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Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Unit

Call for Proposals

WOCSTA welcomes submissions of individual presentations, organized panels, and roundtable discussions that are in keeping with the Unit’s purpose. We encourage non-traditional formats that encourage conversation and engagement. Possible topics may include:

  • Abortion and reproductive justice in the present political moment: facilitating opportunities for scholars of religion to learn from activists who are working on the ground, particularly those working in states with restrictive laws
  • Marginalized solidarities (abortion/immigration/violence against persons of color; queer trans community)
  • Decolonizing faith-based practices/ decolonizing institutional practices
  • The fragility of hegemonic subjectivities: how do those with power mobilize narratives of victimhood to consolidate power?  (eg white women’s tears; brahminical fragility) 
  • Self-care; self-compassion, self-generosity, self-love:  how do we imagine embodied pedagogies of care (how do we teach care, how do we bring care into our practice of teaching; how do we address the dissonance between articulated ethics of care that we teach and what we model)


Possible co-sponsored panels:


Honoring bell hooks

To honor the life and work of bell hooks, the Transformative Scholarship and Teaching Unit, Teaching Religion Unit, and Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching, and Activism Unit are seeking proposals on her influence for thinking about and teaching religion. In her book Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks examines education as the practice of freedom and argues for teaching students to transgress oppression. How do we structure our classrooms and our pedagogical strategies to use our power justly? How do we offer liberatory education that is inclusive and empowers students for critical consciousness and action? How might we broadly reimagine educational settings and strategies? Proposals for a demonstration of a teaching strategy are encouraged. 



Possible Co-sponsorship with Religion & Ecology Unit /Religion and Human Rights Unit

Keeping in mind the presidential theme “La Labor de Nuestras Manos” and our meeting location in Texas, we invite papers that consider the following: 

  • Religion and human rights “on the ground”: we seek proposals on the conversation and practice of human rights within grassroots communities, especially in dialogue with religious thought and scholarship of religious studies
  • The co-creation of “sacred spaces” in the community-engaged work of scholars, laborers, and activists; how do practices of rest and resistance foster such spaces?
  • Ecology and resilience: How might faith traditions and practices that emphasize relations with the natural world bolster our capacity to build just and flourishing communities and eco-systems? How does the 'work of our hands' to achieve climate justice bolster our capacity to build just and flourishing communities and ecosystems?
  • Intersectional approaches to climate change and environmental justice. We are especially interested in considering intersectional vulnerabilities; centering survival for people of color and the global South in climate justice efforts.


Engaging Diaspora Religions Through Literature, Storytelling or Archival Narratives

(Co-sponsorship between the African Diaspora Religions, Afro-American Religious History, Womanist Approaches to Religion and Society Unit, African Religions, The Women and Religion Unit, the Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching and Activism) 

Our units propose a panel focused on literature, poetry, orality, and archival sources related to African, African Diaspora, or Afro-American religions. Iconic texts from authors such as Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Gloria Anzaldua, and Gloria Naylor, among others, engage with faith, spirituality, embodiment, ancestrality, mourning, fellowship, borders/border crossings, and other issues, questions, and challenges. We invite papers that explore the power dynamics reflected in such texts, the provenance of the same, and the benefits and challenges of working with these kinds of sources. Do we understand and interpret faith differently depending on whether we rely on oral history or literature?  Do archives permit access to faith?

Statement of Purpose

This Unit fosters intellectual exchange in the fields of religious studies and theology as they are developing in diverse communities of color from a gendered analysis. While the AAR features Program Units from diverse communities of color, we provide a space for conversation between communities of color. This Unit does not assume a prior “women of color” identity, but centers a woman of color analytic that deconstructs the intersecting logics of gender and race. At the same time, we do not hold to a “post-identity” framework and are also concerned with the status of women of color in the academy, the politics of pedagogy, and the relationship between women-of-color-centered activism and scholarship. Understanding identity as performative and shifting, we make the very category of “women of color” itself a site for political and intellectual engagement.


Steering Committee Members





Review Process

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