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The Affect of Crisis:
In Janet Roitman’s book Anti-Crisis, she notes the theological underpinnings of the notion of crisis, as well as the ways naming certain things as crisis has an effect on the way we understand and address the problem — as discontinuity rather than continuity, for instance. But the subjectivity of crisis makes it no less real. Crisis is an accumulation of pressure, a breaking point, a step beyond the threshold. We seek papers that consider (or deconstruct) crises through the prism of affect; that ask after the affective dimensions of moments of political extremity; that contemplate numbness, incapacitation, burnout, or shock (as a presumed lack of affective responsiveness) as complicated knots for theories of affect; and that wonder about periodization and the affective dimensions — and perhaps the psychic necessity -- of giving moments names.

In what ways does the form or conduit of betweenness mold our understanding of the subjects or objects between which it flashes? Conversely, what are models of how and why the flow of religious affect/thought is disrupted or blocked? We seek papers that analyze or offer models of "betweenness" or "the in-between" in or of religious affect/thought (doctrinal, olfactory, visual, dialogical, sacramental, discursive, quantum, gravitational, erotic, etc)?

The Felt Materiality of Books:
Books are nothing if not objects of affection: they cull devotions ,polarize, or create shared points of contact or provide connective tissue - often irrespective of their contents. We seek papers that address "books," (construed broadly to include manuscripts, archives, and scriptural objects) as material and felt phenomenon, with an eye toward both subjective and collective affects.

On the presidential theme:
Ours is a world of increasingly deep structural inequality. In the US in particular, the divides between have and have nots are chasmic and almost always unbridgeable through the application of neoliberal virtues. The pandemic has made this reality all the more visible in the form of evictions and long food lines. In light of these structural inequalities, we are seeking papers that scrutinize and illuminate the affective currents of charity and gift-giving, especially as they are encoded as forms of piety or religiosity, and especially as they side-step or even perpetuate the very inequalities that they seek to address. Solidarity has been seen as an alternative to the charity model, as it imagines a leveling of hierarchical relation. But might solidarity function affectively and politically in ways similar to charity? We wish to refine and give more texture to the question of what such responses and redresses to material lack do to and for those who partake of them.

Feeling Images: As a co-sponsorship between the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture unit and the Religion, Affect, and Emotion unit, we invite proposals exploring the affective dimensions of visual imagery and the ways in which a more robust accounting of visuality as an emotionally laden form of (ap)perception might deepen religious studies scholars' understanding of contemporary religious belief and practice. Both theoretical and empirical projects will be considered, but extra consideration will be given to proposals that focus on the neuro-biological underpinnings of affect/emotion and its implications for inter-religious engagement and navigating differences in an increasingly polarized world.

There will also be a book session (co-sponsored with Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative) on Maia Kotrosits’ The Lives of Objects: Material Culture, Experience, and the Real in the History of Early Christianity (Chicago, 2020). Panelists will be invited.


Mission Statement:

This Unit provides space for theoretically-informed discussion of the relationship between religion, affect, and emotion. The Unit serves as a meeting point for conversations on the affective, noncognitive, and passional dimensions of religion coming from diverse fields, including anthropology, comparative religion, psychology, decolonial theory, gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, philosophy, and theology. Proposals drawing on these theoretical resources to examine specific religious traditions, shifting historical understandings of religion and affect/emotion, comparative work that looks at affective forms across traditions, and broader theoretical reflections are all welcome.

Method of Submission:

INSPIRE, E-mail with Attachment (proposal is in attachment, not in body of e-mail)



Maia Kotrosits, maiakotrosits@gmail.com

Tam K. Parker, tparker@sewanee.edu


Steering Committee:

Biko Gray, bmgray@syr.edu

M. Gail Hamner, mghamner@syr.edu

Anne Joh, anne.joh@garrett.edu

Donovan Schaefer, doschaef@upenn.edu

Jenna Supp-Montgomerie, jenna-supp-montgomerie@uiowa.edu

Marvin Wickware, marvin.wickware@lstc.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2023