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Enrique Dussel’s Transmodernity Philosophical Project and Theology

Sunday, 1:00 PM–2:30 PM
Hyatt Regency–Hanover C*

Inspired by the work of Enrique Dussel on transmodernity and his proposal of a global philosophical project that seeks to transcend European or North American modernity and engage in dialogue with what Dussel calls “discarded, devalued, and judged useless among global cultures, including colonized or peripheral philosophies,” and by the works of other authors from the working group on globalization, modernity/coloniality, and the geopolitics of knowledge, the panel will examine some of the new voices in theology that have emerged from similar cultural contexts and their ignored potential as other ecologies of knowledge that could contribute to epistemic diversity and to the development of other ways of doing theology. Engaging the work of Lee Cormie, who has been a leading voice over the past few decades in articulating the theological significance of the new voices from the cultural margins, the panelists will give presentations on a variety of concrete historical situations and explore the potential of some emerging intercultural theologies as other possible ways of doing theology that respond to the epistemic challenges of pluralism in today’s world.

Engaging Global Issues as Public Theologians

Sunday, 1:00 PM–2:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–A704*

The Global Network for Public Theology is a network of twenty-four centers of public theology based in universities and theological schools on seven continents formed in 2007. In its short history it has developed a website, a journal, and is planning its second international meeting. The purpose of the network is to foster international communication and collaboration on global issues, particularly economic and ecological concerns. The network desires to create an additional forum from a variety of disciplines to connect around these shared interests among an expanded community of scholars on global issues that deserve our best theological thinking and leadership.

Material Scripture

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–M102*

A mass-produced Bible is both highly-designed and, to an ever-increasing degree, a “designer” object. Published Bibles that reflect the demographics of certain aspects of American culture and lifestyle preferences are becoming prevalent in the marketplace, and this trend is not necessarily well addressed by the current methods of biblical criticism. The panelists will offer varying perspectives on a more “materialist” approach to the printed Bible. These explorations of the physicality and genealogy of printed Bibles open up avenues of ideological and theological critique that stretch far back into the history of modern versions of Scripture and into the history of Western print culture itself.

The Last Frontier in Interreligious Dialogue: Dialogue with/among Fundamentalists, Theory, and Practices

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–Marquis Ballroom D*

Fundamentalism is one of the most important forces in religion today, yet dialogue with and among fundamentalists remains arguably the last unexplored frontier in contemporary interreligious dialogue. Too frequently academic interreligious dialogue excludes in practice and theory persons from religious traditions labeled apologetic, missionary, conservative, traditionalist, antimodernist, and fundamentalist. Dialogue with and among fundamentalists (broadly defined), however, is in fact going on, for the most part without significant contributions from scholars and religious leaders who advocate versions of the pluralist paradigm. This panel discussion seeks to make the case for the expansion of the circle of dialogue to include fundamentalist groups and individuals. Panelists will argue for an empathetic appreciation of the fundamentalist phenomenon as a significant aspect of contemporary religious experience. Panelists will also examine the need for and viability of dialogue between fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists and among fundamentalists themselves, citing case studies of multifaith encounters where meaningful exchange has already taken place.

Contemplative Studies: Problems and Prospects

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–M106–107*

In the context of a roundtable panel, members of the leadership group of the proposed AAR Contemplative Studies Consultation will discuss the emerging interdisciplinary field of contemplative studies, especially as it relates to the academic study of religion. Panelists will discuss contemplative practice and experience, considered inclusively and comprehensively, as well as the application of contemplative practice to academic life and university culture. Topics will include comparative meditation, contemplative pedagogy, contemplative practice, contemplative psychology, meditation and mysticism, social applications of contemplative practice, typologies of contemplative practice, as well as neuroscience and meditation. Panelists will also consider the contributions, limitations, and challenges of employing a “contemplative approach” to teaching, research, and publication in religious studies. Short presentations will be followed by open conversation.

