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Women and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

As one of the oldest and largest units, we operate with a broad mandate to explore “Women and Religion.” In crafting our call, we intentionally create wide possibilities in order to invite individual papers and panel proposals from a variety of religious and cultural traditions, local and transnational contexts, methodologies and areas of research. We encourage the use of alternate and accessible presentation formats.

We are particularly interested in proposals related to one of the following themes:

  1. Women, Genocide, and Native Peoples
    For a Possible quad-sponsorship with the Native Traditions of the Americas Unit, the Women and Religion Unit, the Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide Unit, and the North American Religions Unit, we invite proposals that interrogate the role of both religious history and myth in producing and sustaining Indigenous erasure and genocide. We particularly encourage proposals that consider history and myth of the Mayflower, including commemorations like Mayflower 400, in relation to the destruction of the Native Wampanoag Peoples, and the disruption of the Wampanoag matrilineal line. We also invite proposals that further explore the impact of settler colonialism in and beyond the United States, especially those that analyze religion in relation to the genocide of indigenous peoples from a critical gender studies perspective in the North American context, including North America in relation to other contexts affected by European settler colonialism (i.e., Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands). Proposals that interrogate the widespread killings and disappearance of indigenous women and girls as a form of genocide (e.g., the June 2019 Canadian National Inquiry) are also welcome.

  2. The Women and Religion Unit and the Sikh Studies Unit are seeking papers for a possible co-sponsored session. The co-sponsored session seeks papers that critically engage with diasporic, postcolonial, and transnational theories and/or methodological approaches relating to feminism, women, and gender in religion. We particularly encourage proposals that address i) women’s agency, and the lack thereof, in religious scripture, institutions, and devotional praxis, and ii) social and cultural practices and their discursive frameworks relating feminist and gendered approaches to women. We encourage papers that build on the recent and emerging body of schoalrship in the proposers specific subfield(s) and investigate how feminist knowledge production within and across religious traditions have the potential to subvert and transform hegemonic notions of power including the symbolic, linguistic, political, communal, and interpersonal. What would it look like to reorient our religious institutions, praxis, and identity through a feminist lens that advocates more egalitarian ways of knowing and being?

  3. Women, Religion, and the Environment
    In an era of climate change and environmental uncertainty, we invite proposals on women, religion, and the environment. We welcome the proposals that analyze the impact of climate change through the critical lens of gender intersected with race, class, and sexuality (i.e., ecofeminism, ecowomanism, and environmental racism). How does environmental deterioration disproportionately impact women across the globe? We are also interested in the proposals that engage in women’s religious, theological, and spiritual resources to challenge and change political-economic policies for environmental justice and women’s environmental activism. What alternative visions for ecological justice do women bring?

  4. Women, Religion, and the Formation of Gender Identity.
    Religion is a source of the formation of individual, communal, social, and cultural identities. We invite proposals that critically study how religion shapes the formation of gender identities through text, law, practices, culture, and more. What role would intergenerational dialogues play in the formation of identities positively, negatively, and ambiguously? These questions can be interrogated historically and contextually. The proposals that engage critical gender theories, intersectional feminist theories, and theories of religion are welcome.

  5. Gender, Religion, and Technology.
    In today’s world of technology, digital tools and social media are used to advocate for women’s rights in their respective religious communities, spread women’s perspectives on religion, and to create a virtual community of women. At the same time, these same tools and media have been used to spread hate and forms of gender-based and religious-based violence (eg. sexting, mass shootings). What are the varied impacts of the power of digital tools and social media on women, gender, and religion? What changes will digital tools and social media bring to women’s lives in religious communities beyond national borders?

  6. Women’s Mass Protests
    It has been almost a decade since the Arab Spring sparked many forms of mass movements across the globe. We invite paper proposals that study women’s and LGBTQs’ mass movements for social changes. What role does religion and spirituality play in popular movements led by women and sexually minoritized populations? What alternative knowledge of social change, solidarity, and/or religion/spirituality do these mass movements offer? Those who study social movements intersected with gender, sexuality, and religion in particular contexts across the globe (e.g., Arab Spring, Women’s March in D.C., Hong Kong Protest, Popular Resistance in Palestine, etc.) are encouraged to submit their proposals.

  7. In response to the President’s theme to reflect on our history and our future as scholars of religion, we invite papers that explore the category “women” and how this has changed in religious studies, the larger academy, and women’s solidarity movements. The category of women can be interpreted and exercised in various ways such as women’s intergenerational dialogue, women’s interfaith dialogue, third world women, transgendered women, womanists, feminists, Latinx, etc.

  8. Women, Violence, Trauma, and Healing.
    For decades, scholarship on women and religion have explored various kinds of gender-based violence. As we continue to wrestle with this ongoing reality, what strategies, practices, and possibilities exist to move towards healing? How does the culture of violence, anger, and trauma manifest itself? How do religious communities analyze and respond to gender-based violence? What theories and practices of healing for victims of gender-based violence do religious communities offer? How do or should religious communities try to heal when gender-based violence happens within them?

  9. Juliane Hammer’s Peaceful Families: American Muslim Efforts against Domestic Violence (Princeton University, 2019).
    The author-meets-critics session: Proposals that engage Hammer’s new book will be selected to organize a book panel. Hammer will respond to panelists.

Possible Pre-Arranged Sessions
1. Religion and Presidential Election
The Unit is also exploring the possibility of a roundtable discussion among panelists invited by a diverse group of units to respond to the 2020 US election. [Persons interested in being considered for this panel should contact the Unit's co-chairs.]

  1. Women Leaders
    In response to the AAR Presidential Theme (looking back on AAR), the Women and Religion Unit will organize a panel of women who were the first in their role as leaders in the academy and in higher religious education. The interracial and intergenerational panel will consist of the first co-chairs of the Unit, the women of color presidents of AAR, women presidents of seminaries and divinity schools, and emerging women leaders in higher education. The panel will reflect on their experiences and discuss the future of women’s leadership in the AAR, higher education in religion, and religious organizations.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit seeks to promote inclusivity and excellence in scholarship. We have been intentional about including participants and presenters from interdisciplinary approaches and we encourage nontraditional ways of sharing scholarly work on women in religion. In the process of making selections for Annual Meeting sessions, we work collaboratively with other program units to promote scholarly conversations across fields and methodologies. We are committed to providing an inclusive scholarly environment where new voices can be heard and critical analyses of women, gender and religion can be advanced.


Steering Committee Members





Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

We will continue to keep this method.