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Colloquium announcement and call for papers: Religion & Theology Colloquium

“Towards a Different Reformation”
Date: Wednesday 29 – Friday 31 August 2018
Venue: Council Chambers, University of Johannesburg

The Reformation in Europe that started with Martin Luther nailing his “95 theses” to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, unleashed (arguably) the second big split in Christendom, and fractured the loose confederation of polities that constituted Western Europe and Western Christendom. The celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 coincided with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, as well as the centenary of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Within political theory and history, Protestantism has often been seen as crucial to the development of capitalism as the dominant economic and political form in the 18th century.

Consequently, the 150th anniversary of Das Kapital and the centenary of the Russian Revolution afford a unique opportunity for scholars of religion and theology to recalibrate the way in which the Reformation and the origins of Protestantism are conceived, understood, and theorized. Whereas the history of Christian theological thinking casts the Reformation often primarily as a religious and theological event, we propose, rather to consider the Reformation as an iconic event, as discourse, as a series of contested social and ideological formations. As embedded in and as an epiphenomenon of shifts in Europe from the High Middle Ages to the Early Modern period, the Reformation is not to be understood as a singular event.

From the vantage point of a materialist framework we consider the reception history of the Reformation as an idea and concept through the long duration of performances of the Reformation, such that the colloquium not only considers it as an event in the past, but also considers the Reformation as a continually imagined cypher in service of various kinds of interests.

To get the question of the social, political, and theological force of contested inheritances of iconic events into greater focus, the colloquium is specifically not taking place in the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation but in the year following, so as to emphasize that reflection on the celebrations of the anniversary is itself part of our rethinking the Reformation.

In doing so, we draw on theories of religion and the social that are significantly informed by concepts of discourse. Discourse is understood here as the production of (religious) expressions and artefacts as well as the scholarship on such (religious) expressions as operations embedded in the field of discourse, that is, products of and producers of sets of representations (which range from the spoken word, text, gesture, ritual, religious spaces, and the rhythms of life as hidden persuasions), including the social locations that form the originary matrices for the particular inventions of these sets of representations. Thus, discourse includes, as well, the social interests encompassed/encapsulated in and giving rise to these sets of representations, in addition to the logic governing the interrelations between these factors or aspects. Discourse also encompasses the institutionalizations of such “domained” representations in canons of tradition, schools of thought, habitus as habituated action, social formations, cultural and socio-political-economic conventions, that is, as discursive formations.

Papers are invited that investigate the Reformation as historical event (especially addressing the question: what is an event?); and theorizing the Reformation as a discursive event; re-embedding the Reformation (and its reception or effective history) into trajectories of social redefinitions, economic interests, and politico-cultural formations. Papers should particularly consider the imagined Reformation as it continues to inflect contemporary constructions of Christian discourses and identity formations (including reflections on the 500th anniversary celebrations themselves). The emphasis will fall on the human agencies and the various power plays and power effects that underlie the construction of the historical process named the Reformation. In addition, papers should investigate the technologies of discourse production underlying these social redefinitions.

Selected papers from the colloquium will be published in Religion & Theology. A Journal of Contemporary Religious Discourse (Brill).

Conference fee: ZAR 800.00
Due date for proposals, abstracts: Friday 6 April 2018
Contact: Prof. Gerhard van den Heever or Prof. Maria Frahm-Arp
All inquiries and submission of proposals: reformation2018@gmail.com

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

Call for Papers: 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.

The program committee is therefore 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

Note: based on the success of the 2015 workshop, a NAASR jobs workshop will also be offered in 2016, organized again by Mike Graziano; more information on this will be circulated at a later date.

Click here for a pdf of this call for papers.

Call for Papers: Religion and Movement

movement

An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
University of Chicago Divinity School
April 15-16, 2016
Keynote Speaker: Professor Thomas Tweed

The University of Chicago Divinity School is pleased to announce its first annual Graduate Student Conference, to be held on April 15th and 16th, 2016. This year’s theme is “Religion and Movement.” We understand the definitions of the conference’s constitutive categories—“religion” and “movement”—to be highly contingent and contestable, and therefore to be open to a multitude of varied interpretations. We invite papers that consider these topics from all disciplinary and methodological orientations. Papers may address any number of traditions, geographies, or historical time periods, but should involve sustained and self-conscious theoretical reflection on the conference themes.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to: immigration and/or migration; diaspora; pilgrimage; dance; ritual performance; spirit possession; movement within/between public and/or private spaces; embodied engagement with architecture or other material objects; the movement of capital or material culture.

Graduate students interested in applying to the conference should submit a CV and a paper abstract of 300-500 words to [uchidivinitygradconference@gmail.com] by January 15th, 2015. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by January 31st, 2016. We encourage students from all fields and all levels of graduate study with interdisciplinary interests in the study of religion to submit proposals. We are eager to support and engage the work of students who identify as members of groups typically under-represented in academia. Some financial support may be available to those students who require aid in order to attend.

We welcome any questions applicants might have and invite you to communicate directly with the organizing committee, which is made up of doctoral students from a number of the Divinity School’s subfields. Questions may be sent to us at [uchidivinitygradconference@gmail.com].

Call for Papers: Religious Studies and Theology

Religious Studies and Theology—a journal for which several NAASR members serve on the editorial board—is looking for submissions. This peer-reviewed journal publishes in June and December; however manuscripts are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Religious Studies and Theology welcomes original research pertinent to the contemporary world from a range of disciplines, with a particular interest in Canadian perspectives and/or studies of Canada from abroad and in relation to global contexts.

Manuscript submission is easily completed online here. Submissions are sent by the Editor to two peer-reviewers in a double-blind process. You will be notified within one week of submission if your manuscript has been sent for review. You will be notified of the decision within approximately three months and will be provided with a copy of reviewer comments.