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NAASR Note: New Executive Officer

NA subcommittee of NAASR’s executive council nominated Brad Stoddard as the person to follow Craig Martin as NAASR’s next Executive Secretary/Treasurer, as Craig’s 5-year term ends this summer. Although originally appointed to the nominating committee himself (inasmuch as he is a member of the executive), Brad excused himself when conversations turned to his possible candidacy. And the executive has now voted by email and agrees with their nomination. So we’re happy to announce that Brad—a tenure-track professor at McDaniel College (where, by the way, he works with former NAASR President, Greg Alles) and grad of Florida State, who studies, among other things, the role of religion in the US’s prison system—will assume this role when Craig’s term ends.

You may have seen Brad on a variety of NAASR panels or participating in some of our workshops, over the past few years. He’s also involved in The Religious Studies Project—so he’s already an active member of the field and has the energy and organizational skills to follow Craig and to keep Craig’s innovations moving in the right direction.

Announcement: 2016 NAASR Program

San Antonio N

Method Today

With the success of the 2015 NAASR program—devoted to examining the current state of theory in the study of religion with four main papers plus responses—the 2016 program will retain the same format but turn its attention instead to the closely related topic of method. And because of the wide variety of methods used in the cross-disciplinary study of religion, we’re proposing narrowing the focus to four key tools that all scholars of religion surely employ, regardless their approach to the study of religion: description, interpretation, comparison, and explanation.

Description: Naomi Goldenberg (University of Ottowa)

Respondents:

Emily Crews (University of Chicago)

Ian Cuthbertson (Queen’s University)

Neil George (York University)

Dan McClellan (University of Exeter)

Interpretation: Kevin Schilbrack (Appalachian State University)

Respondents:

Mark Gardner and Steven Engler (Mount Royal University)

Joshua Lupo (Florida State University)

Matt Sheedy (University of Manitoba)

Jennifer Eyl (Tufts University)

Comparison: Aaron W. Hughes (University of Rochester)

Respondents:

Lucas Carmichael (University of Colorado)

Thomas Carrico (Florida State University)

Drew Durdin (University of Chicago)

Stacie Swain (University of Ottawa)

Explanation: Ann Taves and Egil Asprem (University of California—Santa Barbara)

Respondents:

Spencer Dew (Centenary College)

Joel Harrison (Northwestern University)

Paul Kenny (SOAS, UK)

Erin Roberts (University of South Carolina)

Examining each of these in turn will open conversations on far wider topics of relevance to NAASR’s mission, such as description being intimately linked to ethnography, viewpoint, first person authority (to name but a few). In much the same way, detailed consideration of the other three tools also leads into conversations on the basics of the field. For instance, having survived critiques of comparison as ethnocentric, what is the future of comparative studies and how ought they to be carried out? Given the once dominant, but for some now discredited, place of hermeneutical approaches what is entailed in the interpretation of meaning today? And, despite their once prominent place several generations ago, what does one make of the continuing lack of interest in the academy in naturalistic, explanatory theories of religion? This focus on method, by means of these four basic tools, therefore will provide us with an opportunity to assess the current state of the field.

The four main papers will be pre-circulated to members prior to the conference, and thus will only be summarized briefly at their sessions; the remainder of the sessions will be devoted to responses and open conversation. In addition, all of the papers will be published in a future, special issue of MTSR.

Job Opening at Utrecht University

uu-logo_0This opening in religious studies might be of interest to NAASR members:

The position is attached to the subject area Religious Studies within the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities at Utrecht University. The subject area Religious Studies offers a dynamic, research-oriented context with a strong commitment to excellence in teaching and curriculum development. Research and teaching in Religious Studies at UU is carried out in collaboration with the subject area Islam and Arabic, as well as with other programs within the Faculty of Humanities and beyond.

More details available here.

CFP: Concepts in the Study of Religion

The following new book series—published in association with NAASR—might be of interest to members; see the publisher’s site for more information.

Books in the series Concepts in the Study of Religion: Critical Primers offer brief introductions to an array of concepts—modes of analysis, tools, as well as analytic terms themselves—within the discourse of religious studies. Useful for almost any course, the volumes in the series do not attempt to assert normative understandings but rather they introduce and survey the various modes and contexts for scholarly engagement with the concept at hand. How, for example, has the term ‘myth’ been used, and what can various definitions allow us to do as scholars? Who in the field is working on the category of race and how? What might be the future of scholarship on gender in religious studies? What are the possibilities and limitations of description or comparison as methodological approaches? Thus, these critical primers provide — but are not limited to — concise overviews of the history of an approach or term. They also present the authors’ own critical analyses of the dynamics and stakes present in discourses surrounding these concepts. Featuring lists of further readings to guide additional consideration of their topic, the books in this series are valuable resources for students and advanced scholars alike.

