July 10 2020

2017 Western Region Call for Papers

Map of the AAR Western Region

2017 Western Regional Meeting

University of the West
Rosemead, CA
March 17–19, 2017

2017 Call for Papers

Conference Theme:
Religion, Race, and Racism

For this year, we invite everyone to get comfortable and uncomfortable with the theme of Religion, Race, and Racism. The study of “race” has moved from theological, false biological, and natural discourses and employs a critical social-historical constructionist perspective that argues that racial categories are a human invention. Although we hope that all individuals in contemporary societies “understand” race as a historical development, racial classifications, categories, and logic are deeply nested in structures of power, privilege, and knowledge. From the 15th to mid-20th centuries, European colonialists legitimated their conquest by imposing their notions of “religion” and “race” on Asians, Africans, and the indigenous people of the Americas. Race, from this perspective, is inherently biologically determined, and determined by God. The gravest danger of “race” is that it has become “common” or rather “common sense.” Racial classification and racial meaning are not questioned, but rather taken for granted as “natural” or universally accepted means to make sense of human diversity. Critical scholarship articulates this process as “racial formation” and define “race” as a way of “making up people.” Race and religion are both socially constructed anthropological historical categories. Both are implicated in colonialist projects, whose ideas and practices are the foundational building blocks of a racial hierarchy and apparatus that limits power, privilege, and knowledge of racialized minority communities, both historically and in contemporary society. For this year, we invite you to (re)consider, (re)think, (re)introduce, (re)mind, and (re)explore the intersections of religion, race, and racism. Are the historical linkages between religion and race dead, or do they simmer, in institutions, phantomlike, or boldly (re)purposed, (re)fashioned, (re)imagined, and (re)defined in our political, economic, social, cultural, national, international, and quotidian lives and bodies? How is religion simultaneously employed—historically and today—as an instrument of and for oppression, and resistance to marginalization and social, political, and economic domination and inequality based on “race”? We wish to excavate, expand, and examine the intersections of religion and race in other arenas of oppression and inequality, and invite scholars, students, activists, artists, and others to join us in this critically important dialogue.

General Instructions:

Extended deadline Saturday, October 15, 2016, is the deadline for submitting proposals via e-mail to unit chairs for papers for the 2017 AARWR Conference. Proposals or abstracts should be no more than 250 words in length and, along with participant forms, should be sent as an attachment to unit chair(s) at the e-mail addresses provided below. If you are proposing a panel of three to four papers, please include short abstracts for each paper on the panel, and a short description of your panel theme. 

Individuals whose proposals are accepted must be members of the AAR before the conference date in order to present. Here is detailed set of Guidelines for Presenters.

For any questions regarding the call for papers please contact the Program Chair Jonathan Lee at jlee@sfsu.edu.

Asian American Religious Studies

Asian American Religious Studies invites submissions of individual papers or panels related directly or tangentially to the conference theme of "Religion, Race, and Racism." Abstracts can be submitted to our e-mails Thien-Huong T. Ninh, NinhT@crc.losrios.edu and Jeongyun Hur, jeongyun.hur@cst.edu.

Buddhist Studies

The Buddhist Studies section invites papers on any topic exploring the intersections among Buddhism and race, ethnicity, and/or racism. Is the Buddha’s rejection of the Hindu caste system relevant to this discussion, or are race and ethnicity distinct from social stratification? What bearing does this have on Buddhist attitudes toward social justice or violence? How does the Buddhist concept of race inform our understanding of situations such as that in Myanmar? We welcome papers covering all regions of Asia and from all disciplinary approaches that address any facet of this year’s conference theme “Religion, Race, and Racism,” directly or tangentially, or on other topics related to Buddhism. Please submit proposals to Dr. Alison C. Jameson at ajameson@email.arizona.edu and Jake Nagasawa at jnagasawa@umail.ucsb.edu.

