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NAASR 2022 Annual Meeting Program

Critique in the Study of Religion: Past, Present, and Future



Saturday, November 12, 2022 (Virtual Only), 3:00 pm EST (followed by a virtual happy hour)

NAASR Keynote Address:

Mitsutoshi Horii (Shumei University), Co-editor, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (MTSR)

Title: “Critique for What? Critical Religion and the Problems of Modernity”



November 18-20, Denver, CO

Friday, November 18, 2022

8:30 am – 9:50 am (MST) Executive Council Meeting

Convention Center, Mile High Ballroom 3C

10:00 am – 11:50 am (MST) Theory Panel

Convention Center, 103

This session features panelists who explore various theoretical formations that are
specifically relevant or applicable to the critical study of religion. What existing theoretical
frameworks should critical scholarship enlist? What unique opportunities for theory-building
does the critical study of religion present to scholars?


Julie Ingersoll (University of North Florida)


Lina Aschenbrenner (University of Erfurt)

“Assemblage thinking and theory for a critical study of religion”

Jacob Barrett (University of Alabama)

“Ru Paul and Religious Freedom? What we stand to gain when we borrow from our critical
disciplinary neighbors”

Michael DeJonge (University of South Florida)

“What is constructionism? Theory for the critical study of religion?”

Lauren Horn-Griffin (University of Alabama)

“Mediatizing Religion”

Sean McCloud (University of North Carolina, Charlotte), Presiding

1:00 pm – 2:50 pm (MST) Teaching Panel

Convention Center, 103

This session considers the role of critical religious studies in classrooms. To what
degree does the critical study of religion differ from the critical pedagogies in religion? What
distinguishes critical from non-critical approaches to teaching religion? How do these
pedagogies enhance student learning?


Leslie Dorrough-Smith (Avila University)


Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand (Middle Tennessee State University)

Beverly McGuire (University of North Carolina, Wilmington)

Hussein Rashid (Independent Scholar)

“Practicing What We Teach—Critical Religious Studies in the Classroom”

John McCormack (Aurora University)

“Still in Search of Dreamtime? Finding a Pedagogical Logic for the Study of Religion”

Steven Ramey (University of Alabama)

“Pedagogical Description as Method: A Non-Linear Approach”

Andrew Durdin (Florida State University), Presiding

3:00 pm – 4:50 pm (MST) Scholar Panel

Convention Center, 103

This panel examines the relationship of the critical study of religion to its primary
constituents. The papers consider various themes, including the politics of so called critical
methodologies and assumed distinctions between critical scholarship and activism.


Jennifer Selby (Memorial University)


Jason WM Ellsworth (Dalhousie University)

“Scholarly Identification in the Field: Critical Scholars and Theoretical Methodological

Lucas Johnston (Wake Forest University)

“Scholars in Their Natural Habitats: Criticism, Vulnerability, and Exposure”

Daniel Miller (Landmark College)

“Critical Religious Studies and Engaged Scholarship”

Matt Sheedy (University of Bonn)

“Critical Religion Versus Critical Islam and Indigenous Studies: Insiders, Outsiders, Activists”

Merinda Simmons (University of Alabama)

“Speaking Theory to Power”

Emily Crews (University of Chicago), Presiding

7:00 – 9:00 pm – NAASR Reception – Henry’s Tavern, Denver (co-sponsored by Equinox Publishing)

Saturday, November 19, 2022

9:00 am – 10:50 am (MST) ROUNDTABLE: On the Very Idea of “Critique”

Embassy Suites, Crestone Ballroom Salon A

This roundtable brings together a wide-ranging group of senior and established
scholars to reflect on the concept of “critique” in the study of religion. What are the contours of a
critical study of religion? What role(s) can it serve for the wider field of religious studies? What
challenges confront it?


