historically, and to theorize the roles these texts/media play in ethical reflection, lived religious practice, and political debate. We welcome participants engaging all methodologies and religious traditions.
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Sacred Texts and Ethics Unit
Call for Proposals for November Meeting
The Sacred Texts and Ethics Unit invites proposals from scholars and scholar-activists that closely analyze the use of sacred and foundational religious “texts” (broadly conceived)—e.g., scriptures and commentaries, images and rituals, performances and mass media—in ethical or political discourse (contemporary or historical). We welcome individual papers and panel proposals engaging all methodologies and religious traditions—e.g., Abrahamic, African(a), East Asian, South Asian, indigenous traditions, new religious movements—which involve constructive ethical reflection with a textual or media basis.
Proposals on all topics related to sacred texts/media and ethics are welcome. We are particularly interested in the following themes:
From Texts to Media
Sacred texts are typically understood as scriptures and their adjacent literature. But what if we were to expand the notion of sacred texts to include not only written artefacts but also images, rituals, films, and other media. Moving from sacred texts to sacred media opens new questions and analytical possibilities. Accordingly, we invite papers and sessions that help us think through any of the following questions: How is the study of sacred media similar/different to the study of sacred (written) texts? What do scholars gain/lose by expanding the framework of sacred texts to include non-textual media? How do non-textual sacred media shape the ethical self and its responsibilities in unique ways?
(Non)Violence and Hierarchies of Being
This year AAR President Jin Y. Park asks us to take up the theme of Violence, Nonviolence, and the Margin, noting that “the use of violence is directly related to the hierarchical understanding of beings and valuation of their lives.” Yet such hierarchies—e.g., God/human, human/animal, spirit/nature, insider/outsider, sage/disciple—are endemic to many (all?) religions, raising the question of whether non-violence is fully possible in a religious context. Accordingly, we invite papers and sessions that help us think through any of the following questions: How do religious leaders and believers appeal to sacred texts/media to support (non)violence? How is their appeal to sacred texts/media “directly [or indirectly] related to the hierarchical understanding of beings and valuation of their lives”? Does (religious) hierarchy qua hierarchy devalue some lives in favor of others?
The Sacred Texts and Ethics Unit is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Pre-arranged panels should reflect gender and racial/ethnic diversity as well as diversity of field, method, and scholarly rank as appropriate. We especially welcome session proposals and presentations that are comparative, collaborative, and engage the audience dialogically. Finally, we expressly welcome the participation of scholar-activists and scholar-clergy.
Statement of Purpose
Steering Committee Members
Nicholas Andersen, Tufts University1/1/2023 - 12/31/2028
Gloria I-Ling Chien, Gonzaga University1/1/2019 - 12/31/2024
Nathan McGovern, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater1/1/2024 - 12/31/2029
Christopher Yang, Brown University1/1/2024 - 12/31/2029