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The Steering Committee of the Religion in South Asia (RISA) Unit invites colleagues to submit proposals for the 2021 AAR Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. RISA’s mission is to provide a venue for new research on the many religious cultures, literatures, and histories of South Asia. We have a strong preference for sessions in which the papers cover a range of South Asian traditions, regions, and languages. Some themes already identified as potential papers sessions are listed below — please contact the associated colleagues for details about potential collaboration. Panels and papers are also encouraged that respond to the 2020 AAR Presidential Theme: "Religion, Poverty, and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures."

The RISA steering committee accepts full panel submissions only (i.e. Papers Sessions), with the (usual) exception of papers for the New Directions panel. (Please note that RISA will *not* be accepting new papers for the New Directions panel for 2021 as the panel from 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19.) For the 2021 Annual Meeting, RISA has a flexible allotment of panel formats: three 2-hour sessions and three 90-minute sessions. RISA can also sponsor one additional 2-hour paper session if it is co-sponsored with another Unit. Please plan your proposals accordingly.


In your proposal, you may specify your preferred panel format (120 or 90 minutes) but the time allotted for accepted panels varies based on the overall programming needs. In the past, 120-minute panels have usually consisted of 6 participants (4 paper presenters, a discussant or respondent, and a presider), and 90-minute panels have consisted of 4 or 5 participants (3 paper presenters, a presider, and perhaps a respondent). However, creative formats are encouraged, such as roundtables, paired papers with no respondent, pre-circulated papers, and so on. If relevant, list any potential co-sponsoring Unit with your proposal. All Papers Session Panel Proposals must be submitted through the INSPIRE system on the AAR website.


If you are looking for collaborators towards proposing a panel session, please feel free to reach out to colleagues on the RISA listserv, to contact the RISA co-chairs for assistance (Sarah Pierce Taylor [sptaylor@uchicago.edu] and Jenn Ortegren [jortegren@middlebury.edu]), or to email the colleagues listed below if there is a topic that is interesting to you.


Mission Statement:

This Unit’s mission is to provide a venue for new and important research in the many religious cultures, texts, and histories of South Asia. Within the area of South Asia, all world religions exist in unique forms, from religions that originated in India — such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Tantra, and tribal religions — to religions that have taken on longstanding and distinctive forms in South Asia — such as Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The focus of our work is thus on a geographical area, the religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions of that area, and changes that have occurred in those traditions over several millennia. Scholars of South Asia explore the distinctive manifestations of religious traditions in the subcontinent, their interactions, and their movements to and expressions in other parts of the world. This Unit encourages contextualizing religion within debates on a broad array of parallel and intersecting issues, such as (but not limited to) politics, secularism, literature, philology, globalization, modernity, colonialism and postcolonialism, history, society, media, popular culture, material and visual culture, and economics. Our scholarship often emphasizes sessions and papers that look at more than one tradition and thus frequently entail some degree of comparative approach. Our website is https://risa.arizona.edu/. We also have a listserv, which is essential to the work of our Unit. Information on joining the listserv can be found on our website.

Method of Submission:




Jennifer Ortegren, jennortegren@gmail.com

Sarah Pierce Taylor, sptaylor@uchicago.edu


Steering Committee:

Arun Brahmbhatt, arun.brahmbhatt@gmail.com

Ayesha Irani, ayesha.a.irani@gmail.com

Jamal Jones, jamal.and.jones@gmail.com

Bhakti Mamtora, bmamtora@wooster.edu

Karen Ruffle, karen.ruffle@utoronto.ca

Dheepa Sundaram, dheepa.sundaram@du.ed

Anand Venkatkrishnan, anand.venkatkrishnan@gmail.com


Session Allotment: Tier 5 – Three 2-hour sessions and three 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2021