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This year we invite proposals on the following topics:
-Sacrifice in the Time of Plague (potentially co-sponsored with Religion and Economy Unit). During the past year, the novel coronavirus-19 virus clearly has followed existing patterns of inequality when traveling through the social body. In this, scholars have experienced and analyzed the pandemic through a variety of critical approaches, including the study of ideology and capitalist abstraction, biopolitics and the precarity of disposable populations, utopian thinking, critical race theory, and the failure to socially mourn poor and legally and culturally disenfranchised persons. We ask: what determines who lives and who dies when worlds fall apart? We invite paper proposals for a roundtable discussion featuring diverse methodological and disciplinary vantage points that somehow analyze the role of sacrifice in our time of plague.
-A possible co-sponsorship with the Lesbian-Feminisms Unit that invites papers investigating what lesbian-
feminisms might contribute to ethnographic methodologies, especially when investigating poor, queer subjectivity.
Some examples would include Matt Brim’s 2020 book Poor Queer Studies: Confronting Elitism in the University and Casey Golomski’s 2020 article "Countermythologies."
-Religion, Secularism, and the Ontological Turn. We encourage interdisciplinary proposals that bring together questions of difference and ontology as they’ve recently been theorized by scholars of affect studies, decolonial and postcolonial theory, and critical studies of religion and science.

"Getting Back to Class: The Practical and Theoretical Poverty of Religious Studies in Dealing with Inequalities"
“Pandemics, Autocracies, Neoliberal Logics, and the End of Ideas: What is the Role of Critical Religious Studies in
a Time of Crises?”

CTDR will also co-host (with Anthropology of Religion) a session on “Critical Terms for the Ethnography of
Religion,” which was postponed from 2020 and for which we do not seek submissions.

Mission Statement:

The Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion (CTDR) Unit offers an interdisciplinary and international forum for analytical scholars of religion to engage the intersection of critical theory and methodology with a focus on concrete ethnographic and historical case studies. Critical theory draws on methods employed in the fields of sociology, anthropology, history, literary criticism, and political theory in order to bring into scrutiny all kinds of discourses on religion, spanning from academic to nonacademic and from religious to nonreligious.

This Unit seeks to provide a forum in which scholars of religion from a wide range of disciplines can examine and question their disciplinary presuppositions. The work of this Unit can be placed under three main rubrics:

• Critical investigation of the categories generated and employed by the discourses on religion, such as experience, the sacred, ritual, and the various ‘isms’ that can be found in classic and contemporary studies of religion
• Analysis of new and neglected theorists and works central to the critical study of religion, including those produced in cognate fields such as anthropology, political science, or literary theory
• Theoretically-informed examination of elided and often neglected themes in religious studies, including class, race, gender, violence, legitimation, and the material basis of religion

Method of Submission:




Sean McCloud, spmcclou@uncc.edu

Kristin Scheible, scheiblk@reed.edu


Steering Committee:

William E. Arnal, warnal@hotmail.com

Richard Callahan, richardjcallahanjr@gmail.com

J. Brent Crosson, brent.crosson@utexas.edu

Roxanne Korpan, roxanne.korpan@mail.utoronto.ca

Katja Rakow, k.rakow@uu.nl

David Walker, dwalker@religion.ucsb.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 2 – Two 2-hour sessions

Next Review: 2021