|20 January 2021|
Dear AASR Members,
Warm greetings and a Happy New Year to each of you!
As the Treasurer, with a new Executive committee and a new year, I wanted to take the opportunity to draw your attention to Membership Fees and Finances for the year ahead, with the reminder that it is time to renew your membership for 2021. In the midst of a challenging and uncertain period globally, we have decided to take an unusual step: just for this year, we would like to offer you the opportunity to “pay what you are able” for your memberships rather than charging set fees. We recognise that some may have lost or had their employment/salaries reduced, while for others, job opportunities may be diminished. However, we believe that now more than ever, it is important for us as an Association to come together as scholars and colleagues, and we do not want finances to be an impediment to anyone’s participation. And for those of you who have not yet joined us, this is a great opportunity to do so at whatever cost is affordable to you!
As a guideline for your donation, our fee structure is:
Scholars from the Global North:
Fully employed: $60 USD
Students/Retirees/Underemployed: $30 USD
Scholars from the Global South:
Fully employed: $50 USD
Students/Retirees/Underemployed: $25 USD
However, in the spirit of “paying what you can,” we equally want to invite those who are able, to consider paying more than these suggested fees. For those who wish to support the AASR as patrons, we invite donations starting at $100 USD.
It is important to clarify that we are not taking this step from the position of over-abundance; indeed, our finances are a point of urgent concern and an area where we are focused on building capacity over the next five years. One significant cost we are currently facing is investing in a much-needed upgraded website and technical infrastructure, at the cost of approximately $1500, with some additional annual fees. This will enable us to expand and streamline our global reach while making it easier for members to join/renew and register for events. Additionally, with the need for greater online accessibility, we are pleased that these upgrades will soon enable us to offer more members-only benefits such as topical webinars, access to publications, “zoom coffee with the President,” and more! Please continue to check our website (https://www.a-asr.org/) or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@AASReligions) for updates on these developments.
In closing, may I say that we are grateful to each one of you, our members, for your support and partnership. We can’t do it without you, and we look forward to working together with you in the months and years ahead to achieve greater financial stability for our Association.
Sara Fretheim, Treasurer
On September 7th , 2020, the AASR installed its new executive, most notably including the Association’s first female President. The installation, held over zoom, connected members throughout the globe and included many heartfelt expressions of the meaningful work the Association has done in the past, and steadfast commitments to its work in the future.
Most movingly, Njoki Wane constructed relevant rituals to mark the occasion, including libations, laying on of particular fabrics for each incoming member, and kind words of encouragement. Wane installed Damaris Parsitau as President, Abel Ugba as Vice-President, Nathanael Homewood as General Secretary, and Sara Fretheim as Treasurer. In her new role, Damaris shared an inspiring vision of the Association’s future.
Amidst the excitement, it was also a moment to thank two stalwart members of the Association, without whom the Association would be much the lesser. Long-serving President Elias Bongmba (Handing over Remarks [PDF]) has been indefatigable in his efforts to ensure the Association’s vibrancy. Meanwhile, Corey Williams has filled the role of General Secretary with notable organization and grace. While their leadership will be sorely missed, both pledged to remain active in the Association, a promise that many will undoubtedly hold them to.
As the new executive begins its term, it is also an excellent time for members to recommit and reengage with the Association and its varied goals. The Association is only as strong as its diverse and impressive membership, and there are plenty of opportunities for members to
contribute to, dream with, and strengthen the Association. If you are interested in contributing or becoming a member, please reach out to any of the members of the executive.
We are pleased to share that Dr. Elisa Prosperetti chose AASR member Laura Grillo’s book, An Intimate Rebuke: Female Genital Power in Ritual and Politics in West Africa (Duke UP 2018), to feature in the Podcast New Books Network. A historian specializing in modern Africa with particular knowledge of Côte d’Ivoire, Elisa was a keen and informed interviewer. It will be sure to draw attention to the book’s timely theme: The postmenopausal ‘Mothers’ deploy their spiritual power to decry immoral leadership and demand justice, without which there can be no peace!