Catholic Studies

The espousal, definition, and negotiation of Catholic “universalism” has occurred in many respects though the colonial encounter of the “West” and colonized populations. Claims to “universalism” have at times affirmed the particularities of local cultures, languages, and practices. They have also supported totalizing imperial projects that have sought to assimilate indigenous particularities to “universal” standards of what it means to be both authentically “Catholic” and fully “human.” Colonized populations (e.g., in Haiti, the Americas) have also resisted these “universalizing” projects through their own claims to “Catholic” identity, blending local practices and symbols with those introduced in and through colonial encounter. We invite papers that explore how theories of race, religion, and Catholicism have informed and emerged from concerns with the “universal” and the “particular.” We also invite papers that explore how claims to and incorporations of “Catholic” theologies and practices have been important in resisting “universalizing” imperial projects. The Catholic Studies Unit will explore these issues from various disciplinary standpoints, such as religious studies, anthropology, history, philosophy, and theology. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Catholic Missions in the Americas
  • Catholic perspectives on race and slavery in the United States
  • Catholic labor movements and Farm Worker Movements
    Syncretism of religious practices and traditions through colonial encounter and “globalization.”
  • The “Western” canon and race (e.g. Augustine as “Western”, not “African”).
  • Theologies of resistance and liberation in the Global South
  • Conceptions of race in late antique and medieval Catholicism

Please send your abstracts of up to 300 words to Kolby Knight, kknight@umail.ucsb.edu and/or Eva Braunstein, evabraunstein@umail.ucsb.edu. Please include your name, institution, and stage of career (e.g., PhD, graduate student). 

Ecology and Religion

For the 2017 conference, the Ecology and Religion unit invites proposals illustrating diverse academic approaches to the intersection of religious and ecological perspectives, policies, and behaviors. Proposals addressing topics of race or racism are most welcome, including environmental racism, environmental justice, food justice, environmental health, ecofeminism, eco-womanism, and decolonizing and liberating methodologies. 

The Ecology and Religion unit encourages submissions that address any number of broader issues regarding religion and ecology including but not limited to: nature, the environment, the energy crisis, mining and other forms of land usage and reformation, human-created waste (including islands of plastics floating in oceans or astronaut trash floating in space), modernity, genetic modification of food plants and animals, toxicity, industrialized agriculture, the economics of subsistence farming, fish farming, water rights, oceans, forests, climate change, global warming, natural resources, globalization, transnational commerce and exploitative extraction, eco-theology, cosmological and biological dimensions of Earth Literacy, environmental education, ecopsychology, dark ecology, dark green religion, sustainability, greening, green-washing, Gaia, environmental ethics, anthropocentrism/speciesism, and particular communities of animals, plants, and peoples. These topics may be contextualized in continuity with both past and future generations of humans and other-than-humans; with awareness of impacts on present and future generations of species, landscapes, and ecosystems; and with attention to communities’ conceptual and practical regenerative capacities as they move towards ecological balance, health, sustainability, or other formidable goals. Please submit one-page proposals to both section cochairs Sarah Robinson-Bertoni at sarahrobinsonbertoni@gmail.com and Kimberly Carfore kimcar4@hotmail.com. Thank you.


We invite papers that explore the Ethics of Race and Systemic Racism broadly construed, although we are especially interested in papers on the Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr. and how his ethical views might illuminate present-day discussions about systemic racial injustice, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Questions we are interested in include (though are not limited to): What is Dr. King’s moral philosophy? How does his philosophy inform his addressing systemic racial injustice, forgiveness, and reconciliation? How might Dr. King's ethics differ from present-day approaches to racism? How might Dr. King's ethical views either provide a supplement or corrective to present-day approaches to racial injustices, or are present-day approaches morally and pragmatically 'better' than Dr. King's? What place, if any, does forgiveness have in an ethics of race and systemic racism? Please submit abstracts to Drs. Chad Bogosian, chad.bogosian@yahoo.com and Gregory Bock, gbock@uttyler.edu.

Goddess Studies

Goddess Studies seeks to retrieve the narrative importance of female figures in mythology and religion and works to infuse equity into the nature of exclusion. How does this year’s theme, “Religion, Race, and Racism,” intersect with female (cis/LGBTQ/inclusive) figures and the study of women in narrative and in culture? Are there goddesses, goddess scholarship, or goddess-centric worship that subvert racialization and/or colonization? Are there figures that have subverted demonization due to race or gender or who have been claimed to combat such “Othering”? Contrarily, are there figures that have been suppressed or marginalized due to race and/or gender that are currently being reclaimed, reinterpreted, or re-discovered? How? We invite proposals from scholars and artists from across the disciplines. Possible lenses of critique: Psychology, mythology and religion, musicology, history, critical race theory, gender studies, sociology, anthropology.
Visit http://www.goddessstudies.weebly.com for updates in the Goddess Studies Unit including an upcoming newsletter featuring work from previous presenters and a new blog for guest contributors in the field. Please submit proposals to Drs. Angela Sells and Lauri Ramey at comingintobeing@gmail.com; and lramey@calstatela.edu.

