Comparative Approches to Religion and Violence: Call for Papers, AAR/SBL 2017


The Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Group is affiliated with the Journal of Religion and Violence. Please note that conference papers presented through this AAR program unit will be considered for publication in the journal. 

Submission due dates: March 1, 2017

For the 2017 AAR national conference and its theme of religion and the underprivileged, we seek papers that examine the intersections of religion and violence, with attention to the conditions under which religion lends itself to the justification and/or promotion of violence. Papers should demonstrate comparative or theoretical approaches. Below are our calls for next year:

1. Religion, Media, and Violence. Whether it is pop-cultural venues such as Facebook or Twitter, the Huffington Post, or traditional televised sources such as MSNBC, Fox News or CNN, the media has had made enormous impacts on people’s perceptions of religion. How has the media covered the relationship between religion and violence? How has the media affected religiously-motivated violence? What are the ways in which the media has influenced the outbreaks of or tempering of religiously-motivated violence?

2. Religion, Fantasy, and Violence. Fantasies—whether imaginative operations, narrative structures, communal illusions, media constructions, or fanciful fictions—abound in human life and culture, and intertwine with religion in ways that invite, necessitate, or mitigate violence. We seek papers to address aspects of this dynamic. How are violent and anti-violent ideologies supported by (or hindered by) fantasy? How does fantasy affect and effect violence (or peace) in religious contexts? What roles does fantasy play in the spread, cessation, or commemoration of religious violence?

3. Religion and Blasphemy. Possible co-sponsorship with the SBL program unit on Violence and Representations of Violence. Religious violence is often facilitated by the discursive constructions of “Others.” A classic mechanism for constructing Others is the charge of blasphemy, in which the Other is said to have spoken or acted in a way that is deemed sacrilegious. We invite papers that explore charges of blasphemy in religious discourse, particularly those that pay attention to the work that such charges perform in the context of (inter)religious violence, competition, or conflict.

4. Religion and Hate Crimes. Possible Co-sponsorship with the Afro-American Religious History Program Unit. The FBI reports in 2015 a dramatic rise in hate crimes across the United States. Entering into a presidential era of Donald Trump, we invite papers that examine the relationship between hate crimes and black religious groups.

5. Cross-Cultural Manifestations of Islamophobia. Possible co-sponsorship with the Contemporary Islam Group. Muslims have increasingly become targets of hate speech and violent actions worldwide. We seek papers that examine variegated ways in which Islamophobia has manifested in different regional, institutional, and religious contexts, e.g., Burmese Buddhist rhetoric about the Rohingya, Chinese discourse on the Uighur, and U.S. Christian discussions about Syrian and Sudanese Muslim immigrants.

6. Trauma, Harm, and Memory in Japanese Religions. Possible co-sponsorship with the Japanese Religions Group. This panel addresses ways concepts of harm, trauma, and related matters – including violence, damage, recovery, and reconstruction – have taken shape within Japanese religious milieus. We seek a broad range of disciplinary approaches. Papers may address doctrine, literature, institutional history, material religion (such as memorials) and/or ways religious dimensions of Japanese discourse, care initiatives, or other practices may illuminate categories linked to trauma. We seek work on a range of historical periods, and papers that engage broader theoretical inquiry into genealogies of “trauma,” “harm,” and related concepts are particularly welcome.

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