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As always, the Law, Religion, and Culture Unit welcomes proposals for individual papers, papers sessions, and roundtable panel proposals, including author-meets-critics sessions, on any aspect of the cultural, historical, critical, and comparative study of the intersections of law and religion in Asia, Africa, Europe, or the Americas, including legal categories in religious traditions, the treatment of religion within legal traditions, human rights, and freedom of religion. We welcome explorations of “formal” law that directly intersects with states and “informal” law that does not.

This year, our unit particularly invites proposals that address the following broad themes related to the conference location and theme Religion, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures.

Borderlands, Sovereignty, and Migration: Questions regarding sovereignty, land, walls, cages, criminal justice, and law enforcement have dominated headlines. We seek papers investigating the various ways religion and law intersect in the lived experiences of people on all sides of these complicated cultural issues.

COVID-19 and Religious Freedom and Social Justice: Individuals interpreted the pandemic in many ways. For some, the health and social restrictions and pressure to vaccinate were an infringement on their religious freedom. They sought recourse both in and outside the courts. For other religious communities, their observation of the inequity sparked engagement with (or negotiation around) bureaucratic systems to do what was not happening (remember the long lines of hungry people in San Antonio last September). We seek papers that provide insight into the many ways COVID-19 impacted religion, law, and people during the pandemic.

Climate Change and Environmentalism: Climate change effects poor populations disproportionately. Our unit is interested in various efforts around the world to combat climate change involving religion, law, and culture. For example, recent global wave of granting legal personhood to non-humans (waterways, trees, animals).

Religion and Race: Our unit invites papers interrogating the role of religion, race, and law in the following (but not limited to) the Black Lives Matter Movement, White Nationalists movements, the Border Wall advocacy, the Muslim Ban Executive Order.

For possible co-sponsorship with the New Religious Movements section: on the use of anti-cult terminology and language to prosecute and adjudicate fringe religious groups, specifically, such as NXIVM, the Church of Body Modification, and the Church of Marijuana, and religious traditions, in general.


Mission Statement:

This Unit is interested in the cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and comparative studies of the interrelationships of law and religion. The terms “law” and “religion” are broadly conceptualized and our interests have extended to include ancient and contemporary contexts and a wide variety of critical approaches. We hope to instigate consideration of religion and law issues at the AAR beyond issues concerning religious freedom and the United States Constitution.

Method of Submission:




Spencer Dew, spencerdew@gmail.com

Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand, jenna.gray-hildenbrand@mtsu.edu


Steering Committee:

Sultan Doughan, sultan.doughan@gmail.com

Leslie Ribovich, lribovich@transy.edu

Alexander Rocklin, alex.k.rocklin@gmail.com

Benjamin Schonthal, ben.schonthal@otago.ac.nz

Nicholas Shrubsole, nicholas.shrubsole@ucf.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 2 – Two 2-hour sessions

Next Review: 2025