The Participatory Turn: Studying Religion Beyond the Philosophies of Consciousness and Constructivism

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–A707*

This panel revolves around Jorge Ferrer and Jacob Sherman’s recently edited collection The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies (State University of New York Press, 2008). This text articulates an emerging academic ethos in the field of religious studies that challenges the prevalent methodological dominance of the cultural–linguistic paradigm. Ferrer and Sherman’s basic project is the integration of religious experience and practice with modern critical thinking and postmodern epistemological insights about the constructed nature of human knowledge. What emerges from this both/and endeavor is a pluralistic vision of spirituality that accepts the role of context and language in religious phenomena while simultaneously recognizing the importance of nonlinguistic factors in shaping religious experiences and affirming the ontological value of spiritual realities. Moreover, the contributors make a strong case that combining the two affords a new perspective on some of the thorniest issues in religious studies, such as the perennialist–constructivist debate over mysticism and the challenge of religious pluralism.

The Black Freedom Struggle Today: The Civil Rights Movement: Then and Now

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–Atrium A*

In 2010, the AAR will be meeting in the city of Atlanta, Georgia — considered the organizing base of the modern American civil rights movement. In this session, a public forum will take place on the state of the Civil Rights struggle, with an awareness of the burgeoning nuances of the black freedom struggle on the backdrop of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. This session will explore the legacy of the Civil Rights movement in today’s social and political context, and also the ways in which the Obama administration poses challenges and opportunities for advancing the cause of civil and human rights, particularly concerning issues of healthcare, housing reform, the prison industrial complex, public education, and the persistence of militarism. The session will also feature some of the nation’s pioneers in the area of civil and human rights, including Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, Raphael Warnock, Reverend Bernice King, and former mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin. This session will emphasize dialogue and critical reflection on contemporary issues of peace and justice in local spaces, nationally and internationally as well.

The Religion and Daily Life Project

Sunday, 5:00 PM–6:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–L503*

How exactly does religion influence politics? In what ways does religion continue to shape culture? In the 2009–2010 Religion and Daily Life Project for Praeger, prominent international scholars authored chapters on peacebuilding, civil religion, religious nationalism, education, memorialization, criminal justice, economics, science, and nature in Volume Two to identify the role of religion in public life. In Volume Three, chapters on art, healing, children, family, women, sport, travel, music, humor, and death clarify the ways that religion continues to influence culture, even in societies that claim to be secular. The AAR Annual Meeting makes it possible for the authors to join together to collate their findings and form a consensus for the first time. Following the success of the three volume set will be the opportunity for participants to design a one-volume trade paperback for use in college courses.

Theology and Technology: Intersecting Realities

Sunday, 5:00 PM–6:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–M103-104*

This session will focus on how emerging technologies shape epistemology and identity, thus destabilizing power and reshaping theological discourse. Web 2.0 technologies (wikis, blogs, RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, YouTube, etc.) highlight new identity spaces and issues of access, power, and knowledge construction. Because issues of power and access are prominent in communities of color and other marginalized communities, attention to the intersecting reality of theology and technology creates space of greater access to persons and communities who would otherwise be absent from this conversation. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, these issues will only become more complex. An ongoing AAR group dedicated to the intersection of theology and technology could provide a meaningful space in which to navigate these new realities. This initial wildcard panel session will focus on a critical analysis of the Postcolonial Theology Network (PTN), a Facebook group encouraging new models of identity and epistemology through broad and diverse theological discourse.

What’s this “Religious” in Hip-Hop Culture?: Shifting Theories and Methods in the Study of African American Religion

Monday, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–A708*

Recently published texts like KRS-One’s The Gospel of Hip Hop (Power House Books, 2009) and Rza’s The Tao of Wu (Riverhead, 2009) make use of the religious in varied ways, and in part suggests something about how the religious is taken up in hip-hop cultural forms. While it has been acknowledged that religious attention to hip-hop culture is both important and necessary, left uninterrogated is a critical examination of what the “religious” in hip-hop purports to do, and more so, how attention to hip-hop necessitates a rethinking and retheorizing of the religious in African American religious studies. Is hip-hop changing theoretical formations of the religious in African American religious studies, and if so, how? Through attention to this central question, this panel seeks to interrogate possible challenges to various theoretical foundations within African American religious studies posed by the recent turn to hip-hop as both subject of study and cultural hermeneutic.

Mapping the Social and Intellectual Boundaries of Premodern Shi’ism

Monday, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–L404*

This panel explores formative themes, social practices, and historical narratives in Shi’ism from its beginnings to the present. Each paper explores central aspects of various Shi’i traditions, and provides analysis which exemplify, nuance, or challenge central aspects of the common understanding of Shi’i tradition.

*Room locations are subject to change. Please check your Program Book onsite to confirm the location when you arrive at the Annual Meeting.


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