January 29 2020

2017 Mid-Atlantic Region Call for Papers

Map of the AAR Mid-Atlantic Region

2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting

Hyatt Regency
2 Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Undergraduate Symposium: March 15, 2017
Conference: March 16–17, 2017

2017 Call for Papers

Conference Theme: The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals?

Proposal Deadline: December 16, 2016

The 2017 annual conference theme of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Academy of Religion (MAR-AAR) builds on the 2016 conference theme, Why We are Here: Aims and Practices in Religious and Theological Scholarship Today. During the 2016 conference, we explored key questions that reflected on risky pedagogical practices and the goals of religious and theological scholarship. The Colloquium Speaker Series on Teaching and Learning in the Religious Studies Learning Space provided ample opportunity for professors to gather together to think about the connections between teaching and learning. In addition, undergraduates had the chance to engage in scholarship throughout the entire conference program as they thought about an existentialist purpose.

With the 2016 conference theme as a point of departure, the 2017 conference theme aims to continue the discussion, as we extend beyond our position in higher education and into the public sphere at large. This broad theme explores our role as public intellectuals involved in religious and theological scholarship today.

First, we must ask, what is a public intellectual? Once we have a working framework of what a public intellectual is, we may explore a few questions of concern. How do public intellectuals construct knowledge in religious and theological scholarship? What is the link between public intellectuals of higher education and their role in society? Does higher education have a responsibility to endorse public intellectualism for scholars to engage in teaching and learning despite the “business model” that many campuses engage in?

Sections of the MAR-AAR will address the conference theme based on scholarship within their discipline. We welcome opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration as we think about our individual and collective role as public intellectuals who are a part of society at large.

Proposal Submission

Submissions, unless otherwise stated in a modified Section’s Call for Papers below, should include the following information:

  • Name
  • Institutional Affiliation
  •  E-mail Address
  • 150-word Abstract
  • 500-word Proposal
  • Please review the various sections accepting proposal guidelines below. Submit by e-mail attachment to the chair and cochairs identified in the section to which you are submitting. Members may only submit one proposal to a section, for a total of two proposals. The submission deadline is December 16, 2016. You will receive notification regarding the status of your proposal by January 17, 2017. If you have questions about which section to submit to or need additional information about submitting a proposal, please contact the MAR-AAR Vice President/President-Elect, Christopher Fici, at clf2138@utsnyc.edu


Please consider submitting your proposal for one of the following awards if your paper is eligible.

Submit to ALL:

Kate Connolly-Weinert Prize of $200 goes to the most innovative proposal for a group session (or panel) dealing with peace issues or women's studies; the deadline for submission is December 16, 2016. You must indicate in your proposal submission if you’d like to be considered for this award.

To help foster graduate student participation, the Executive Committee of the MAR-AAR will again award the Robert F. Streetman Prize of $200 for the best student paper presented by an AAR regional member. Those interested in the Streetman Prize should submit their entire paper by December 16, 2016, and clearly indicate that they are submitting the paper for prize consideration.

Undergraduate Section

This section offers current undergraduates the opportunity to present recent work or work in progress in the field of religious studies or theology. Especially encouraged are submissions that relate closely to this year’s conference theme on The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals? To build on this year's conference theme, undergraduate papers could explore the following questions:

What should undergraduates consider in terms of a responsibility to the community and society when choosing a major or minor?

What is the responsibility of undergraduates in the public sphere upon graduation?

Papers should maintain a focus on why the study of religion or theology is valuable in the public and/or private sphere. Conferences are a crucial part of graduate life in academia. Thus, MAR-AAR urges all undergraduates interested in graduate school or seminary to submit to this section. Undergraduates will have the chance to meet graduate students and seasoned religious studies and theology professors who will offer substantial feedback to help undergraduates move forward in academia.

Submissions should include the following information:

  • Name
  • Undergraduate Institution
  • Advisor (or a professor whom you see as a mentor)
  • E-mail Address
  • 250-word abstract

Submit proposals to ALL:

Interreligious and Interfaith Studies

This section invites proposals that rigorously discuss any aspect of interreligious and interfaith engagement. To establish the contours of this emerging field, we intend to cover a broader spectrum of the discipline. In particular, responding to the 2017 regional conference theme of The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals?, this section encourages proposals that delineate interreligious and interfaith thoughts and practices in the public sphere and among public intellectuals to illuminate the future of interreligious and interfaith studies.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Global Religion and Pluralism

The Global Religion and Pluralism Section seeks papers that comment on interreligious pedagogies and practices which focus on religious pluralism. Based on the conference’s focus on public intellectualism, this section particularly invites submissions that consider diverse experiences in the lives of practitioners or those influenced by religion, including experiences of race, ethnicity, religion, diversity, and culture. We are especially interested in interdisciplinary research.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Religion, Conflict, and Peace

Those who work in the overlapping fields of religious studies, conflict management/resolution, and peacemaking exist at the leading edge of the question: What is the role of the academic in matters of public concern, especially in light of the very practical matters our field is concerned with? This section calls for creative re-imaginings of this delicate balance between theory and praxis, especially in light of the risky yet vital roles one must fulfill when serving as a peace practitioner.

