AASR at the 2016 AAR/SBL Conference

Each year the AASR sponsors multiple panels at the joint American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conference. This year the conference will be in San Antonio, TX, USA, from 19-22 November 2016. See below for information regarding AASR sponsored panels, as well as information on panels sponsored by the African Religions Group that will also be of interest to AASR members. In addition to the panels, we are also planning a dinner for Saturday, 19 November, at 19:00. The location is to be determined, but we will meet immediately following the AASR panel (‘Eschatology and African Religions’), which ends at 18:30.

Eschatology and African Religions
Esther Acolatse, Duke University, Presiding
Saturday – 4:00 PM-6:30 PM
Grand Hyatt-Lone Star F (2nd Level)

Throughout the world, prophets of doom have been characterized and caricatured by their signs proclaiming, “The end is nigh!” They are espousing an eschatological vision—they have a sense that the end of the world as we know it could be just around the corner. Yet many scholars have noted that eschatology is largely absent from African traditional religion. African religions tend to focus on the “here and now,” safeguarding the stability of community life. Even in the case of ancestor veneration, African religionists are not looking backward as much as securing right relations between the living and the dead to ensure the fertility and security of the community. Nevertheless, in the past century, most of Africa has come in contact with Islam or Christianity—both of which are religions with strong eschatological visions. Papers on this panel offer analyses of ways African traditional religions are responding to eschatological concerns; and how the Christian and Muslim eschatological notions are incorporated to cast new eschatological visions to meet uniquely African interests.

Loreen Maseno, Maseno University, and Kupakwashe Mtata, University of Bayreuth
Eschatological Prophecies: Female Pentecostal-Charismatic Preachers Self-Legitimation in Africa

Chammah J Kaunda, University of South Africa
The Bemba Eschatology and Socio-Relational Evolution: Implications for Bemba Christians in Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Zambia

Tim Carey, Boston College
“That All May Have Life, and Have It Abundantly”: Inter-Religious Perspectives of HIV and AIDS in Eastern Africa within Catholicism and Sunni Islam

Responding: Elochukwu Eugene Uzukwu, Duquesne University

We will meet for the AASR dinner immediately following the session.

Debility and Personhood in African Religions
Lovemore Togarasei, University of Botswana, Presiding
Sunday – 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Grand Hyatt-Bonham B (3rd Level)

Across the continent of Africa, many associate the condition of debility and/or physical “abnormality” with spiritual and moral concerns. Such conditions might result from a religious transgression, as in the case of neglected ancestors, or they might result from spiritual “foul play” in the case of witchcraft. Some consider physical difference to be a source of power, which has both positive and negative implications. This panel explores the intersections of personhood, debility/physical abnormality, and religion from various perspectives and from several regions in Africa examining how African religions define and diagnose debility and physical abnormality, and how they account for the personhood of disabled people, while paying attention to analysis of both the positive and negative social implications of debility and physical abnormality.

Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, Lagos State University
Omoluabi: A Critical Analysis of Yoruba Concept of Person

Abimbola Adelakun, University of Texas
Prosperity Gospel and the Exorcism of Debility

Responding: Nathanael Homewood, Rice University

Business Meeting: Elias Kifon Bongmba, Rice University, and Corey Williams, Leiden University

Co-sponsored session with the African Religions Group: The Good Life and Social Justice in Africa: Ethical and Religious Responses to Exclusion
Monday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Grand Hyatt-Bonham B (3rd Level)

The papers in this session explore various approaches to the Good, as well as tensions among them, that currently prevail on the African continent. Against the New Atheists’ assumption that religion is the root of all evil, the papers pursue ways in which African ethical and religious systems educate pupils, empower persons, enfranchise citizens, enhance health, expand rights, or fulfill other goals even as they question simplistic understandings of what is best in life. The papers engage these questions in a variety of contexts – from indigenous communities in Cameroon to a Kenyan refugee camp – and from a variety of methodological perspectives. This co-sponsored session is a response to the theme of the AAR 2016 meetings, Revolutionary Love, and to the AAR’s call for plenary sessions over the next three years on the theme of religion and hatred.

The session will be followed by the business meeting of the African Religions Group.

Ann K Riggs, Loyola University, Chicago
The Good Life in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

David Ngong, Stillman College
Ground Cargo and the Good Life: A Cameroonian Conception of Material Things

Ladislas Nsengiyumva, Boston College
African Theology of Disease: Understanding the Theological Meaning of Life from Abundant Life to Physical and Mental Afflictions

Business Meeting: Adriaan van Klinken, University of Leeds


In addition to the AASR sponsored panels, there are also a number of panels sponsored by the African Religions Group that will certainly be of interest:

African Religions Group and Anthropology of Religion Group: Researching Religion in Africa: Methodological Contributions and Challenges to Religious Studies
Adriaan van Klinken, University of Leeds, Presiding
Saturday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Grand Hyatt-Bowie C (2nd Level)

Researching Religion in Africa: Ethnographic, Linguistic, Theological, and Philosophical Approaches and Reflections
Devaka Premawardhana, Colorado College, Presiding
Sunday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Grand Hyatt-Bowie B (2nd Level)

African Religions Group and Indigenous Religious Traditions Group: Roundtable on Robert Baum’s West Africa’s Women of God: Alinesitoué and the Diola Prophetic Tradition (Indiana University Press, 2015)
Dianna Bell, Vanderbilt University, Presiding
Monday – 1:00 PM-3:30 PM
Convention Center-212B (2nd Level – West)

African Religions Group and Lesbian-Feminisms and Religion Group: African Responses to Violence in the Realms of Gender and Sexuality: Action, Ethics, Popular Art, and Religion
Tuesday – 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Grand Hyatt-Bonham B (3rd Level)

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