Kathryn Lofton (Yale University)

Craig Martin (St. Thomas Aquinas College)

Kevin Schilbrack (Appalachian State University)

Winnifred Sullivan (Indiana University)

Robyn Walsh (University of Miami)

Rebekka King (Middle Tennessee State University), Presiding

11:00 am – 11:50 am (MST) NAASR Business Meeting

Embassy Suites, Crestone Ballroom Salon A

Sunday, November 20, 2022

12:30 PM – 2:30 PM (MST) Moving Body as Foundational to the Proper Study of Religion: A Response to and Celebration of the work of Sam Gill

CO-SPONSORED SESSION with Body and Religion Unit and Comparative Studies of Religion Unit

Convention Center-Mile High 4C (Lower Level)


Mary Corley Dunn (Saint Louis University)

Aaron W. Hughes (University of Rochester)

Kimberley Patton (Harvard University)

Seth Schermerhorn (Hamilton College)

Jeanette Reedy Solano (California State University, Fullerton)

John Thibdeau (University of Rochester)

Hugh B. Urban (Ohio State University)

Michael Zogry (University of Kansas)

Sam Gill, Responding

Jeffrey Stephen Lidke (Berry College), Presiding

NAASR 2022 Annual Meeting: Call for Papers


2022 Annual Meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Religion

Call For Papers

Critique in the Study of Religion: Past, Present, and Future

The 2021 Annual Meeting addressed the idea of “crisis” as an organizing principle for practitioners and scholars of religion. Krínein (Gr.), from which the English term “crisis” derives, also gives us the word “critique.” Many of our members have sought to position NAASR as an intellectual space that emphasizes and facilitates the critical study of religion across a wide range of specializations. However, what counts as “critique” remains highly contested, as does the question of whether such a term best encapsulates the primary mission of NAASR. What exactly does “critical religious studies” imply? Is it a distinctive set of analytic approaches or rather rhetorics deployed in defense of particular intellectual or professional positions? To what degree does adopting the moniker of “critic” help or hinder our scholarly vision? In what ways can the critical study of religion make important interventions in the current intellectual trends shaping the academic study of religion today?

The program for 2022 will explore the role of “critique” in the study of religion as it applies to four areas:

1.     Theory: What theoretical frameworks have been or currently are productive/useful for performing “critique” in the study of religion? And which theoretical frameworks have critical religion scholars not adequately engaged with? 

2.     Method: What methodological criteria should constitute a “critical” approach to studying religion — and what’s the case for these rather than others? 

3.     Teaching: How should critical religious studies manifest in pedagogy? Is the critique deployed in producing scholarship about religion the same as the critique used in teaching that scholarship, i.e., in religious studies pedagogy? If so, in what sense? If different, how are they different?

4.     Scholar: Does being a critical scholar require distance from or disinterest in our data? If so, to what degree? Is being a critical scholar of religion incompatible pursuing other political and activistic commitments? If not, how does one balance these responsibly?

NAASR invites submissions that substantially respond to any one of these four provocations and explore the implications for the field. Submissions for possible respondents must each:

1.     Identify the area (one of the four immediately above) on which they will focus

2.     Provide a brief (500-word max) statement that outlines the basic elements of their response to the identified theme.

The sessions for the annual meeting will follow a roundtable format exploring each of these four (4) themes. Participants will submit full papers that apply their expertise to the designated topic one month prior to the meeting (approximately early October 2022). Each session will feature an invited scholar who will introduce the panelists and offer substantive remarks on the topic. Participants will have six minutes to summarize their papers and will be followed by informal discussion between panelists and general audience for roughly one hour. Ultimately the aim is to publish these sessions as an edited volume under the NAASR Working Papers series with Equinox publishing.

We welcome scholars from diverse areas of expertise and disciplinary training.

Please upload submissions on our Google Form: https://forms.gle/tBGymCaYpdT9MwJ89 no later than 5pm EST March 8, 2022.

Email any questions to dennislorusso@gmail.com

2022 Membership

NAASR membership has more benefits than ever.

It’s that time of year again! Please be sure to renew your membership early so that you are able to take advantage of all the benefits NAASR has to offer. By renewing early, you will have longer access to MTSR online, and you will ensure that you receive hard copy versions of the Bulletin’s Volume 51 issues.

Other benefits:

As a NAASR member, you receive an online subscription to NAASR’s journal Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. This includes advanced articles online. Members can access the content on the Brill website https://brill.com/ with either existing account details (for renewing members) or by setting up a new account (new members). If you are a lifetime member and would like to get the online membership to MTSR, you may pay for it on the membership page using the bottom “pay now” option.

New in 2021, NAASR began partnering with The Bulletin for the Study of Religion (Equinox Publishing) and the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, along with a generous donation from a supporter, 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. You will receive an email from Equinox with login information for your online account.

As a NAASR member, you also receive a 25% discount on books at Equinox.

To renew or join, simply go to the membership tab on our website.

