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Transnational Religious Expression: Between Asia and North America Seminar

Call for Proposals

Power and Politics in Transnational Religious Expressions
Scholarship on transnational religion often focuses on “flows” and mobilities: how individuals, organizations, and movements span borders, circulating religious practices, artifacts, and ideas in formations beyond the nation-state. But, particularly in an era of increasing strictures against international movement and heightened surveillance of borders, what comes into focus when we shift our attention to the material and discursive conditions that permit, shape, or disallow such mobility?

For the fourth year of our seminar, we will critically engage with questions of power and politics in relation to the transnational movement of religious ideas, practices, and adherents between Asia and North America. We encourage participants to consider how power works on multiple scales; its relationship with capitalism and neoliberalism; states and non-state actors such as corporations, NGOs, and international organizations (like the UN, World Bank, etc); invocations of “human rights,” including “religious freedom”; how power interacts with racial and gender formations; how it shapes and is shaped by religious imaginations; how it impacts the transmission and formation of religious practices, ideas, and communities in new arenas and transnational spaces; what happens when practitioners are undocumented or stateless peoples across networks of transnational religious communities; and what ways social justice and activism are employed as ideational responses to imbalances of power.

This is an open call, but we particularly encourage submissions by participants, meaning anyone who has attended one of our first three seminars. Papers will be posted to the AAR website in advance of the annual meeting to provide ample time for discussion among the panelists, the respondent, and audience members.

Please contact the seminar chairs, Holly Gayley ( and Justin Stein ( with any questions.

Statement of Purpose

Our seminar aims to bring together scholars working on different traditions and regions to participate in a sustained conversation about the translation, transmission, and transformation of religious expressions between Asia and North America. We are interested in ideas and practices that exceed institutional, national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries, and use “transnational” to call attention to the boundaries crossed and recrossed—through mediated and contested spaces—between different cultural contexts as religious ideas, technologies, and actors move across the Pacific and around the globe. In this way, “transnational” is meant to be both a descriptor of the complex realities of religious transmission and a promising analytical space to address related processes such as transculturation, adaptation, exploitation, appropriation, (de)territorialization, and glocalization. Many of these processes challenge the ground on which normative national and religious taxonomies depend, and we are interested on sharing theories and approaches less oriented toward reifying discrete traditions and more capable of analyzing the hybridity and fluidity of religious expression in the global age.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

This has worked well so for to ensure a fair ranking of papers by committee members, on the one hand, and to enable the chairs to balance the distribution of traditions and regions represented in the session on the other.