All papers addressing this year’s conference theme of The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals?, or directly related to studies on religion, conflict, and peace are encouraged to be considered. The following broader topics are also welcome:

  • Pluralism amidst religious conflict
  • Peacemaking theme and/or methods

Submit proposals to ALL:

Philosophy of Religion

This section invites proposals that explore the conference theme on The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What is our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals? Scholars are encouraged to engage topics in the field of the philosophy of religion by building a bridge from scholarly and pedagogical strategies to the public sphere. Topics include (but are not limited to) the nature of religion, belief, ultimate reality, the soul, as well as faith and reason, proofs for the existence of God, the problem of evil, and religious plurality. Critically examining these topics opens up a space to objectively question and evaluate subjective beliefs, while beginning to understand and value the various belief systems of others, even when it comes in conflict with one’s own. This section aims to examine how to keep these topics relevant in an increasingly connected and often clashing global society that ranges from fervently religious to nonreligious. With the conference theme in mind, proposals might address the following questions:

  • What is the future of the philosophy of religion? How can scholarship on the metaphysical and epistemological complexities concerning matters of the divine leave a positive impact on the public?
  • How can instructors connect their student body to the local community as public intellectuals? How can scholars connect to a broader audience, especially audiences that are keen to discuss matter of the divine but may not have scholarly tools at their disposal?
  • What are more inclusive and balanced approaches to examining and explaining religious difference?

Submit proposals to ALL:

Religion and Ethics

This section invites proposals which correspond to this year’s theme The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What is our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals? Proposals are encouraged which explore this theme in relation to the influence which religion has (or should/should not have) on the public discourse of moral issues, and the role which religious and theological scholars have in these discussions. Focus of proposals might include discussions of the potential role which intellectuals should/might play in discussions of religious liberty, public morality, mores, and values. Proposals might also focus on the ethical role which religion and intellectuals have in speaking to power and/or the role which they play in supporting existing societal structures. Proposals might also consider the various media which are available to the intellectual and how these various media can be utilized in message delivery and how they affect the message of the intellectual. The section also invites proposals on other contemporary moral questions and debates, especially as they relate to the conference theme.

In the last few years, there have been a number of public discussions on moral issues in which there is great division among the American populace. In almost all of these issues, there is a strong religious component to the discussions, often on both sides of the issue being discussed. This call for papers is inviting scholars of religion and ethics to not just discuss the issues, but to examine what our role should and should not be in these discussions. This call fits into the theme of the conference because these discussions are by their nature public and if the intellectual is going to discuss these issues, it will of necessity be a public discussion.

Submit proposals to:

  • Michael J. Stell (Chair), Catholic University of America, 71stell@cua.edu

Postcolonial and Religious Studies

The Postcolonial and Religious Studies Section aims to focus sessions on the main conference theme, The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals? In today’s society, sacred practices often move to secularized rituals in the public sphere. For example, yoga, which was once a sacred part of Asian religions, has become a part of fitness centers and campus recreational activities. With this in mind, we seek papers that explore the gap between the sacred and secular from a postcolonial perspective. We hope to think about what our responsibility is as postcolonial scholars working in religious studies and/or theology.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Religion, Gender, and Sexuality

This section explores the intersection between religion and perspectives on gender and sexuality. Papers on the theme Gender Justice, Sexuality Justice are invited, but quality papers on all topics in religion, gender, and sexuality are welcomed. We are particularly interested in proposals that are related to one of the following themes:

  • Issues of gender and sexuality in interreligious dialogue
  • Feminist approaches in comparative theology
  • Postcolonial and poststructural issues in gender studies
  • Gender issues and multiple religious identities or religious hybridity
  • Sexuality, nonhuman nature, and religion from interdisciplinary perspectives and approaches, including “othering” and ecotheological perspectives, especially focused on “sexual violence” at this time

We encourage submissions by scholars of all sexual identities (including those who are heterosexually identified), multiple disciplines, religious traditions, and perspectives.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Religion and Leadership

