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Keynote Address Friday, November 12, 7pm

NAASR Annual Meeting 2021

NAASR2021Keynote (Poster)

NAASR 2021 Annual Meeting Program

Religion and the Study of Religion in Times of “Crisis”



Friday, November 12, 2021

NAASR Keynote Address: Crisis? What Crisis? The Study of Religion is Always in Crisis

Aaron Hughes (University of Rochester)

Saturday, November 12, 2021

Roundtable: Critiquing Crisis in Higher Education


Emily Crews (University of Chicago)

Lauren Horn Griffin (University of Alabama)

James Dennis LoRusso (Unaffiliated Scholar)

Russell McCutcheon (University of Alabama)

Craig Martin (St. Thomas Aquinas College)

Suzanne Owen (Leeds Trinity University College)

James Dennis LoRusso (Unaffiliated), Presiding

LOCUS: Landmarks in Religious Adaptations in the Face of Crisis

1:30 PM- 3:30 PM (EST)


Moments of crisis provide a rich backdrop to observe how religion and religious groups themselves adapt and, sometimes, even thrive. History has shown that in times of political, cultural or social distress, religion offers people alternatives to cope with a crisis. At the same time, religion, either understood in institutional or communal terms, can be a force of change, prompting members and non-members to rethink and recreate the social milieu. Further, a religion itself changes by adapting its practices to the needs of the time. In this sense, a crisis may change religion, but religion also changes the way we approach and understand crisis.

This panel presents and discusses three instances of religious teachings, practices, and/or institutions adapting to crises in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia. It theorizes that religions are not fixed entities but live constructions that, especially at times of crisis, adapt themselves at different levels, consolidating, changing, or enriching their place in society.


Xochiquetzal Luna (Wilfred Laurier University),

 “’Social Church’ and ‘Pragmatic’ Relationship with the State: The Wager of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico and Orthodox Church in Russia in Times of Crisis”

Gustavo Moura (Wilfrid Laurier University)

“Yoga’s ‘Flexibility’ in Brazil During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Ben Szoller (University of Waterloo)

“Across the Land: How Subsidiarity and Solidarity Informed Catholic Responses to ‘Crisis’ in North America”

Ashley Lebner (Wilfrid Laurier University/Balsillie School of International Affairs), Responding

Doaa Shalabi (University of Waterloo), Presiding

LANGUAGE: Theorizing Crisis as “A Turning Point”

4:00 PM- 6:00 PM (EST)


The etymology of the term crisis (from the Greek krisis) denotes a “decisive turning point.” While initially concerned with the progression of a disease, it captures the moment in which change is perceived as inevitable “for better or worse.” The papers in this panel examine the social rhetoric that emerges in historical moments of rupture, resistance, and reconstitution. Focusing on the relationships between language and authority, this panel offers theoretical, historical, and philosophical analyses of distinct case studies conceptualized as crises and the decision-making strategies employed by social agents.


Zoe Anthony (University of Toronto)

“Profit and Loss: The New Time of Crisis”

Aaron Treadwell (Middle Tennessee State University)

“Tongues of Fire: The Relationship Between Black Liberation Theology and Arson in the South”

Karen Zoppa (University of Winnipeg)

“Force of Law: Resources in Derrida for Rethinking Policing”

Andrew Durdin (Florida State University), Responding

Jacob Barrett (University of Alabama), Presiding


7:00 PM- 9:00 PM

Sunday, November 14, 2021

LEXICON: Crisis as Method in the Study of Religion

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM (EST)


Like all academic disciplines, the study of religion has developed in response to intellectual and social crises. Looking at the rise of neoliberalism, the propagation of conspiracy theories, and the critique of essentialism, the papers in this panel consider the impact of such frameworks on the larger work of teaching and theorizing religious studies as a discipline. How have crises become paradigms that are replicated in publications and pedagogies? Echoing Bruce Lincoln’s “Theses on Methods,” this panel considers different projects of persuasion exemplified in the critical study of religion in and through crisis.


Carmen Celestini (University of Waterloo/Centre on Hate, Bias, and Extremism)

“Pop Goes the People—Populism, Panics, and Pandemics”

Michael DeJonge (University of South Florida)

“The Crisis of World Religions and the Critique of Essentialism”

Matt Sheedy (University of Bonn)

“Enlarging Religious Studies, Wither-ing Neoliberalism”

Erin Roberts (University of South Carolina), Responding

Allison Isidore (University of Alabama), Presiding

LOCUTION: Upending the Discipline—A Critical Roundtable on Crisis

1:30 PM – 3:30 PM


“There is no crisis to which academics will not respond with a seminar.” – Marvin Bressler (1923-2010)

This year’s AAR Presidential Theme calls for “thinking about the actual human implications of religion in a world upended.” Given NAASR’s work as a critical engagement, this roundtable brings together senior and early-career scholars to assess this stated aim. What does it mean to frame the world which we study as a “world upended”? How can we think critically about not just crisis itself but also about what is constructed as “crisis”? What are the implications to our scholarly endeavors and our profession if responding to “crisis” becomes our modus operandi? How does this framework privilege certain voices or interests over others within the field (or within the objects of study)?


Merinda Simmons (University of Alabama)

Jeremy Posadas (Austin College)

Adrian Hermann (University of Bonn)

Robyn Walsh (University of Miami)

Rebekka King (Middle Tennessee State University), Presiding


4:00 PM- 5:00 PM (EST)

New Collaboration Between NAASR, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and The Bulletin for the Study of Religion

We have an exciting announcement for members. Thanks to a generous donation, NAASR will be partnering with The Bulletin for the Study of Religion (Equinox Publishing) and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, to provide all NAASR members with a subscription to the Bulletin. This will include a print subscription, mailed to each member, in addition to online access.

