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Student Town Hall Meeting: Come, Listen, Learn, Get Involved!

Saturday, 9:00 AM–11:30 AM
Marriott Marquis–M304*

Sponsored by the Graduate Student Committee.

Students comprise one third of the membership of the AAR. We bring renewed vitality and fresh perspectives to the study of religion. And, yes, we know how to have a good time. Can we shape the future of the Academy? Yes we can! Join us for our Student Town Hall, a forum where you can offer your suggestions, hear about new initiatives led by the Graduate Student Committee, and get a preview of this year’s student-focused programming. Topics about which we are most concerned include: how you can be involved in the AAR; ways you can be a force for positive change in your department; and of course, how you can secure research funding and navigate the career search. Our future is full of promise.

Bondage and Liberation: Questioning Debts to Slavery and Enslavement to Debt

Saturday, 9:00 AM– 11:30 AM
Hyatt Regency–Hanover E*

Sponsored by the American Lectures in the History of Religions.

Few ideas carry greater resonance in a variety of religious traditions, literatures, and practices than the twinned conceptions of bondage and liberation. And few patterns bear greater poignancy in this postcolonial moment than the seemingly endless cycle of bondage, liberation, and renewed forms of oppression. This is the disturbing antiprogressive undertone of the Modern that came into singular focus during the French Revolution and its aftermath: today’s liberators become the oppressors of tomorrow; the guillotine is placed in the service of human rights; the world Camus imagined, one with “neither victims nor executioners,” fails to materialize. Building on the 2009 AAR/ALHR panel’s interest in “the nexus of religion and colonialism,” this panel explores the themes of bondage and liberation with a particular focus on the connections among religions and economies. The panel will point to new theoretical possibilities opened by renewed attention to economic and class concerns in the study of the history of religions in our “new” age of globalization.

LGBTIQ Mentoring Lunch

Saturday, 11:45 AM–12:45 PM
Hyatt Regency–Lenox*

Sponsored by the Status of LGBTIQ Persons in the Profession Task Force.

All graduate students and junior scholars who identify outside of normative gender histories and/or sexualities are welcome to join us for an informal lunch. No fee or preregistration is required; please bring your own lunch.

Overcoming Institutional Resistance to Underrepresented Scholarship

Saturday, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–M106-107*

Sponsored by the Status of Women in the Profession Committee.

This Special Topics Forum will focus on barriers to and strategies for promoting and disseminating insurgent, undisciplinary, paradigm-shifting intellectual projects in the academy. The intent is not so much to focus on career survival strategies for individual academics, but to speak about the politics of what knowledge and methodologies are legitimized in the academy, which types of intellectual projects are allowed for different kinds of scholars, and what strategies can be employed to further intellectual projects that may be subversive to the patriarchal, racist, imperial, and capitalist status quo.

Beyond the Rainbow Generation?: Religion and Pluralism in a Globalized World

Saturday, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–L506*

Sponsored by the International Connections Committee.

Religious and cultural diversity has evolved from, at times, parochial efforts to encourage members of the majority culture in the world to move beyond their comfort zone to face new challenges as we struggle to forge a world community out of disparate individuals connected by globalization and commodification. What are the challenges we face as a world community and how might we meaningfully rethink our new roles and collective responsibilities as global citizens? In what ways do religions help and/or hinder these idea(l)s of and efforts for a world community? How do people of faith seeking to participate as responsible global citizens evoke their faith traditions as inspiration in this quest and, conversely, how might loyalty of and commitment to respective faith tradition inhibit their quest for global citizenship? In addition to religious pluralism, what about pluralisms that exist within a religious tradition? What might these intrareligious pluralisms signify in terms of possibilities and limitations for community?

How to Get Published

Saturday, 1:00 PM–3:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–A703*

Sponsored by the Publications Committee.

Based on notions that scholars have an understanding of the books needed in the fields of religion, religious studies, and theology, the AAR publishing program with Oxford University Press (OUP) produces quality scholarship for religious scholars and their students. OUP is an outstanding international publisher and the AAR has published hundreds of titles, many of which have become critical tools in the development of our fields and in training new scholars. AAR/OUP books include five published series: Academy Series; Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series; Religion, Culture and History Series; Religion in Translation Series; and Teaching Religious Studies Series. This panel provides an opportunity to hear from experienced OUP and AAR editors, and to ask any and all questions you might have regarding the AAR/OUP series. Also, the JAAR Editor will discuss essay publishing. You will have opportunities to speak with individual editors. In addition, come meet an author who has journeyed from start to finish in the publishing process and can answer your most pressing questions.

Making the Case for the Importance of Religion

Saturday, 4:00 PM–6:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–L401-402*

Sponsored by the Academic Relations Committee.

At a time when it is clear that religion needs to be taught in colleges and universities now more than ever, colleges and universities are threatening to eliminate faculty or whole departments and to reduce the role of religion in the general education curriculum. This Special Topics Forum will address the difficulties faced by departments of religion and discuss ways to reverse this trend, such as taking advantage of the way in which the field is emerging (comparative, interdisciplinary, critical, etc.) in ways that mirrors what the American Association of Colleges and Universities sees as central to the future of higher education.

