Critical Approaches to Hip-Hop and Religion Print

Call for Proposals

Continuing in its exploration of critical trends and approaches to the study of religion and hip-hop culture, this Group welcomes paper and panel proposals in the following areas:

  • For a possible cosponsored session with the Religion and Cities Group, we are seeking papers that address the practice and performance of hip-hop in urban centers and the remaking of religion with attention to how social geography of city spaces — faith institutions, club culture, tattoo shops, etc. — are reshaped and remade into cultural milieus of religious activity, becoming not only "context" for reshaping traditionally-defined religion but also religious "product." How are critiques of institutional forms of religious expression (e.g. Christianity) offered by hip-hop and from where do such critiques emerge?
  • Faith and the flesh — religion, hip-hop, and the body. From the existential wrestlings with a noose seen in Odd Future’s “Yonkers” video to Janelle Monae’s onstage tuxedo and pompadour uniform, and all the way back to the earliest breaking that took place on flattened cardboard in the Bronx, hip-hop is a horizon where bodies matter. At times, bodies are problems to be discarded through destructive violence, while at different moments, othered/othering bodies produce forms of creative response and resistance to the pressures exerted on them. What does it mean about religion, hip-hop, and its scholarship to say that bodies matter? What might wrestling with bodies — at experiential and analytic levels — signal about repetitive, ritualistic modes of performativity that construct historical, embodied, religious "subjects"? In what ways might hip-hop socially personify the corporeal tension experienced by adherents of faith communities in light of their limited, creative bodies? How might the bodily stylistic choices offered in hip-hop reflect or be transformed by complementary and competing faith claims in urban centers?


This Group’s purpose is to provide a space for interdisciplinary, sustained, scholarly reflection and intellectual advancements at the intersections of religion and hip-hop culture. We believe the Group will assist religious and theological studies to take more seriously hip-hop culture — while expanding the conversation of hip-hop culture beyond a thin analysis of rap music. To these ends, this Group is marked by an effort to offer critical reflection on the multiplicity of the cultural practices of hip-hop culture. We also see something of value in advancing the field of religious studies through attention to how hip-hop might inform these various disciplines and methods. Understood in this way, scholarly attention to hip-hop will not transform it into a passive object of the scholar’s gaze — rather, through our attention to hip-hop, it also speaks back to the work of the AAR, offering tools by which to advance theory and method in the field.

Anonymity of Review Process

Proposer names are visible to Chairs but anonymous to steering committee members.


Christopher Driscoll
Rice University
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Monica R. Miller
Lewis and Clark College
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Method of Submission

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