CFP: Religion, Affect and Emotion Group, The AAR and SBL

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Call for Papers: Religion, Affect and Emotion Group, The AAR and SBL Meeting Atlanta, Georgia November 21-24

The Religion, Affect and Emotion Group 2015 Call for Papers

Deadline: Monday, March 2 2015, 5:00 PM EST, through

Statement of Purpose: 

This Group provides space for theoretically-informed discussion of the relationship between religion, affect, and emotion. The Group 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.

Call for Papers: 

  • The Genealogy of Religion and Affect (for a possible co-sponsorship with the Cultural History of the Study of Religion Group): We seek papers reflecting on the longer history of studying religion and emotion (i.e. James, Durkheim, etc.) in conversation with recent theorists such as Ahmed, Berlant, Cvetkovich, and Sedgwick. What does the study of affect give us that Jamesian psychology or Durkheimian collective effervescence does not?
  • Religion, Emotion, and Belief (for a possible quad-sponsorship with Cognitive Science and Religion Group; the Science, Technology and Religion Group; the Religious Experience in Antiquity Group (SBL): How can recent approaches from the natural and social sciences help scholars of religion to better understand the religious experience of belief? Is belief a natural product of affective and cognitive processes? What role does emotion play in belief? Does the role of emotion and belief function differently in “science” and “religion”? How do religions use emotion in the cultivation of the believing religious-subject? Is there room for a model of self and subjectivity that goes beyond self-cultivation, in which a subject is being acted upon (ethics of passion)? How does work on emotions complicate or challenge the links between belief and religiosity? What are the distinct benefits and limitations to conceptualizing religious belief in these ways?
  • Affect and Activism: the politics of conviction: How are religious values linked to and altered by affective reactions to charged political issues like race, inequality, protest, and violence? How are the verbal and bodily practices of activism shaped and advanced by religious affect?
  • Affect and Literature: How does fiction help us to imagine relationships between religion and recent perspectives on affect? We are particularly interested in exploring attention to affect in recently published literature, popular and otherwise.
  • The Affects of ‘Spiritual Health’: How do Sara Ahmed’s critiques of happiness and other affect theories help us to critique the intersections of religion and medicalization or analyzing the affects of “spiritual health.”
  • Focus on Recent Scholarly Work: We seek papers critically examining Sianne Ngai’s Our Aesthetic Categories, or Eugenie Brinkema’s The Forms of Affect.
  • Affect and Race: the affective landscapes of hate: What is the role of affect(s) in the formation of racial and racist identities and relationships?



Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members


This method has helped us to ensure our group’s excellence in diversity throughout our panels.



Donovan Schaefer,

Gail Hamner,

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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