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1.      A possible co-sponsored session with Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Unit on religion, secularism, and the ontological turn. We encourage interdisciplinary proposals that bring together questions of difference and ontology as they’ve recently been theorized by scholars of affect studies, decolonial and postcolonial theory, and critical studies of religion and science.

2.      A possible author-meets-critics session on the work of Janet Jakobsen, particularly her recent monograph The Sex Obsession: Perversity and Possibility in American Politics (NYU, 2020)

3.      A roundtable on future directions for the study of secularism/secularity. This panel, originally scheduled for AAR 2020, is designed to bring together junior and established scholars for a conversation on the topic. While some of its participants will roll over from the previous year, we also invite emerging scholars making interventions in interdisciplinary secular studies to put forward proposals for inclusion on this panel.

Mission Statement:

The Secularism and Secularity Unit explores a broad a set of questions associated with the secular, including its complex entanglements with religion and spirituality. This inquiry entails the study of political secularism and its role in the construction of religion, as well as the study of secular people, who can be described with a variety of labels including atheist, agnostic, humanist, and freethinker. It also includes an ongoing reappraisal of the historical transformations named by “secularization,” which signal the emergence of the modern and presuppose a break from the premodern. The group fosters new directions in secular studies by encouraging theoretically informed research that makes empirical contributions and engages with the subfield’s rapidly growing interdisciplinary literature.

Method of Submission:




Lucia Hulsether, lhulseth@skidmore.edu

Bradley Onishi, bradley.b.onishi@gmail.com


Steering Committee:

Noreen Khawaja, noreen.khawaja@yale.edu

Elayne Oliphant, elayne.oliphant@nyu.edu

Mona Oraby, moraby@amherst.edu

Leigh E. Schmidt, leigh.e.schmidt@wustl.edu

Jonathan Sheehan, sheehan@berkeley.edu

Eric Stephen, eric_stephen@mail.harvard.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2023