CFP: Entheogenic Religions—Proposed Panel for the 2017 American Academy of Religion Annual Conference [Boston, Nov 18-21]

deadline for submissions: 
February 22, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
American Academy of Religion Annual Conference Proposed Panel

We are currently soliciting papers to diversify and finalize a proposed panel for the 2017 American Academy of Religion Annual Conference. Please see below for a full description of the panel.

We are looking for additional panelists and/or someone who is interested in acting as a respondent.

Please submit paper proposals of approximately 300 words along with an abbreviated CV or short biography to the following email no later than Wednesday, February 22, 2017:

Final decisions will be emailed no later than Monday, February 27.

Panel Description: Entheogenic Religions: Substance Use and Embodied Consciousness

Over the past few decades the use of entheogens (psychoactive substances that foster altered mental and physical states) has attracted attention from many sectors of religious studies.  Responding to an implicit negative bias present in many academic appraisals of religious substance use, Wouter Hanegraaff has called for critical reappraisal of “entheogenic religion,” arguing that Protestant assumptions about what counts as “genuine religion” have colored these interpretations. Instead, Hanegraaff suggests that we consider “the claim that modifying brain activity by chemical means might be a [legitimate] religious pursuit.” By offering entheogenic practitioners the same dignity and careful consideration as other varieties of religion, he suggests that we may overcome our “inherited blind spots.”

This panel takes up Hanegraaff's call for a robust and more nuanced engagement with entheogenic religion, bringing together papers that explore the interplay of substances, bodies, techniques, and social contexts in shaping religious identities, doctrines, practices, and subjectivities. We argue that consciousness, however defined, is ultimately a product of embodiment. Entheogenic substances may interact with human physiology in ways that alter the experience of consciousness, shifting the religious outlook of partakers.