Graduate Student Professional Development and Pedagogy

The Graduate Student Professional Development and Pedagogy Unit invites presentations on teaching related to the conference theme of “Religion, Race, and Racism.” We invite critical reflections on the theory and praxis of teaching on these topics, syllabi sharing, resources, assessments, engaged discussions, and other related pedagogical matters. Presentation formats that model participatory learning are particularly encouraged though individual papers or panels will also be considered. Submit proposal to Melissa James, melmjames@yahoo.com; Chase Way, chase.laurelle.way@gmail.com; and Roy Whitaker, dwhitaker@mail.sdsu.edu.

History of Christianity

The 2017 conference theme is “Religion, Race, and Racism.” We welcome papers on this topic. We also welcome papers on other topics that you are currently researching. 

Racism is a particularly relevant topic at this moment in American history due to recent events: the first Black president, many race-related riots in numerous American cities, immigration debates, and a heightened suspicion among many that racism is still at work among us. In the history of Christianity, race awareness has been an ever-present reality, even if the modern construction of race is a fairly recent phenomenon. Some epochs in Christian history that might prove to be fertile topics for the Call for Papers are:

  • Race (Jew vs. Gentile) debates in earliest Christianity;
  • Race as a factor in the patristic era when Christianity became international: Latins, Greeks, Syrians, Armenians, Egyptians, Ethiopians, etc.
  • Race-related issues in the history of Christian missions: Celtic, “barbarian,” Latin vs. Greeks, global Catholic (e.g. Jesuit, Franciscan, White Fathers) missions, Latin American missions, etc.
  • Modern race-related constructions by Christians, especially during the colonial expansion of Christianity;
  • Immigration and racism: missions, reverse missions, public opinion on immigration, immigrant experience, immigrant forms of Christianity;
  • Race as a factor in the history of Christianity: crusades, inquisitions, witch trials, heresy, etc.
  • Christianity and Islam—is it more than just a religious war? Perhaps notions of race are involved?
  • Racial discussions in the Western Region of the AAR: Polynesian, Micronesian, Melanesian, Latino/a experience, Japanese Internment camps, Black church experience, Native American missions, etc.
  • Racism related to denominationalism: Asian churches, Black churches, Latino churches, White churches, Irish Catholics, Latinos choosing Pentecostalism over Catholicism, Mormon experience of racism, etc.

Please keep in mind that this section is, first and foremost, about the history of Christianity. While there is, of course, room for theology in this session, any theological discussion should be rooted firmly in history in order to qualify. 

We welcome panel proposals (of four people) for those of you who have a group of people interested in a similar topic. We are also open to a book review session. Please submit proposals and participant form to Enrico Beltramini, ebeltramini@ndnu.edu and Dyron Daughrity, dyron.daughrity@pepperdine.edu.

Indigenous Religions

The Indigenous Religions Section invites papers on this year’s theme of “Religion, Race, and Racism.” Race and religion are both socially constructed historical categories used to produce and maintain structures of power, knowledge, and identity. How are contemporary indigenous people strategically engaging with discourses of race, redefining or refashioning racial formations for political or religious goals? What are the social, cultural, or legal consequences of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People or other state actions on indigenous rights? Consider James Clifford’s observation that claiming Indigeneity is “never an innocent act.” How are these “tactical presentations of self” opening new avenues of power, redistributing material resources, or repositioning religious/racial identities especially in cosmopolitan cities and in diaspora? The Indigenous Religions Section welcomes papers on this or any other topic in the field. Please submit proposals to Dr. Brian Clearwater at bclearwater@oxy.edu and Kevin Whitesides, kevinwhitesides@umail.ucsb.edu