The Religion and Leadership Section seeks proposals that address the role of spirituality and religion in decision making and leadership within the broader contexts raised by pluralism in society and the workplace. This year’s conference theme, The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals?, speaks directly to the section’s goal of addressing the complex relationship among religious institutions, spirituality, pluralism, and “the Other” in the often fraught area of public theology, especially in the recent political climate. As scholars with particular qualifications to speak in the public forum, what charge do we carry? How must we show leadership? We seek both individual and panel proposals directed to the conference theme.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Psychology and Religion

The theme of the 2017 annual conference of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Academy of Religion (MAR-AAR) continues the focus of last year’s conference (religious and theological scholarship today), extending beyond our position in higher education into the public sphere. Based upon the general rubric of the conference, the section welcomes proposals dealing with questions such as: What is the link between psychology, religion, and the public sphere? How does “psychology and religion” relate to the general public? Does higher education have a role in pursuing this line of inquiry? We are interested also in papers that offer psychological perspectives on any aspect of the juxtaposition and integration of psychology and religion, e.g., What does the term ‘other’ mean in psychological and religious terms? What are the psychological aspects of “redemption”? How does psychology relate to medicine and/or dying? In addition, we welcome proposals for papers that address religious texts, themes, figures, and/or readers using the concepts and interpretive tools of any field of psychology in relation to religion.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Christian History and Theology

This Section invites proposals relating to this year’s regional conference theme of The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals? The Call for Papers invites many different applications in the study of Christian history and theology. Proposals may address the conference theme in a variety of ways. We welcome a variety of approaches—including focused historical study, critical textual analysis, and constructive theology. Interdisciplinary projects drawing on anthropology, psychology, sociology, philosophy, or other fields are encouraged. Paper proposals on other topics relating to Christian history and theology are also encouraged.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Contemporary Theology

This section invites proposals for scholars reflecting on systematic, philosophical, or moral theology in the contemporary context, loosely defined as the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. This year's theme, The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals?, presents a number of interesting questions that can be explored in our section. Especially welcome are any papers with an emphasis on the intersection between religion and politics (US or international), moral reflection arising out of contemporary social or healthcare issues (e.g. immigration, end of life care, stem cell research, etc.), the rise of secularism and secularity, the role of the papacy, ecumenism, or the media in a global church, methodological or hermeneutical approaches to religious practice, or other cross-disciplinary conversations. Explicitly focusing on the conference theme will without question bolster one's candidacy in the submission process, but any outstanding pieces subsumed under the section's general aegis are always considered for acceptance. Group presentations or panels are particularly encouraged. The selection committee will make decisions in TBA.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Asian Religions

This section invites proposals on the pioneering, creative, and often revolutionary role of religion in dealing with, and offering solutions to, various global challenges, including migrant crisis, economic/political injustice, and environmental problems. We are interested in presentations that address, through Asian religious perspectives, a variety of issues and questions concerning the role of religion and/or religious figures as a positive, innovative force for social change in both public discourse and socio-political process. We are also interested in how Asian religious perspectives were used to challenge colonialism, breakdown of traditional political and administrative systems, loss of identity, evangelism, and modernizing narratives. Discussions on the utilization of religious narrative or philosophy as ideological drive, such as found in Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha/ahimsa movement and Taixu’s humanistic Buddhism, are welcomed. We also welcome proposal ideas that extend beyond these themes, if they are under the general focus of this section.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Scriptural Reasoning

Practitioners and theorists have long noted the potential impact that Scriptural Reasoning (SR) can have on many spheres of society, given that it is practiced in religious settings, academic settings, and even public settings. Nicholas Adams has made the claim that it is SR’s mission to “make deep reasonings public.” The theme for the MAR-AAR 2017 conference is, therefore, one that fits seamlessly into the work of SR in its various contexts.

We invite paper proposals that reflect on SR as a public practice—one that addresses outside the realms of religious or academic settings, in addition to its work in academic and religious contexts. There are a few questions your presentation might address:

  • What is SR’s responsibility to the public?
  • Reflections on the relationship between public intellectualism, SR, and the university.
  • Reports on the use of SR in various public contexts
  • Reflections on Nicholas Adams’s contribution to SR studies. Adams is a deeply engaged philosopher, one whose work speaks directly to each of the items in the MAR-AAR 2017 theme. Priority will be given to papers addressing this prompt.

Please feel free to propose a paper that is unrelated to the above prompts, should you wish to do so.

Please submit a proposal of no more than 300 words. In addition to the proposal requirements, this Section expects the final manuscripts to be submitted by Friday, February 18, 2017, and should be no more than 2,500 words. In the proposal e-mail, please include your name, title, and institutional affiliation (if applicable), as well as why you felt the SR session would fit for your particular proposal. You may reach out to Matthew at the e-mail addresses below if you have any other questions or need assistance.

