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This Unit analyzes religion in both Eastern and Western Europe or related to Europe in any historical period. We encourage interdisciplinary, interreligious, and comparative approaches, and we particularly welcome submissions from members of underrepresented groups in the Academy. For the 2021 meeting we especially seek proposals related to one or more of the following themes: 

·         The reverberations and reincarnations of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement throughout Europe. As in the United States, the protests and demonstrations that occurred in the summer of 2020 in European cities were supported by a diverse range of actors and groups, including religious leaders and groups. We seek proposals that reflect on the experience, background and future of BLM in Europe as related to religion and religious actors in particular European contexts or in a comparative trans-national lens within Europe and/or with the United States. 

·         For a panel related to this year’s AAR Annual Meeting theme, “Religion, Poverty and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures,” we seek papers that discuss the various ways that religion or religious belonging has contributed to the attenuation and/or exacerbation of social inequalities in either historical or contemporary Europe, especially relating to those groups that have been historically marginalized in European contexts (i.e. women, immigrants, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, Jews, Muslims, etc.). Papers that connect this topic to the above topic of the BLM protests would be especially welcome.

·         For a possible co-sponsorship with the "Space, Place, and Religion Unit": The role of sacred places in contemporary European society and culture. Responses toward sacred places often reveal unarticulated attitudes toward the place and role of religious minorities and implicit frames of reference toward debates on religion and secularism. We seek papers that reflect on particular sacred sites, including their symbolic, material, and theoretical dimensions; programs and practices toward protecting, preserving, and/or mythologizing sacred places and religious heritage; practices of pilgrimage, with special reference to the new realities of brought on by COVID travel restrictions; and new frameworks for reflecting on the role of sacred places in 21st century European society and culture. 

·         For a possible co-sponsorship with the "History of Christianity Unit": Excommunication as a political and social (as well as a religious and theological) act within the European context. In 1521, Pope Leo X formalized Martin Luther's excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church, one of the most politically consequential acts of religious exclusion in European history. In order to interrogate the ongoing relevance of this historical moment, we seek chronologically and geographically diverse proposals that address excommunication as a political and social (as well as a religious and theological) act in the context of Europe. Proposed papers might address: the formation and enforcement of community norms and boundaries; negotiations of religious, political, or ethnic identities, whether individual or collective; relationships between religious centers and peripheries; the creation of new religious communities and movements; mechanisms of social and religious discipline; and the wider social implications of religious innovation and dissent. We would also welcome papers that discuss the continuing historical effects of the Protestant Reformation--and the results of this separation of Martin Luther from the Catholic Church--on the shape of Europe.

·         The changes in the religious landscape in Ireland over the past century, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the end of the Irish War of Independence (1921). We are especially looking for papers that address any of the following themes: overall changes in the religious landscape of Ireland and Northern Ireland over the past century; the relationship of Irish religious culture and traditions to the political relationship of Ireland with the UK and/or Brexit; the relationship of religion, and especially the Catholic Church, to politics of gender and/or abortion in Ireland; or, for a comparative panel, the way other traditionally Catholic European countries have navigated similar politics of gender and/or abortion.

·         Shifting religious identities in Europe, historical or contemporary, especially as related to patterns of (im)migration; ethno-religious identity dynamics; and/or national, nationalist, or populist discourses concerning religion, national identity, ethnicity, race, immigration, or similar.

We also welcome proposals that do not correspond to these themes, as well as proposals for complete pre-arranged sessions related to Europe in some fashion. Successful pre-arranged sessions will reflect gender and racial/ethnic diversity as well as diversity of field, method, and scholarly rank as appropriate.

Mission Statement:

This Unit is designed to serve as a forum for the examination of religious issues related to the social, cultural, and political development of both Eastern and Western Europe. Its guiding principles include a commitment to scholarly dialogue across disciplines, a comparative spirit sensitive to Europe’s religious diversity, and a transhistorical appreciation of the full trajectory of the European experience.

Method of Submission:




Carol Ferrara, carol_ferrara@emerson.edu

Jonathan Teubner, jonathan.teubner@acu.edu.au


Steering Committee:

Elissa Cutter, ecutter@georgian.edu

Tyson Herberger, tyson.herberger@inn.no

Karsten Lehmann, karsten.b.lehmann@t-online.de

John McCormack, jmccormack@aurora.edu

Ines A. Murzaku, murzakui@shu.edu

Katarzyna Zielinska, katarzyna.zielinska@uj.edu.pl


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2022