Islamic Studies

The AAR’s Western Region Islamic Studies Section encourages individual papers and panel proposals in all areas of our field for the upcoming 2017 conference. This year's theme asks broad questions about Muslim diasporic communities in the West, their history, and narratives of migration. Papers that also include a focus on the philosophies of multiculturalism, Islamophobia, race, integration, sectarianism, religiously-fueled violence, and communal identity construction are particularly welcome. We currently witness a new phenomenon which might be described as Islam in the West, rather than Islam and the West. This year we would like to also explore the dynamics of these complex developments. If you are proposing a panel of three to four papers, please include short abstracts for each paper on the panel, and a short description of your panel theme. Proposals or abstracts should be sent to Dr. Abdullahi Gallab, Arizona State University: Abdullahi.gallab@asu.edu and Dr. Sophia Pandya, California State University, Long Beach, Sophia.Pandya@csulb.edu.

Jewish Studies

The Jewish holiday of Purim occurs at the time of this planned conference and so serves as an inspiration for the Jewish Studies subject matter relevant to the AAR-WR overall theme. The holiday ostensibly commemorates the bravery of a young woman willing to sacrifice her life to save her fellow Jews. Yet the story is quite complicated. Intertwined in the story of personal courage are issues of gender construction, subversion, betrayal, potential martyrdom or suicide, ritual impurity, forced conversion, trickster caricatures, and the carnivalesque. The Jewish Studies Unit of AAR-WR invites papers that explore these themes as revealed not only in the Megillah but that resonate with other sources of Jewish interest: Tanakh, Talmud, philosophic writings, and literature. The Jewish Studies Unit also welcomes preliminary emails expressing interest, possible topics, and questions. Please submit proposals to the following: Roberta Sabbath, Roberta.sabbath@unlv.edu; Zev Garber, zevgarber@juno.com; Leigh Ann Hildebrand, trinsf@gmail.com, and Victoria Balmes vballmes@umail.ucsb.eduADDENDUM: Because of the recent death of Elie Wiesel, the Jewish Studies Unit also invites papers regarding his many contributions

Latina, Latino, and Latin American Religion

The Latina, Latino, Latin American Religion section invites papers related to the conference theme of “Religion, Race, and Racism.” The construction of race, since the colonial period, has been central to the Latina/o and Latin American religious experience. We understand racism in the contemporary moment to be bound to historical structures of oppression and dominance, manifested in sexism, economic exploitation, and political marginalization. We also acknowledge that racism in Latina/o and Latin American history cannot be separated from the experiences of other marginalized peoples; the histories of African diasporas and indigenous communities are inextricably bound to the legacies of racism in Latin America and beyond. This year, we welcome papers that expand interdisciplinary, critically engaged and intersectional approaches to the study of Latina/o and Latin American religions, especially concerning:

  • History, geography, construction, and maintenance (including surveillance and policing) of international borders.
  • Social death, including the racialization of migrant bodies and necropolitics
  • Alternative and spiritual healing traditions among Latina/o communities
  • Indigenous practices and spiritual traditions
  • Afro-Caribbean diasporic religiosities
  • Contemporary politics and legal discourses, especially in light of the warming of Cuban and U.S. relations
  • Queer and feminist theologies
  • Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex
  • Comparative transnational projects (including comparative studies of religion in the United States and Latin America)
  • De-colonial and subaltern responses to racism

As always we welcome any and ALL submissions related to the study of Latina/o and Latin American religion, especially those related to community experiences. Please submit proposals and participant forms to Daisy Vargas, dvarg004@ucr.edu and Thomas G. Evans, thomasgevans@gmail.com.

Nineteenth Century

Religion, race and racism were all shifting constructions over the course of the nineteenth century. Religion became the handmaiden to the most destructive developments of biological constructions of race, and the midwife to more nuanced, but still problematic, cultural or Hegelian notions of racial superiority. Racial and religious notions of chosenness fueled the formation of many national identities, creating cultural clashes between those perceived to be insiders and those shoved to the outside. But religion also gave comfort and inspiration to those marginalized because of their race, and spurred others to fight for justice or to end oppression. The Nineteenth Century Panel invites papers looking at this broad intersection of religion, race and racism in the nineteenth century. This can include looking at shifting constructions of race in the nineteenth century, what role religion played in those constructions, the role religion played in the formation of racist ideologies and institutions, or how religion may have thwarted constructions of race, racist ideologies or institutions. The Nineteenth Century Panel is limited historically to events in the 1800s. However, we welcome global perspectives of how religion, race and racism played out across the globe. The Nineteenth Century Panel welcomes all methodologies, including historical, textual, theological, philosophical, sociological or critical methods of considering nineteenth century people, places and events. Please submit paper proposals and participant forms to Christina Littlefield at christina.littlefield@pepperdine.edu and Matt Crabb at mcrabb76@gmail.com.

