‘Tis the season when academics renew their memberships or take out new membership in the various academic associations that we join to not only further our research and network with colleagues, but also to declare our professional identities (yes, which social affiliation we choose often is a statement of identity). This is true for members of the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR), the professional association that the Bulletin for the Study of Religion is affiliated with. For those who are members of NAASR—and especially for those academics considering joining NAASR—, we want to remind scholars that NAASR membership includes free online access to the Bulletin.
Access to the Bulletin, however, includes even more benefits for members—benefits that our members may not be fully aware. In a very generous gesture of support for the work of NAASR and especially the Bulletin, our publisher Equinox has offered a 25% discount to all NAASR members on Equinox books (Equinox authors, of course, instead have their usual 35% author discount). In addition to receiving access to the Bulletin, our publisher is offering members a 2017 free “companion subscription” to any other Equinox journal that they choose. Part of the goal of such an offer is to encourage greater exchanges of the research, debates, and theoretical focus that both NAASR and Equinox have been developing over the years.
To return to the idea of declaring one’s academic identity, let me say that the work we do, what we publish, critique, read, teach, and share all contribute to the broader identity formation of our profession as researchers and teachers. Joining NAASR is a statement. It is a statement that we stand for a critical, reflexive, and theoretically engaged approach to human phenomena that falls under the label “religion”. The founders of NAASR, in the articles of association, described the society’s purpose as follows: “To encourage the historical, comparative and structural study of religion in the North American community of scholars, and to promote publication of such scholarly research” (Article II(a)). In a time when confessional caretaking of religious traditions has risen and become more mainstream, when, as our current NAASR president observes in a forthcoming Bulletin article, many believe we no longer need theory (that we are in a post-theory period), I am convinced that the mission of NAASR is vital for the continued growth and contribution of the academic study of religion.
And part of that mission can be accomplished through dialogue, debate, and critique. NAASR’s founders—Luther Martin, E. Thomas Lawson, and Donald Wiebe—wisely recognized the importance of publications in shaping and directing a discipline or field of study. It is our hope that more people will join NAASR in 2017, bringing more voices, more theoretical and methodological nuance, and greater sophisticating in the study of religion as a study of historical and social processes. By granting NAASR members greater access to Equinox’s religious studies publications, including the Bulletin, we invite scholars to join the rising chorus promoting method and theory and we invite members to take advantage of such access to resources, to jump in and become engaged participants in the work of the Bulletin and, more broadly, the North American Association for the Study of Religion.