To listen to the interview, please go to:
Featured New AASR Executives
Dear AASR members,
We are writing you as co-chairs of the Nomination Committee for the new Executive of our Association.
Earlier this year, in March, we have written to you with our proposal of nominated candidates for the new Executive, following a process of consultation of the membership. This proposal was as follows:
• Office of President: Dr Damaris Parsitau (Egerton University, Kenya)
• Office of Vice President: Dr Abel Ugba (University of Leeds, UK)
• Office of General Secretary: Dr Nathanael Homewood (De Pauw University, USA)
• Office of Treasurer: Dr Sara Fretheim (University of Münster, Germany)
This proposal was sent in an email to the membership and was published on the AASR website. It was also supposed to be published in the AASR Bulletin, but as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, publication of the Bulletin has been delayed. Our apologies for that, but we trust you appreciate the circumstances.
In our earlier communication we invited counter-nominations to be submitted by 22 July 2020. This date has now passed, and we have not received any submissions.
In the absence of counter-candidates, our above nomination was supposed to be affirmed at the IAHR quinquennial World Congress in New Zealand in August 2020. However, the IAHR Congress has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.
For the sake of the smooth, continued functioning of our Association, the election must proceed. This is also the position taken by the IAHR for their own elections.
As Nominations Committee we had already proposed that in the absence of counter-candidates, an (online) vote would not be necessary. This is in line with the IAHR Constitution and the IAHR Rules of Procedure, which the AASR Constitution is based upon, which in Rule 16g states: ‘Those whose candidacy is unopposed shall be declared “elected unopposed”.’ Following these considerations, and in consultation with the current Executive of our Association, we are pleased to declare our nominated candidates for the new Executive to be ‘elected unopposed’. The official handover of duties will be on 23 August 2020, which is when the IAHR Congress was originally set to begin.
We trust that you will join us in warmly congratulating Dr Parsitau, Dr Ugba, Dr Homewood and Dr Fretheim on their election, and will offer your support to the new Executive as they lead our Association in the coming five years.
We further trust that you will join us in expressing our sincere thanks to the members of the outgoing Executive, in particular the departing members, Professor Elias Bongmba and Dr Corey Williams. Together with the members who continue to serve on the new Executive – Dr Parsitau and Dr Ugba – they have provided visionary leadership to our Association, and we owe them our gratitude and respect.
Herewith we have completed the task entrusted to us as Nomination Committee. We thank you for your confidence in us.
Professor Njoki Wane
Professor Adriaan van Klinken
Also on behalf of our committee members:
Dr Rose Mary Amenga-Etego
Dr Chammah Kaunda
Professor Danoye Oguntola-Laguda
Source: AAR Website
The American Academy of Religion (AAR) has announced Elias Kifon Bongmba (AASR former President) as the recipient of the 2020 Ray L. Hart Service Award.
“Elias Bongmba is Harry and Hazel Chavanne Professor of Christian Theology and Chair of the Department of Religion at Rice University. A scholar of comparative philosophy, African religions, and Christian theology, he has published influential books and articles on African witchcraft, the African Church’s response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, comparative hermeneutics, and African theology, ethics, and literature. In 2007 he was awarded the Frantz Fanon Prize for Outstanding Work in Caribbean Thought.
Professor Bongmba has served on a variety of AAR steering committees, committees of the board, and juries. His record of service extends far beyond the walls of the academy. He has advised governmental, educational, and church bodies both in his native Cameroon and throughout Africa. Bongmba has also lectured throughout Africa on social justice issues, including poverty, gender, disability, and homosexuality. He has been editor-in-chief of the Journal of Religions in Africa, and has served for the past ten years [2010-2020] as president of the African Association for the Study of Religion.
Congratulations to Elias Bongmba on receiving this important award!”