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Call Text:

We invite proposals from the full range of ethnographic theories and methods exploring diverse traditions, regions, topics, periods, and standpoints from across the disciplines of Anthropology and Religious Studies.

The steering committee has identified the following areas to be of particular interest for individual and panel submissions for the 2021 meetings:

Religion & (Dis)Connected Lives. How have religious communities experienced, managed, struggled with, and responded to forms of social disruption and isolation, both before the COVID-19 pandemic and during?

Borders, Boundaries, and Borderlands in Middle Eastern Christianity. The Anthropology of Religion unit, in collaboration with the Middle Eastern Christianity unit, is soliciting papers addressing the theme of borders, boundaries, and borderlands. Papers should consider contestations of space and religiosity related to the nation-state or other spaces variously conceived, including the creation or contestation of sacred space in diaspora settings and the use of religious art and music to mark communal boundaries. Priority will be given to papers addressing this theme from an anthropological perspective.

Religion under Pandemics: Practices, Memories, and Affects (Co-sponsored by the Anthropology of Religion, Religion, Memory, and History, and Body and Religion units.) Our units invite proposals that investigate how pandemics as well as societies’ attempts to manage or mitigate their impact (e.g. quarantines, ways of treating the afflicted, memorializing the dead, etc.) intersect with people’s religious lives, narratives about the past or sites of memory, and embodied experiences by foreclosing certain established practices as well as by opening up new spaces for devotional experimentation and meaning-making. We are especially interested in papers that place contemporary ethnographic work on COVID-19 in conversation with historical cases (and vice-versa), and/or which foreground how different methodological and theoretical approaches might help us make better sense of the roles religion plays under the extraordinary social circumstances of a pandemic.

Social Lives of Religious Language. We welcome proposals that engage with ethnographic, archival, and/or discourse analyses of verbal art and/or the materiality of language in religious life. We also welcome proposals that explore linguistic and metapragmatic dynamics of (mis)translation, inclusion and exclusion.

Religion & the Arts. Critical explorations of religious artistry and processes of cultural production at the intersection of religion, art, and public life.

Further, we encourage panel proposals that use creative and alternative formats that elevate critical dialogue and engage multiple senses, for example:

Flash Formats. An increased number of presenters are allotted ~5 minutes, followed by a robust, guided discussion.

Sensory Props. Presenters engage with a material form that bears fieldwork significance, such as physical objects, visual images, and/or sound recordings.

Mission Statement:

This Unit draws together scholars who utilize the methodological tools and theoretical perspectives of anthropology in the study of religion as a social and cultural phenomenon. Given the increasing importance of anthropology and ethnography for the academic study of religion, we serve the academy as an important forum for sustained discussion and critique of anthropological approaches that can connect scholars working on diverse traditions, regions, and eras who otherwise might not have the opportunity to learn from each other. Interested members are encouraged to join our (low volume) list-serv:

Method of Submission:




James Bielo, bielojs@miamioh.edu

Jennifer A. Selby, jselby@mun.ca


Steering Committee:

Eric Hoenes Del Pinal, ehoenes@uncc.edu

Hanna H. Kim, hannakim@adelphi.edu

Sarah King, kingsar1@gvsu.edu

Alyson Prude, mprude13@hotmail.com

Brendan Jamal Thornton, brendan_thornton@unc.edu

Sarah Tobin, sarah.tobin@cmi.no


Session Allotment: Tier 2 – Two 2-hour sessions

Next Review: 2024