Is the God Beat Dead?

Saturday, 4:00 PM–6:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–A703*

Sponsored by the Public Understanding of Religion Committee.

This panel of scholars and journalists will examine the evolution of religion coverage in various media, including the social, political, and economic factors shaping the media treatment of religion.

The Past, Present, and Future of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession

Sunday, 9:00 AM–11:30 AM
Marriott Marquis–A704*

Sponsored by the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession Committee.

This Special Topics Forum addresses the state of religion scholars of color within the AAR. Leading the session are the past chairs of the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession Committee (REM). The panelists will discuss the difficulties scholars of color have historically faced and the problems they presently must overcome. In addition, they will explore the challenges and obstacles that the future may bring.

Rethinking Indigeneity in the Age of Globalization

Sunday, 9:00 AM–11:30 AM
Marriott Marquis–M302*

Sponsored by the International Connections Committee.

The construction of the category of “indigeneity” is inextricably connected with colonialism and imperialism. Conquerors, settlers, missionaries, and capitalist entrepreneurs saw “the indigenous” in opposition to their universal and developed civilizations and religions. Whether the indigenous was understood as the decadent or noble savage, “indigeneity” always carried what Johannes Fabian calls “a denial of coevalness;” that is, an othering of the indigenous in time and space. Today, globalization exacerbates the symbolic violence and power asymmetries generated by colonialism. The local knowledge and religions of indigenous peoples are often expropriated to become the raw material for deterritorialized and heavily commodified religious movements that circulate through global electronic media. At the same time, ancestral lands and livelihoods of indigenous peoples are threatened by rapid economic change and ecological degradation. Globalization’s “time-space compression” has also put various peoples in each other’s backyards, challenging the colonial denial of coevalness. Thus, indigenous actors can now have access to global media to build transnational networks of resistance and solidarity on the basis of emerging pan-indigenous identities. Panelists on this forum will explore critically the genealogy of and contradictions within the category of “indigeneity,” as well as religion’s changing role in the articulation and (de)construction of this category.

AAR Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K–12 Public Schools in the United States: Responses from Teachers and Teacher Educators

Sunday, 9:00 AM–11:30 AM
Marriott Marquis–M303*

Sponsored by the Religion in the Schools Task Force.

In April of 2010, the AAR Board approved the AAR Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K–12 Public Schools in the United States. This was the culmination of a three-year initiative guided by the AAR Religion in the Schools Task Force and involved teachers, teacher educators, and the full membership of the AAR. Once the Guidelines were published, members of the Task Force invited selected teachers and teacher educators who were not part of the vetting process to share the document with colleagues and to try to implement some of the recommended suggestions. This panel will feature some of those educators who will offer reflections about the usefulness of the Guidelines in their contexts.

SWP, REM, and LGBTIQ Women’s Mentoring Lunch

Sunday, 11:45 AM–12:45 PM
Marriott Marquis–Marquis Ballroom C*

Sponsored by the Status of Women in the Profession Committee, the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession Committee, and the Status of LGBTIQ Persons in the Profession Task Force.

We invite women who are graduate students and new scholars to a luncheon with over thirty womanist and feminist midcareer and senior scholars. Women will have the opportunity to mentor and be mentored in a context where every question is valued. The lunch costs $10 per person; sorry, no refunds. Registration is limited to 100. Register at www.aarweb.org/Jump/WomensMentoring.

How to Propose a New Program Unit

Sunday, 1:00 PM–2:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–L405-406*

Sponsored by the Program Committee.

Join the Director of Meetings for an informal chat about upcoming Annual Meeting initiatives as well as the guidelines and policies for proposing a new program unit.

Conversation with Bobbi Patterson, 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award Winner

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

Sponsored by the Teaching and Learning Committee and the Teaching Religion Section.

The Teaching and Learning Committee is pleased to announce Barbara (Bobbi) Patterson is the recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award. Patterson, a senior lecturer in the department of religion at Emory University, will make remarks and engage questions and answers from the audience.

Roundtable on Online Publishing

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

Sponsored by the Publications Committee.

With the emergence of twenty-first century technology, texting, electronic media, and databases as source material, all interested persons — from kindergarten through high school and college, to interested novices and scholars, scholars of religion, religious studies, and theology — must be aware of the variety of ways one can pursue publishing opportunities. Many scholars move from journal articles and book chapters to complete volumes. With accessibility to the Kindle and iPads for reading materials, scholars must be cognizant of online publishing — the strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and challenges of using this medium for publishing. This session focuses on online publication. For example, Religious Studies News and other religious newsletters, blogs, and informational websites are proliferating (see www.religiondispatches.org, www.practicalmattersjournal.org, and the Methodist Studies Journal website). Many scholarly journals are making the move from print to online/print models, or even moving to online only. This session will explore the dynamics of online publishing by editors and writers working in that modality for publishing.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Lessons from Academic Life from Those Who have Gone Before

Sunday, 3:00 PM–4:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–L401-402*

Sponsored by the Graduate Student Committee and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

This panel will feature four scholars from different fields at various stages in their academic careers. They will be sharing their “hindsight” wisdom on issues such as teaching, completing the dissertation, publishing, getting the first job, tenure-process issues, balancing family and academics, and much, much more! The panel will answer a set of questions posed by the moderator, with plenty of time for questions and discussion from the audience. A light reception will be provided by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

The Marty Forum: Elaine Pagels

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

Sponsored by the Public Understanding of Religion Committee.

