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South Asian Religions Unit

Call for Proposals

The Steering Committee of the South Asian Religions (SARI) Unit invites colleagues to submit proposals for the 2022 AAR Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. SARI’s mission is to provide a venue for new research on the many religious cultures, literatures, and histories of South Asia. We have a strong preference for sessions in which the papers cover a range of South Asian traditions, regions, and languages. Some themes already identified as potential papers sessions are listed below—please contact the associated colleagues for details about potential collaborations. Panels and papers are also encouraged that respond to the 2022 AAR Presidential Theme: "Religion and Catastrophe."

The SARI Steering Committee accepts full panel submissions only (i.e. Papers Sessions), with the exception of papers for the New Directions panel (see below). For the 2020 Annual Meeting, SARI has a flexible allotment of panel formats: either one 2.5-hour session, one 2-hour session, and five 90-minute sessions; OR two 2.5-hour sessions, one 2-hour session, and three 90-minute sessions. SARI can also sponsor one additional paper session if it is co-sponsored with another Unit. Please note most SARI panels will be 90-minute and plan your proposals accordingly.

In your proposal, you may specify your preferred panel format (150, 120, or 90 minutes) but the time allotted for accepted panels varies based on the overall programming needs. In the past, 150-minute panels have usually consisted of 6 participants (4 paper presenters, a discussant or respondent, and a presider), and 90-minute panels have consisted of 4 or 5 participants (3 paper presenters, a presider, and perhaps a respondent). However, creative formats are encouraged, such as roundtables, paired papers with no respondent, pre-circulated papers, and so on. If relevant, list any potential co-sponsoring Unit with your proposal. All Papers Session Panel Proposals must be submitted through the PAPERS system on the AAR website.

New Directions Panel 2022:

The SARI Steering Committee accepts individual paper submissions in one category, to provide space for new scholarship in our field. To be eligible, applicants must (1) be ABD doctoral students (or recent graduates) from a Ph.D. program in South Asian religions and (2) never have presented at the national AAR meeting. Accepted panelists will be mentored by a senior colleague with appropriately specialized expertise. To apply, email your proposal (and any other queries) to Bhakti Mamtora ( or Anand Venkatkrishnan (, convenors of the panel for 2022 AND upload your individual paper proposal in the AAR’s PAPERS system, labelled as a "New Directions” submission.


If you are looking for collaborators towards proposing a panel session, please feel free to reach out to colleagues on the SARI listserv (currently RISA-L), to contact the SARI co-chairs for assistance (Sarah Pierce Taylor [] and Jenn Ortegren []), or to email the colleagues listed below if there is a topic that is interesting to you.


Conversion is often a disruptive process that unsettles entrenched patterns of belonging, social hierarchy, and the distribution of social capital. How does the study of conversion illuminate the entanglement of race, religion and nation, or even the production of these constructs in modern and contemporary South Asia?: Deepra Dandekar ( and Eliza Kent (

Statement of Purpose

This Unit’s mission is to provide a venue for new and important research in the many religious cultures, texts, and histories of South Asia. Within the area of South Asia, all world religions exist in unique forms, from religions that originated in India — such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Tantra, and tribal religions — to religions that have taken on longstanding and distinctive forms in South Asia — such as Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The focus of our work is thus on a geographical area, the religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions of that area, and changes that have occurred in those traditions over several millennia. Scholars of South Asia explore the distinctive manifestations of religious traditions in the subcontinent, their interactions, and their movements to and expressions in other parts of the world. This Unit encourages contextualizing religion within debates on a broad array of parallel and intersecting issues, such as (but not limited to) politics, secularism, literature, philology, globalization, modernity, colonialism and postcolonialism, history, society, media, popular culture, material and visual culture, and economics. Our scholarship often emphasizes sessions and papers that look at more than one tradition and thus frequently entail some degree of comparative approach. Our website is We also have a listserv, which is essential to the work of our Unit. Information on joining the listserv can be found on our website.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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