Resisting ‘Religion’

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
American Association of Religion, Western Region
contact email: 

AARWR 2019 Annual Conference
Arizona State University | March 2-3, 2019

Resisting ‘Religion’

Is it time to resist “Religion”? As an academic discipline, religious studies (RS) is experiencing balkanization due to factors such as the problematic nature of defining “religion” and of articulating a coherent RS perspective (e.g., the well-established problems with comparative projects like the “world religions paradigm”), disciplinary and economic pressures (e.g., donors’ endowments) pushing RS to fragment into area studies, and RS scholars’ adherence to entrenched theories and methodologies.
 
We welcome papers that respond to recent arguments that “religious studies” should become “worldview studies” (e.g., Taves and Asprem, 2018; Taves, Asprem, and Ihm, forthcoming; cf. Smart, 1981), and more descriptive rather than prescriptive critiques of the field of “religion” as a naturalized discipline (e.g., Asad, 2009; Barton and Boyarin, 2016; Masuzawa, 2005; McCutcheon, 1997; Nongbri, 2013; Saler, 2000). These critiques may include problems of cross-cultural and cross-temporal comparison, highlighting scholarship’s perspectival character (i.e., tensions between insider and outsider perspectives, descriptions, and explanations), studying non-“religious” religion-like phenomena (e.g., sports, entertainment, and fandom; secularisms, atheisms, and humanisms; political and economic ideologies; etc.), and religion’s epistemic privilege as a naturalized and universal institution.
 
Please send your 250-word proposals and participant forms to Nathan Fredrickson (nfredrickson@umail.ucsb.edu) and Lilith Acadia (acadia@berkeley.edu).