CALL FOR PAPERS – Africa-Related Papers, Panels and Roundtables American Academy of Religion

American Academy of Religion Annual Meetings, Nov. 22-25, 2014, San Diego

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is the largest professional organization for scholars of religious studies, history, the social sciences, literature, and other disciplines who study religion.

The AAR will meet in San Diego from Saturday, Nov. 22 to Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. The AAR’s African Religions Group seeks papers for panels or roundtables on (1) religious dimensions of violence in Rwanda and the DRC, (2) religious dimensions of international development and climate change, (3) LGBTIQ women in Africa, (4) mental health and religion in Africa, (5) African religions and agriculture, and (6) aspects of law, ethics, and religion in relation to homophobia on the continent. The full CFP (see http://papers.aarweb.org/content/african-religions-group) follows below; please distribute widely.

The deadline for proposals is 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday, March 3. Directions for submitting proposals may be found at http://papers.aarweb.org/content/general-call-instructions. Please contact Joseph Hellweg (jhellweg@fsu.edu) and/or Mary Nyangweso (wangilam@ecu.edu) with any questions you might have.

We invite individual papers, paper sessions, and roundtable proposals on the following six themes from scholars in all academic disciplines relevant to these topics:

1. Religious dimensions of violence, displacement, and politics in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo 20 years after the Rwandan genocide: Two decades after the Rwandan Genocide, President Kagame still leads Rwanda. Rwanda’s gacacha courts that judged genocide perpetrators only closed recently in 2012. And violence continues just beyond Rwanda’s border in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. We seek contributions that explore the gendered, political, ritual, transnational and other dimensions of the current situation in relation to religion and ethics, broadly construed, in either or both countries.

2. Religious responses to and reflections on the ecological and environmental impact of international development and climate change: As apocalyptic scenarios for climate change and its impacts on the Global South gain attention, religious authorities and ethicists are interpreting changing climate patterns in moral terms or taking ritual action to address them, giving scholars of religion opportunities to assess the religious and ethical aspects of the current situation. We seek contributions that focus on such issues on the African continent in autochthonous, Christian, Muslim, or other religious or ethical contexts.

3. LGBTIQ women in Africa: Although the lives of LBGTIQ persons are receiving increasing international attention by scholars and the media, the focus is more often on men than on women. We seek insights into how women in specific communities on the African continent fashion their gendered and sexual lives in light of various religious and ethical dynamics and contexts—in cities and villages, in Christian and Muslim communities, and in light of autochthonous religious logics and practices, etc. We also welcome contributions that evaluate Western notions of LBGTIQ identity and queer theory in light of local categories of gender and sexuality—including critiques of the concepts of gender and sexuality themselves and of other theoretical frameworks—as they affect these women’s lives.

4. Mental health and religion in Africa: As state resources for the treatment of mental illness continue to dwindle across Africa, ritual and religious sources of treatment come into greater public view, having long coexisted with biomedicine. We invite contributions that explore the coexistence of these healing systems; the treatment of mental illness by religious (including missionary) institutions; religious or ritually grounded etiologies of mental illness (including etiologies prevalent in Islam); ethical dimensions of mental health and illness on the continent; and the impacts of shamanism, spirit possession, divination, or other ritual practices on mental health. Related topics are also welcome.

5. African religions and agriculture: Agricultural work in Africa has long involved ritual action to assure the intervention of ancestors and spirits in providing rain and for the fertility of the land. We seek contributions that explore intersections among ritual, ethics, and farming—from ethnographies of agricultural rituals to studies of cooperatives organized by religious practitioners to assessments of state policies linked to the redistribution or commodification of land in ways that reveal socialist or capitalist cosmologies, to the ethics of land ownership and the use of genetically modified crops. We welcome related topics as well.

6. Homophobia, Law, and Religion in Africa: This session will critically examine the wave of legalized homophobia across the continent that has recently garnered attention in Uganda and Nigeria with respectively failed and successful attempts to outlaw homosexuality with the imprimatur of religious authorities. We seek papers that focus on specific national, regional, or continental aspects legalistic attempts to marginalize LGBTIQ persons in Africa. We also seek papers that engage relationships between religious and legal authorities or theology and law in these efforts. Above all we seek detailed presentations that explore precise dimensions of the wave of homophobia on the continent in relation to law and religious or ethical concerns at whatever scale the author chooses.