Pagan Studies

In keeping with this year’s conference theme, we will look at the intersection of Religion, Race and Racism through the lens of Paganism. Pagan covers a wide spectrum. In America, Pagans have been perceived as a predominantly white group. However, depending on location (country, state,), community and friendship, this is not always the case. But the question remains, how do Pagans negotiate the issues of race and racism? What are our histories on these issues? What is our present? What might be our future? The concept of whiteness is considered to have developed during the Renaissance in Europe, how did it affect the polytheistic religions? As the influx of Africans, many who followed Traditional African Religions—also polytheistic—increased, did the two groups find a connection or did the new racism get in the way? In the “New World” did Indigenous people and minority settlers find any common ground? Where do we stand today in dealing with modern forms of racism? How do we as Pagans, Wiccans, Druids, Witches, Heathens and the many other paths that have arisen incorporate these concerns into our research, our outlook, our activism, etc.? We are looking for papers that engage with the issues of race and racism in Paganism from the earliest times to today. If you have a question about how your work fits with this theme, please contact me with your questions. As usual, we are using Pagan in its most inclusive form, covering pagans, wiccans, witches and the numerous hybrids that have sprung up as well as any indigenous groups that feel akin to or want to be in conversation with Pagans. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. Please e-mail abstracts to dkviale@cpp.edu.

Philosophy of Religion

This year, the Philosophy of Religion Unit welcomes submissions from a wide variety of subjects or themes, including the following:

  • While interpreting the meaning of scripture is usually restricted to theologians, how can or do philosophers (both ancient and modern, East and West) use sacred scriptures explicitly, implicitly, or perhaps unconsciously? How can or do philosophers contribute to understanding sacred scripture? What is sacred scripture? Does philosophy have its own scripture? Is there such a thing as 'philosophical scripture'?
  • In line with the conference theme, what kinds of metaphysical or epistemological frameworks hinder or aid progress towards studying race, racism, and religion? What views have the giants of philosophy put forward on race, racism, and religion? In addition, what are “race,” “racism,” and “religion,” respectively, and how do they relate or interact with one another within the philosophical tradition? How would or does broadening philosophy of religion to include Asian, African, and the Americas’ perspectives alter what traditionally counts as philosophy of religion? We encourage proposals that address or incorporate non-Western approaches to philosophy of religion.
  • What is or should be the relationship between philosophy, technology, and religion? How does popular culture impact the philosophy of religion directly or indirectly, and how can philosophers of religion utilize new mediums of communication to uncover philosophical and religious truth? Are these new mediums transforming what counts as “'religion”?
  • Finally, what new, ignored, or disregarded topics, issues, or subjects deserve attention from those in the field of philosophy of religion today?

Please email proposals and participant forms to the unit cochairs: Dane Sawyer (University of La Verne) at dsawyer@laverne.edu and Paul Rodriguez (Claremont Graduate University) at paul.rodriguez@chaffey.edu.

Psychology, Culture, and Religion

The Psychology, Culture and Religion Section provides a forum for discussion of issues related to our shared concern with the relationships between religion, psychology, and contemporary cultures. The PCR section invites research papers for the AAR/WR annual meeting on any topics exploring this year’s theme “Religion, Race and Racism.” We invite proposals that explore the impact of racial formation originating in religion, as dealing with the study of race and religion as human inventions and anthropological constructed categories that define individual and cultural identities. For example, we would like to examine how these discourses have been approached by colonialist perspectives on historical developments; as well as their ramifications for religious and social concerns in view of inequality and oppression. The psychological, cultural or religious understanding of privilege, access to knowledge and structures of power serve as points of reference. Psychological approaches to religious traditions and expressions are particularly insightful on the construction of ideologies, demonstrating there is a extensive range of approaches within religious communities, from practices of dehumanization and desecration or destruction of Indigenous beliefs, to veneration of specific races as repositories and controllers of spiritual power. Though we especially encourage the submission of proposals for presentations that employ a critical social-historical perspective dealing with the notions of religion, race and racism, we also welcome papers that expose practices of racial hierarchy and marginalization based on religious beliefs. We seek papers covering all religions and spiritual traditions and exploring any of the intersections and junctures within culture from all disciplinary approaches. In accord with a longstanding tradition in our section we invite presenters to talk about their work, rather than reading to us, during the section meeting. We encourage discussion building on the presentation. Visual aids that assist the participants in understanding are welcome. Please submit abstracts to the attention of the two section co-chairs, John Leech at john.leech@yahoo.com and Yuria Celidwen at celidwen@hotmail.com