Renew Membership here: NAASR Website 

Update address here: Google Forms NAASR Member Information

A bit more about the Bulletin:The Bulletin for the Study of Religion is one of the longest, continually-running publications in the North American field. Published by Equinox and produced by the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, the Bulletin begins a new chapter as a magazine for the international field. Richard Newton serves as Editor of this feature-based publication that highlights currents at all the sites where scholars carry out their work. With field-oriented peer-reviewed articles, department-level innovations, and conversations with colleagues, the Bulletin keeps you in the loop. Want to learn more about the Digital Humanities? We’ve got you covered with The Download. Trying to put your academic skills and knowledge to work. Take a look at those who’ve done it well in The Profession. Got a burning question, Sage D’Vice’s column will help you work it out. All this and more is in the new Bulletin! And NAASR is excited to share that each member will receive a subscription–a fitting way to celebrate fifty years of the Bulletin!

We are very happy to be working with Richard Newton, the new Editor of the Bulletin, to bring this long-established (this is the 50 year anniversary) and newly-revamped publication to your homes or offices each quarter. 
To be sure you receive all issues, please renew your membership ASAP, and to be sure we have the correct mailing address for you, please fill out the GOOGLE FORM with your most recent information. If you have already paid for 2021 (or are a lifetime member) but are unsure which address you have on file with us, please fill out the Google form. You can add a note to me in the comment box letting me know you are just updating your info. 

Deadline to renew membership or join in order to receive all 2021 issues in print is April 23. If you pay dues later, you may miss the first issue, and we cannot send back issues. Please be sure to renew your NAASR membership for 2021 now. Our new partnership with Equinox and the University of Alabama will be in addition to the online subscription to Method & Theory in the Study of Religion (Brill) that you already receive as a NAASR member. That will continue as well. 

Renew Membership here: NAASR Website 

Update address here: Google Forms NAASR Member Information


Because of the storms affecting many across the country, we have decided to extend the deadline for the 2021 Annual Meeting Call For Proposals to March 8, 2021 at 5pm EST. We hope the extra week will provide time for those who need it.

Our theme this year is Religion and the Study of Religion in Times of “Crisis.” And as always, we aim to approach this topic with an emphasis on method and theory. What happens when we classify something as a “crisis”? And what is at stake in linking these “crises” to “religion”? How does this designation illuminate or obscure certain political or ideological dynamics? At NAASR 2021, we are asking participants to theorize the relationship between “religion” (and/or the study of “religion”) and “crisis” broadly construed. NAASR invites submissions from individuals or full panels that address these concepts within the context of their research. For more information see the CFP, attached below or online.

Call for Proposals, NAASR 2021 Annual Meeting

November 20-22

We are pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for the 2021 Annual Meeting.

Religion and the Study of Religion in Times of “Crisis”

Call for Proposals

For the past several years, NAASR’s meetings have featured panels that reflect on various dimensions of the study of religion (theory, method, data, key categories, and field). As evidenced in numerous recent calls and conference themes, “crisis” has emerged as a preferred way many in the academic study of religion characterize elements of the current historical moment. COVID, systemic racism, rising fascist movements, the character of American evangelicalism, and even the integrity of higher education have all fallen under this banner of “crisis.” Moreover, religion figures prominently in public discourse surrounding these trends. Yet, what happens when we classify something as a “crisis”? And what is at stake in linking these “crises” to “religion”?  How does this designation illuminate or obscure certain political or ideological dynamics? 

 At NAASR 2021, we are asking participants to theorize the relationship between “religion” (and/or the study of “religion”) and “crisis” broadly construed. NAASR invites submissions from individuals or full panels that address these concepts within the context of their research. Submissions may focus on crises of the contemporary moment (pandemic, racism, patriarchy, neoliberal capitalism, authoritarianism, etc.) or explore the theme of crisis through other contexts, historical periods, or theoretical positions. Though we are open to a wide range of thematizations of ‘crisis,’ contributions should make explicit theoretical and substantive connections to understandings of crisis in our current historical moment.

NAASR is therefore issuing a call for papers and a call for full panels. 

Individual papers should include:

  1. A Working Title
  2. A brief abstract summarizing the scope of their argument and how it will address the theme (max. 500 words) 

Full Panel proposals should include: 

  1. A Working Title
  2. A list of participants (5-7 maximum, including a presider and a respondent, if appropriate)
  3. A summary of the broader topic the panel will address (max. 500 words)
  4. For each participant, a brief abstract summarizing their contribution (max. 500 words)

To allow for robust engagement, all panelists will submit conference papers for pre-circulation among members by July 31, 2021 and will be prepared to summarize their papers (10-15 min) during the in-person annual meeting. Summaries of papers will be followed by remarks from a respondent and extended discussion. 

Versions of the full papers will be included as chapters for an edited volume in the NAASR Working Papers Series with Equinox. Therefore, contributors are strongly encouraged to draft their pre-circulated papers in the format of chapters for eventual publication. 

We especially welcome submissions from graduate students, early-career scholars, and those employed in contingent positions, and as always, NAASR strongly encourages participation from scholars representing the full range of areas of expertise, backgrounds, and identities.  

Submissions should be emailed to dennislorusso@gmail.com no later than 5pm EST March 1, 2021.

#NAASR 2021