Series Editor

K. Merinda Simmons, University of Alabama

CFP: Critiquing Religion: Discourse, Culture, Power

logo blThe following new book series might be of interest to NAASR members; download this pdf for more information.

Critiquing Religion: Discourse, Culture, Power publishes works that historicize both religions and modern discourses on ‘religion’ that treat it as a unique object of study. Using diverse methodologies and social theories, volumes in this series view religions and discourses on religion as commonplace rhetorics, authenticity narratives, or legitimating myths which function in the creation, maintenance, and contestation of social formations. Works in the series are on the cutting edge of critical scholarship, regarding ‘religion’ as just another cultural tool used to gerrymander social space and distribute power relations in the modern world. Critiquing Religion: Discourse, Culture, Power provides a unique home for reflexive, critical work in the field of religious studies.

Senior Editor

Craig Martin, St. Thomas Aquinas College

Editorial Board

Richard King, University of Kent

Bruce Lincoln, University of Chicago

K. Merinda Simmons, University of Alabama

Leslie Dorrough Smith, Avila University

Hugh Urban, Ohio State University

Program Update: Method Today

NAASR 2016 ● San Antonio, TX ● November 18-19, 2016

With the success of the 2015 NAASR program—devoted to examining the current state of theory in the study of religion with four main papers plus responses—the 2016 program will retain the same format but turn its attention instead to the closely related topic of method. And because of the wide variety of methods used in the cross-disciplinary study of religion we’re proposing narrowing the focus to four key tools that all scholars of religion surely employ, regardless their approach to the study of religion: description, comparison, interpretation, and explanation. We’re happy to announce the speakers:

Description: Naomi Goldenberg, University of Ottawa

Comparison: Aaron W. Hughes, University of Rochester

Interpretation: Kevin Schilbrack, Appalachian State University

Explanation: Ann Taves and Egil Asprem, University of California, Santa Barbara

The program committee is inviting members to consider the place of each of these in the study of religion—recognizing that examining each opens conversations on far wider topics of relevance to NAASR’s mission, such as description being intimately linked to ethnography, viewpoint, first person authority (to name but a few). In much the same way, detailed consideration of the other three tools also leads into conversations on the basics of the field (E.g., Having survived critiques of comparison as ethnocentric, what is the future of comparative studies and how ought they to be carried out? Given the once dominant, but for some now discredited, place of hermeneutical approaches what is entailed in the interpretation of meaning today? And, despite their once prominent place several generations ago, what does one make of the continuing lack of interest in the academy in naturalistic, explanatory theories of religion?) This focus on method, by means of these four basic tools, therefore provides us with an opportunity to assess the current state of the field.

As with the 2015 program, three scholars who work in a variety of subfields will respond to each of the four main papers (thereby involving 16 participants in total). The four main, pre-circulated papers will only be summarized briefly at their sessions and a large portion of the sessions will again be reserved for open conversations; the goal is that all of the papers will then be published in a special issue of MTSR. Unlike last year, however, the Program Committee will commission the four main generative papers (based on hopes that they eventually contribute to a new NAASR book series, to be announced soon).

The call this year, then, is for 12 respondents who are willing to each tackle the statements made by one of the four main papers. A successful proposal to be a respondent must address only one of the four tools—description, comparison, interpretation, or explanation—briefly demonstrating how you understand the term, challenges for its use today, and what, for you, is at stake in its deployment in a specific historical, textual, or behavioral situation. Successful proposals, then, should briefly demonstrate an awareness for how one of these tools intersects with the history of our field and our current practices, which simultaneously demonstrates your preparation to offer a challenging and thought-provoking response at this year’s upcoming meeting.

Send your 250 word (max.) abstract to

NAASR’s Vice President, Aaron Hughes (aaron.hughes@rochester.edu),

by no later than March 01, 2016

Conference Announcement: Mediation and Immediacy

The upcoming conference, Mediation and Immediacy: The Semiotic Turn in the Study of Religion, might be of interest to NAASR members; click here for program information.

MediationConferencemediation-booklet