Queer Studies in Religion

“Queer Love and Justice for All”
What does queer love and justice for all look like now that same-sex marriage is legal? In 2016 there are numerous challenges to queer love, justice and freedoms for all, including, but not limited to new conversations about religion, race, and racisms’ historically negative effects towards LGBTQ peoples and the struggle and advancement of civil and religious rights for all. What do queer lives and studies post-election 2016 look like for LGBTQIA individuals in a religiously plural world and more importantly, how can we learn as queer religious scholars from past movements whose core struggle was the advancement for disenfranchised peoples? Queer Studies in Religion seeks papers that engage a critical conversation between religion, race and racism in relation to a larger conversation regarding sexuality, gender, and religion within political, theological and spiritual communities. For example, we are very interested in conversations about religious freedom laws, religion, politics and race and laws that utilize religious freedoms to discriminate against LGBTQIA persons. Finally, queer studies in religion want to emphasize any type of scholarship that explores queer (LGBTQIA) studies in religion from queer identified or allied scholars both within and outside of the academy. Please send a 250-word proposal alongside the program participant form to Queer Studies in Religion cochairs John Erickson, jerickson85@gmail.com and Marie Cartier, ezmerelda@earthlink.net.

Religion and Social Science

The Religion and Social Sciences Section seeks to explore interdisciplinary approaches to the study of religion, social sciences, and natural sciences. Congruent with this year’s conference theme of “Religion, Race, and Racism,” we invite papers that address this theme through interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and/or multidisciplinary approaches. Please submit abstract and participant form to Hester Oberman, hoberman@email.arizona.edu and Joseph Paxton, joseph.paxton@cst.edu.

Religion and the Arts

The Religion and the Arts Section invites proposals that critically explore the complex relationships between race and religion as found in artistic creations and/or processes. Artists and their creative processes and products stand as scholarly counterparts in the cultural and historical development, articulation, and assessment of the roles that “race” and “religion” play in human experience. Considered in this light, Art is not just relevant subject matter for the scholar of religion, but also represents a kind of knowing that is a vital complement and supplement to that of academic scholarship. For the critical scholar of religion (and of race), the arts provide not only interesting primary source material (subject matter) but also vital secondary source material (scholarship) that can help us expand the horizons of our own work.

The Religion and the Arts section is interested in proposals that begin from the simple acknowledgement of the vital roles that the arts can play in our scholarship, and that also heed the call of the general conference theme.

Any proposals that deal with artistic engagements with, explorations of, and/or representations of “race” and “religion” will be considered. Some potential themes that proposals might explore include the intersections between Art, Race, and Religion with regard to:

  • Their status as ontological commitments to difference and similarity
  • Their functions as cultural capital, intellectual property, commodified and commercialized experience, etc.
  • Their relationship to Authority and power dynamics (e.g., in defining social norms and states of exception, etc.)
  • Racism Seen and Unseen: overt and covert racism in art that is either implicitly or explicitly religious
  • Systems of oppression and liberation: how Art, Race and Religion function together in response to oppressive power dynamics
  • Art Class: socioeconomic overlaps with race and religion

Send abstracts to Albert Silva, acsilva@umail.ucsb.edu and Roy Whitaker, dwhitaker@mail.sdsu.edu