The recipient of the 2010 Martin E. Marty Public Understanding of Religion Award is Elaine Pagels, Harrington Spear Paine Foundation professor of religion at Princeton University. Perhaps best known as the author of The Gnostic Gospels (Random House Publishing, 2004), The Origin of Satan (Vintage Books, 1996), and Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (Vintage Books, 1989), Pagels has published widely on Gnosticism and early Christianity and continues to pursue research interests in late antiquity. Her most recent books include Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2004; was on the New York Times bestseller list) and Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity, coauthored with Karen L. King (Penguin Group, 2007). The Marty Forum provides an informal setting in which Pagels will talk about her work with Karen King, Hollis professor of divinity, Harvard University.

Conversation with Ena Heller, 2010 AAR Religion and the Arts Award Winner

Sunday, 5:00 PM–6:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–Atrium Ballroom A*

Sponsored by the Religion and the Arts Award Jury.

Ena Heller has been named the 2010 Religion and the Arts Award winner. She is the Executive Director of the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York City. Heller’s professional career has focused on building places of learning within museums. Heller learned the workings of various museum departments through jobs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. She then focused her attention on establishing new places of learning through art, first at the Gallery at the American Bible Society (1998), and later as founding director of the Museum of Biblical Art (2005). MOBIA was conceived as a learning museum, whose unique mission is illustrated by noteworthy exhibitions and publications. At MOBIA and elsewhere Heller has presented papers and public lectures that emphasize the need for teaching art, and the connection between art and religion. In parallel, her independent scholarly research has resulted in contributions to volumes such as Margins: Women of the Hebrew Bible and their Afterlives (Sheffield Phoenix Press Limited, 2009), and Women’s Space: Patronage, Place, and Gender in the Medieval Church (State University of New York Press, 2005).

The Job Market for Academic Positions in Religious Studies: Recession, Depression, or Paradigm Shift?

Sunday, 5:00 PM–6:30 PM
Marriott Marquis–M106-107*

Sponsored by the Job Placement Task Force.

The market for academic positions in religious studies has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was a shift away from advertised positions in subfields that used to constitute the heart of the discipline (e.g., theology, New Testament) and towards a range of new subfields. With the world economic crisis, the number of positions listed through the AAR online Job Postings, and the Annual Meeting’s Job Center declined by as much as fifty percent over a twelve-month period. AAR President Ann Taves has made the shifting academic job market and the deep challenges it poses to the current generation of graduating doctoral students in the field one of the signature issues of her presidency. This session will explore the current state of the job market in religious studies by means of the latest data from just-completed surveys of doctoral-granting departments and AAR student members, as well as through data from the AAR’s online Job Postings and its Job Center at the Annual Meeting. A distinguished panel will join Taves and the audience in discussing the current situation, projecting where the field may be headed, and positing some steps that might be taken for the immediate and longer-range future of the field. Are we dealing with a temporary blip or a permanent paradigm shift in the way academic positions in religious studies are conceived and positioned?

Scholarship and Activism

Monday, 9:00 AM–11:30 AM
Marriott Marquis–A701*

Sponsored by the Status of LGBTIQ Persons in the Profession Task Force.

How do scholars interested in religion connect scholarship and activism in the context of LGBTIQ communities? The panelists in this Special Topics Forum will address the ways in which they bring scholarship and activism together in their lives and careers.

Spiritual Practices, Religious Pluralism, and Theological Education

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

Sponsored by the Theological Education Steering Committee.

Contexts of theological education are increasingly pluralistic in terms of religious tradition and the diverse spiritual practices embraced by students and faculty. At the same time, “formation” as a dimension of theological education remains an issue of deep significance. How should we attend to the rich pluralism of spiritual practice within contexts of theological education? What are the implications for how we understand formation as a dimension of theological education? How might practical theology — and its analogues in diverse religious traditions — provide resources for critical reflection upon spiritual practice, formation, and theological education? This session explores such questions through a dialogue with Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian scholars.

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


This website contains archived issues of Religious Studies News published online from March 2010 to May 2013, and PDF versions of print editions published from Winter 2001 to October 2009.

This site also contains archived issues of Spotlight on Teaching (May 1999 to May 2013) and Spotlight on Theological Education (March 2007 to March 2013).

For current issues of RSN, beginning with the October 2013 issue, please see here.