Home Annual Meeting Call for Papers Groups Religions, Medicines, and Healing
January 2013

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Call for Proposals

This Group welcomes proposals that explore specific intersections of religious and healing traditions and practices. We are particularly interested in proposals that examine the following themes:

  • Healing at the time of death, postmortem healing, or healing by and for the dead (including ancestors) across religious traditions

  • Crossing boundaries of religious or medical traditions for individual, communal, or public health goals

  • Sources for, and evaluations of, what counts as “medicine” and what counts as “healing” in historical, contemporary, and cross-cultural contexts

  • Critical analyses of the appropriation, adaptation, and transformation of specific healing modalities from various religious traditions (e.g., rituals or rites of passage, drumming circles, sweat lodge, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, qi gong) for use in psychotherapeutic or biomedical healing contexts

  • For a possible cosponsored session with the Indigenous Religious Traditions Group, any aspect of traditional indigenous medical knowledge or healing rituals and practices


The study of religions, medicines, and healing is a growing field within religious studies that draws on the disciplines and scholarship of history, anthropology (particularly medical anthropology), phenomenology, psychology, sociology, ethnic studies, ritual studies, gender studies, theology, political and economic theory, public health, bioscientific epidemiology, history of science, comparative religion, and other interdisciplinary approaches to interpret meanings assigned to illness, affliction, and suffering; healing, health, and well-being; healing systems and traditions, their interactions, and the factors that influence them; and related topics and issues. As a broad area of inquiry, this field incorporates diverse theoretical orientations and methodological strategies in order to develop theories and methods specific to the study of illness, health, healing, and associated social relations from religious studies perspectives. Although religious texts serve as important resources in this endeavor, so do the many approaches to the study of lived religion, religious embodiment and material culture, and popular expressions of religiosity. Finally, like its sister field of medical anthropology, the field of religions, medicines, and healing encourages examination of how affliction and healing affect social bodies through fractured identities, political divides, structural violence, and colonialism. We support the work of graduate students, religion scholars, scholar-activists, and scholars in allied fields. We promote collaboration with other interdisciplinary Program Units and those focused on particular traditions and/or regions.

Anonymity of Review Process

Proposer names are anonymous to Chairs and Steering Committee members until after final acceptance or rejection.


Lance D. Laird
Boston University
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Stephanie Y. Mitchem
University of South Carolina
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Method of Submission


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