Annual dues:

  • $75 for faculty members
  • $39 for graduate students, contingent/adjunct faculty, and retired faculty
  • $400 for a six-year faculty membership

Please also be sure to fill out the google form with any updates to your email and mailing addresses.

We look forward your continued support in 2022.



NAASR Media and Communications Coordinator

NAASR is looking for a graduate student or early career scholar to coordinate its social media and other online communications. Under the supervision of NAASR President, Vice-President and Secretary/Treasurer, this individual will support social media content creation and operations.

This position will come with a Travel and Conference honorarium.


  • Monitor NAASR social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
  • Create cross-platform content promoting activities, publications, and other initiatives by NAASR and NAASR members.
  • Promote NAASR’s position as a scholarly society dedicated to historical, critical, and social scientific approaches to the study of religion, as well as a relentlessly reflexive critique of the theories, methods, and categories used in such study.


  • Enthusiastic and knowledgeable about social media.
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills.
  • Ability to take and upload digital photos.
  • Initiative, sound judgement, and ability to work independently and complete assigned tasks within identified timeframes.
  • Keen attention to detail when proofreading, copyediting, and fact-checking.
  • Comfortable utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WordPress.
  • Familiarity with Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Email template program.


  • Gain valuable social media experience and proficiency in communicating to a large audience.
  • Learn how to participate in a creative and collaborative content-production process.
  • Network with NAASR members and other scholars in the field of religious studies and cognate fields.


Email applications to NAASR President, Rebekka King (rebekka.king@mtsu.edu) by January 31, 2022.

To apply, send your CV, a brief cover letter describing how you can contribute to NAASR communications, and how the position might be beneficial to you. Please attach 2 – 3 examples of your best work on any social media platform.

This position is a volunteer position, which includes a travel stipend to attend the NAASR annual meeting.

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

NAASR 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting Program*


November 21-22

“Show Us Your Data: Method and Theory in Action”

We are pleased to announce the program for the 2020 Annual Meeting.

REGISTER FOR THE MEETING AT THIS LINK. Fill out the Google form and you will receive the zoom links for each meeting in the coming weeks.

NAASR 2020 Meeting Schedule

Saturday, November 21, 2020 (EST)

12:00 PM EC meeting
1:00-3:00 PM Localized Politics of Defining Religion
Jacob Barret (University of Alabama)
Emily Crews (University of Chicago)
Brad Stoddard (McDaniel College)
Savannah Finver (Ohio State University)
Michael Graziano (University of Northern Iowa)
Richard Newton (University of Alabama)

3:30-5:30 PM Class, Identity, and Religion
Andie Alexander (Emory University)
Andrew Durdin (Florida State University)
James Dennis Lorusso (Georgia State University)
Cody Musselman (Yale University)
Jeremy Posadas (Austin College)
Matt Sheedy (University of Bonn)
Merinda Simmons (University of Alabama)

9:00 PM cocktail party

Sunday, November 22, 2020 (EST)

12:00 PM business meeting

1:00-3:00 PM Data and Theory in Computational & Statistical Modeling

Wesley Wildman (Boston University

Ann Taves (UC Santa Barbara)

LeRon Shults (University of Agder, Kristiansand)

Kate Stockly (Boston University)

Wesley Wildman (Boston University)

Connor Wood (Center for Mind and Culture)

3:30-5:30 PM Pure Christian America: “Purity” as a Concept for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Christian Nationalism in the US

Daniel Miller (Landmark College)

Daniel Miller (Landmark College)

Bradley Onishi (Skidmore College)

Sara Moslener (University of Central Michigan)

Glenn Bracey (Villanova University)

#naasr2020 • Nov. 20-22 • Online

*  #naasr2020 update:

The North American Association for the Study of Religion would like to announce that we are canceling the in-person meeting this year and replacing it with an online virtual meeting. While we hope progress continues in the fight against COVID-19, we believe that travel and group meetings might unnecessarily jeopardize the health of our members and other attendees. A virtual meeting allows us to gather without putting ourselves and others at risk.

In the coming months, we will release the schedule for the virtual meeting (including all panels and the business meeting) and will share the link with anyone who is interested. Thank you to everyone for understanding, and we look forward to seeing you virtually in November and then hopefully in person for 2021’s meeting in San Antonio.

In the meantime, we are happy to announce and to share our preliminary program. This year we are breaking with the format we used for the last several years and are instead hosting three roundtables explicitly focusing on applied method and theory.