Religion in America

California Religion and the California Body
On the theme of the California body image (including its racialization or de-racialization), we seek proposals for short papers or a panel on the body and California religion/s. From early colonialist-explorer identity-projections on indigenous communities to the re-creation of the self to coexist in interracial contexts, such images have complexified the problem of race in California, either providing solutions to the wider American problem or else exacerbating unmet expectations. How then does California's diverse ethnic context shape religions that come here? How are California religions racialized? How does this relate to places where bodies dwell, to racial and socioeconomic disparity and marginalization and where different bodies live and worship in different California regions (esp. inland and coastal)? How have California religions provided theological rationales for the altering bodies or for exploiting different bodies? Beyond the materiality of embodied religious practice, how have California religions given rise to different views of the body, and how have these views shaped the lived experiences of Californians and of religions that were reshaped in California? How have California images of the body through various media altered what might be categorized as religion, or what might be deemed normed bodies, thus reorienting the problem of race and the California humanum? Of interest especially is how these imagings of the body in California religion/s give rise to particular cultural-theological anthropologies, affording innovative views of the body in California.

American Literature and American Religion
Scholars of American religion are well familiar with the problem that, in most standard narratives of American history, religion tends to play a minor and neglected role. A similar problem has been noted in the study of American literature. Scholars of American religions have worked to and may continue to help correct both of these problems. Along these lines, we invite paper proposals that think about, among other things, (1) how the history of American literature might be integrated with the history of American religions, not only as a reflection of religious developments, but as a source of American myths and religions (e.g., fictional narratives of America’s discovery, settlement, mission, calling, etc.), (2) how literature might be effectively used to teach about American religions, or (3) how literature is a site of, and outlet for, the American religious imagination, even for the invention of novel fictional religions (especially in science fiction and fantasy). Given the topic of our other target panel, perhaps also consider (4) fictional depictions of American religions with a Californian emphasis (esp. in Californian literature) or locus or fictional depictions of the racialized body in California-related religion/s. More broadly, given the theme of Religion, Race, and Racism, you might write on (5) how racialized narratives or figures in American literature have been used to sustain or even create racialized religions.

Please submit proposals to Dr. Jason S. Sexton at jsexton@fullerton.edu; Nathan Fredrickson at veradico@gmail.com; and Dr. Konden R. Smith at krsmith1@asu.edu.

Religion, Literature, and Film

The Religion, Literature, and Film Unit welcomes proposals addressing religion itself or themes related to religion as presented in contemporary literature or contemporary films. We are open to proposals that explore fictional and nonfictional representations of religion and/or religious themes as represented through literature and film. Specific interests of the unit are proposals of an interdisciplinary studies approach to examining religion, literature, and film and proposals that explore the relevance or non-relevance vitality or breakdown of religion as reflected in cultural or social zeitgeist. This year, in concurrence with the regional conference theme of “Religion, Race, and Racism,” the Religion, Literature, and Film Unit is specifically interested in proposals that explore religion and related-themes concerned with myth and race or culture and racism. Please send a 250-word proposal and your 2017 program participation form to section chairs Emmanuelle Patrice at empstork2233@gmail.com and Jon R. Stone at jrstone@csulb.edu

Religions of Asia

Promoting inclusivity and excellence in scholarship, this section invites individual papers covering a variety of religious and cultural traditions to explore all aspects of religions of Asia. This year, we are especially interested in papers that relate to the conference’s 2017 overall theme of race and religion. How do race (and racism) become integral factors in our understanding the living and historical contexts of Asian religions? What effect does the production of racial constructs have upon Asian religions, whether as produced externally through scholarship, or as self-understandings developed within Asian traditions themselves? What are some of the past impacts of colonialism on Asian religions, and where and how do such legacies persist in the contemporary landscape of these traditions? How do ideas in Asia about religions inform ideologies more broadly within culture? We encourage the submission of papers that utilize interdisciplinary and nontraditional approaches to research. Other topics and themes of interest to the Religions of Asia group include: ways in which Asian religions interact with art, music, material culture, and ideology; rites of passage (birth, marriage, death, etc.); sacred spaces; the body as location for religious experience or ideology; religious and/or secular rituals or performances; gender and religion; religion and ecology; sacred text; or storytelling and oral tradition. Please send abstracts as email attachments to Anna M. Hennessey, dr.amhennessey@gmail.com and Michael Reading, michael.reading@cst.edu. We look forward to receiving your proposals.


This group provides a forum for religious scholarship that engages theoretically and methodologically the four-part definition of a Womanist as coined by Alice Walker. We nurture interdisciplinary scholarship, encourage interfaith dialogue, and seek to engage scholars and practitioners in fields outside the study of religion. We are particularly concerned with fostering scholarship that bridges theory and practice and addresses issues of public policy in church and society.

