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Study of Islam Unit

Call for Proposals

This Unit encourages individual paper, paper session, and roundtable proposals in all areas of Islamic studies. Successful proposals will reflect theoretical and methodological sophistication and engagement with existing scholarship along with innovative examination of Muslim practices, texts, and material culture in diverse contexts and geographies. We encourage the submission of coherent pre-arranged sessions involving multiple scholars, and these could include roundtable or other creative presentation formats.

As an ongoing and explicit requirement of our Unit, a successful pre-arranged session or panel proposal must incorporate gender diversity. Diversity of race and ethnicity, theoretical method, and rank are also highly encouraged and sought.

If your proposal is accepted and you agree to be on the program, we expect you to show up to participate in your session at the Annual Meeting, barring unforeseeable exceptional circumstances. Please note that the Islamic studies program Units have a policy according to which no-shows may be barred from the program for the following year.
For the 2020 meeting in Boston, we are especially interested in paper and/or panel proposals on:

• engaged scholarship, the role of the Islamic studies, and the study of Islam
• nationalism, politics, and the state
• exhibiting, curating, and archiving Islam
• Transnational, Transregional Muslim histories
• local histories and narratives of Muslims in America
• Engagements with Muslim thought/traditions in dialogue with critical theory, methods, and religious studies broadly.
• As always, we welcome submissions dealing with the Qur’an and the Sunna, law, philosophy, theology, mysticism, ritual, gender and sexuality, modernity and globalization, teaching, religious pluralism, and other areas of general interest. Furthermore, we encourage proposals dealing with Shi’ism within and across these areas.

All proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria: a descriptive title; a clearly formulated argument; engagement with secondary literature; articulation of a contribution to the field; and clearly identified methodology and sources.

Further suggestions for AAR proposal writers can be found in Kecia Ali’s “Writing a Successful Annual Meeting Proposal”:

Selected presenters will be notified of their acceptance approximately a month after the PAPERS deadline. Our Unit requires that the full text of their presentation be submitted for pre-circulation among session participants by November 2, 2020.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit is a home for the academic study of Islam within the AAR. This Unit encompasses various approaches and subjects, from Qur’anic studies to modern reform movements and from textual research to sociology. The Unit also has enduring interests in pedagogical issues associated with the teaching of Islam and prioritizes, through two signature sessions, mentoring of early-career scholars. The purpose of the Unit is both to provide a forum for dialogue among differing approaches and projects within Islamic studies and also to provide opportunities for the discussion of work that affects the overall field of the study of religion. We normally meet for five to seven sessions at each Annual Meeting. We often coordinate our work with other Islam-related AAR Program Units, including the Contemporary Islam Unit, the Islam, Gender, Women Unit, the Islamic Mysticism Unit, and the Qur’an Unit.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

Chairs ensure that gender and race/ethnicity are balanced on all panels. This year we reorganized two panels to balance based on gender.