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For the 2021 AAR Annual Meeting, we invite papers or complete panels on:

Moral Injury for health-care workers: while some studies about moral injury in the medical field have been produced before the pandemic, COVID-19 has exacerbated and brought to the larger public the struggles of health care workers. What has been learned in almost two years of the pandemic? What questions remain vital?

Moral Injury and hospital chaplains in the COVID-19 pandemic: What has been the role of chaplains in helping patients, their families, and medical personnel cope with the many forms of moral injury inflicted by the pandemic? What has been learned through the challenges of the last two years? How are chaplains dealing with their own moral injury?

Understanding moral injury beyond a veteran issue: How did the work in different disciplines of the last decades help us understand the complexity and possible boundaries of moral injury? What are the limits of moral injury? Are there experiences, roles, contexts where moral injury as a term may be problematic? What is moral about moral injury? What and who is injured in moral injury? How do race, class, gender, culture, etc., affect one’s experience of moral injury and repair? What are other ways to describe similar experiences?

Moral Injury, Peace Studies, and Restorative/Transformative Justice: how has the concept of moral injury been engaged in these fields? What insights, challenges and questions do they have to offer to moral injury scholars?

Moral injury and the anthropocene: is moral injury an important concept for the current and upcoming traumas and changes that are and will be created by the anthropocene and climate change?

Moral injury and racial disparity in health care: Dr. Susan Moore’s death during the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed publicly the degree to which Black people are suffering from medical racism, as Indigenous and People of Color are as well. How does the concept of moral injury help express and address the systemic devaluing of Black lives within the US medical system, in every phase of one’s life?

In connection with AAR Presidential theme for 2021, “Religion, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures,” we invite proposals on Moral Injury and Economic Inequality. How is the economic injustice embedded in capitalism the source of moral injury for people that participate in this system of exploitation, as victims, perpetrators, and often as both? Can addressing moral injury in relation to economic injustice leverage social transformation as an inescapable part of healing? What is moral injury for poverty scholars?

Co-Sponsored with the Psychology, Culture, Religion Unit:
What Do We Mean by the Word “Trauma”? An Interdisciplinary Exploration. The word "trauma" has accrued different meanings in various disciplinary contexts, with a more rapid accrual of meanings in recent years as trauma has been studied alongside related and often overlapping concepts (injury, harm, wounding, etc.). Theologians and ethicists, literary theorists, sociologists, psychoanalysts, and pastoral caregivers all engage trauma but do they mean the same thing? Definitions seem to be broader or narrower depending on whether one takes a theoretical or a clinical approach. Clinicians may use the term more specifically than theologians or ethicists. Writing on moral injury, post-traumatic growth, and trauma studies reveals multiple definitions as well, in addition to the DSM 5. This session addresses the question of what we mean by the word "trauma" and what does it matter?


Mission Statement:

The Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Unit engages interdisciplinary study on moral injury, an emerging concept which attempts to engage the impact of making difficult moral choices under extreme conditions, experiencing morally anguishing events or duties, witnessing immoral acts, or behaving in ways that profoundly challenge moral conscience and identity and the values that support them.

In examining how understandings of recovery from moral injury might illuminate post-conflict situations in many areas of the world, this unit will interrogate how educating a wider public about moral injury might challenge the role of religion in supporting war and the militarization of international and intra-national conflicts, the effects of war on combatants in post-conflict societies, and more effective means for social support in recovery from moral injury.

Contributions are welcome engaging:

• Diverse religious, cultural, and social systems and their sacred texts
• Neuroscientific approaches to ritual, moral formation, and the moral emotions
• Proposed methods for recovery, such as ritual, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, arts, community life, narrative, and interreligious cooperation
• The roles of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class, race, and other forms of oppression in relation to personal agency and theories of ethics.

Method of Submission:




Gabriella Lettini, glettini@sksm.edu

Michael Yandell, m.yandell@me.com


Steering Committee:

Jeehyun Baek, jhbaek@bu.edu

Joanne Braxton, joannebraxton@gmail.com

Nigel Hatton, nhatton@ucmerced.edu

Brian Powers, brian.s.powers@durham.ac.uk

Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon, jlydon@post.harvard.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2024