Session I
This session seeks papers that explore the oral nature of Black Life and Black Women’s experiences in their faith traditions and cultural narratives. We want to explore the robust and intentional nature of women’s words and narratives, stories, and personal history as sources of power and memory. We seek papers which address the intergenerational nature of womanism, feminism, and Black feminism and the transmission of cultural memory and herstories. We are interested also in scholarship that addresses the intersection of activism, race, and gender. We seek papers which address critical issues that bridge the church and society in the Twenty First Century We are open to papers which also address the impact of technological developments in contemporary discourses on race and activism. We encourage voices from different disciplinary homes that include women's studies, philosophy, literature, critical theory, social ethics, and theology. Please send a 250 word proposal alongside the program participant form to Womanist and Pan African Studies Chair Sakena Young-Scaggs, revsys@asu.edu.

Pan African Session II
We seek contributions that explore the gendered, social, political, ritual, transnational dimensions of religious scholarship throughout the African Diaspora. We encourage papers that critically reflect on the international diversity of African and African American Diaspora and the faith traditions and religious experiences in line with the regional conference theme. We solicit proposals that examine how religion acts as an interpretive lens for critical concerns of racial identities, transnationalism, migrations, and colonialism. We are particularly interested in the colonial and postcolonial histories dealing with race and embodiment. Please send a 250-word proposal alongside the program participant form to Womanist and Pan African Studies Chair Sakena Young-Scaggs, revsys@asu.edu. We are eager and excited begin another transforming and progressive year in Womanist/Pan African Religious scholarship in the Western Region. 

Women in Religion

The Women and Religion Unit invites paper proposals that address the conference theme, “Religion, Race and Racism,” as it intersects with women’s lives, experiences, scholarship, religious identity, gender identity, bodily realities, etc. The unit is particularly interested in the process of racialization and the importance of intersectional identity, and their impact upon women and religion. The unit welcomes all proposals related to the conference theme, though we also offer the following themes for your consideration:

  • Being marginalized within already marginalized religious and ethnic communities, i.e. Mizarahi/Middle Eastern Jewish women as an overlooked minority
  • Racialized tropes of women and the female divine within religious and cultural narratives, i.e. the demonization of Eastern or “dark” goddesses; the depiction of those deemed “other” as ghosts, witches, monsters etc.; racialized domestic tropes; racialized ideas of victimhood and guilt, etc.
  • Re-imaginings or refractions of racist constructions of the categories “woman” and “women’s experience”
  • Intersectional epistemology and praxis as it relates to ideas of race, racism and anti-racist justice-making

Please send your 250-word proposal and participant form to Emily Silverman, ebinah@gmail.com and Sara Frykenberg, sara.frykenberg@gmail.com. We look forward to receiving your proposal.

Joint sessions

Queer Studies/Buddhist Studies Cosponsored Section

The Queer Studies/Buddhist Studies Cosponsored section invites papers on any topic exploring the intersection between Queer Studies and Buddhism, particularly in regard to the marginalization of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer community. It has been argued by Roger Corless that “Buddhism itself is queer” due to the Buddhist teaching of non-duality. In the Pali Canon, rules for monastic and lay practitioners vary, but queer identity is not directly addressed. The interpretation of canonical teachings, therefore, has been heavily influenced by socio-cultural traditions. Can Queer Theory address the marginalization of LGBTQ+ Buddhists? Can it be used to inform the study of Buddhism from a more inclusive perspective? We welcome papers covering this topic either directly or tangentially. Please submit proposals to Marie Cartier at ezmeralda@earthlink.net, John Erickson at jerickson85@gmail.com, Alison C. Jameson at ajameson@email.arizona.edu and Jake Nagasawa at jnagasawa@umail.ucsb.edu.

Visas for International Participants

From time to time international participants contact the AARWR and request a personal invitation to attend the conference, which they present as a necessary step in order to obtain a visa. In March 2015 the Board decided that we do not have the resources to support requests that involve visas, and so we adopted a formal policy that we do not get involved in visa issues.

Note, our policy at the regional level differs from the national policy and so such inquirers are encouraged to investigate possibilities for attending the national conference and are referred to the AAR national website http://www.aarweb.org/.