Submit proposals to:

Theology, Aesthetics, and Art

We welcome proposals for papers broadly related to the field of theological aesthetics or the theme of this year's conference theme of Why We Are Here: Aims and Practices in Religious and Theological Scholarship Today. In particular, what are the trajectories of the study of theology, aesthetics, and art in today’s public sphere, especially in regards to social justice movements, environmental justice and religious conflict? Are there areas in which the political and artistic exist fluidly, creating spaces that (re)imagine the academic? Are there scholars or projects reflective of these changed entities? In terms of the arts and aesthetics, what are the areas that stand to be challenged? Does the space of the arts and academia make room for all voices? Does the study of theology bring these topics to light? Papers not specifically related to the conference theme will also be considered.

Submit proposals to ALL:


This year's conference theme asks "What is a public intellectual?" while this section deals with a particular public intellectual from history whose style and approach to disseminating his own ideas was unique, creative, and at the same time, mysterious, and mocked by his peers. This section therefore asks for submissions that seek to show the relevance of Søren Kierkegaard's life and work for modern religious scholarship. In particular, what impact should private individuals outside of academia have on the academy? Can academia tolerate the sound of dissenting voices amidst the pre-established methodological norms that scholars often set up for themselves and their institutions? How did Kierkegaard use pseudonyms, irony, and humor to establish a critical stance toward the dominant Hegelianism of his day? And what impact has this style had on contemporary religious scholarship and practice?

These questions could conceivably be answered implicitly rather than explicitly, in a paper that simply does religious scholarship on Kierkegaard's work in a manner that sheds light on the theme of the conference.

Submit proposals to ALL::

Religions of Latin America and the Caribbean

This section explores diverse religions of Latin America and the Caribbean through diverse disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological perspectives.

Proposals may address the following themes:

  • The role of Latin America and the Caribbean in political discourses across the globe.
  • Research on social media and/or other public venues
  • Explorations of why we should study and teach religions of Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Latin America and the Caribbean religions in film, news media, and other mass mediations
  • Borderlands, contact zones, migration, and other trans-national religious ecologies (including in North America and beyond)
  • Comparative studies of liberationist theologies
  • Festivals, pilgrimages, deportations, gangs, and cartels
  • Indigeneity and translation
  • The “Americas” as colonial and/or post-colonial religious construal.

Paper proposals on other topics relating to Religion in the Americas are also encouraged.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Religion and Education

This section invites proposals that respond to this year’s regional conference theme of The Future of Religious and Theological Studies: What Is Our Responsibility as Public Intellectuals? Proposals are encouraged which explore how this theme relates to the religion and education. What is our role as religious educators within the public sphere? How does this influence or should influence our pedagogical practices and how we construct knowledge in religious and theological scholarship? Paper proposals on other topics relating to religion and education will also be considered.

Submit proposals to ALL:

WILDCARD: Comparative Religion and Ecology

The Comparative Religion and Ecology Section is seriously committed to cross-cultural, interreligious, and comparative for dealing with ecological issues. This section constructively explores contemporary environmental issues from the perspectives of different religious traditions through a postcolonial interreligious lens. Comparing spiritual and religious views of the ecosystem, its meaning, and its relation to human beings, this section is self-consciously interreligious as well as interdisciplinary. This section focuses on the challenge of rethinking religions in relation to a just and sustainable society by exploring the current issues concerning the intersection of science, religion, and ecology, such as climate change, alternative energy and fossil fuels, food production and GMOs, etc. We are particularly interested in proposals that are related to one of the following themes:

  • Dealing with an ecological issue(s) in interreligious dialogue(s);
  • Proposing planetary ethic(s) in East-West dialogue(s)
  • Focusing on postcolonial/neocolonial/colonial relations between humans and our ecosystem in relation to religions and theologies.

We encourage submissions by scholars of all religious traditions and multiple disciplines and perspectives.

Submit proposals to ALL:

WILDCARD: Continental Philosophy

This section invites presentations on the purpose of philosophical scholarship in the 21st century. This section is also in honor of Hilary Putnam’s recent death and the scholarship he has inspired. This section focuses on the limitations and promises of building bridges between American Philosophy & Continental Philosophy i.e. Putnam's interpretations of Buber, Levinas, and Rosenzweig.

Submit proposals to ALL:

Executive Board

President – Sabrina D. MisirHiralall, Ed.D

Vice President/President Elect – Christopher Fici, Ph.D candidate

Regional Coordinator – David Brewer, ABD

Graduate Student Representative – Dan Randazzo, ABD