PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Atlanta, GA
November 21-24, 2015

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Session Index (PDF)

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Exhibitor Index and Exhibit Hall Maps (PDF)

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Animals and Religion Group

Statement of Purpose: 

The purpose of this Group is to advance scholarship by providing a forum for scholars whose work addresses relevant issues in the study of animals and religion, and to engage religious studies scholars with the emergent field of animal studies. The Group emphasizes the theoretical implications of attention to animals for the study of religion and a diversity of approaches, including, but not limited to:
-- Cultural and comparative history of religions
-- Critical theory
-- Ethnography and anthropology of religion
-- Descriptions of the role(s) religious/theological traditions have played in mediating images of nonhuman animals
-- Assessments of relationships between religious constructions of animals and those animals

Call for Papers: 

This Group addresses issues in the study of animals and religion and seeks to engage religion scholars with the emergent field of animal studies. We welcome theoretically informed paper and panel proposals on all topics related to these themes. We especially seek proposals on the following topics in 2015:

1) The Value of Animals in Religious Studies and in the Academy: papers that address the value of religious studies for animal welfare (pursuant to the AAR 2015 Annual Meeting theme of Valuing the Study of Religion)

2) Animals in Islam (for a possible co-sponsored session with Study of Islam Section)

3) Postcolonial Studies and Animals (for a possible co-sponsored session with Religion, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism Group; the Religion and Ecology Group)

4) Esotericism and Animals (for a possible co-sponsored session with Western Esotericism Group). Animals have always been a very significant presence in western esoteric discourses and practices, yet, strangely enough, they have not received much attention by scholars so far. We will have a preference for proposals dealing with the actual presence of animals in rituals and practices (as companions or as tools). However, discussions of the symbolical or allegorical presence of animals in texts and discourses will also be considered.

5) Animals and Gender

6) Animals in War

7) The Religious/Ethical Significance of Animal Fables

8) Panel responding to Aaron Gross’s new book, The Question of the Animal and Religion

9) Panel responding to Frans de Waal’s new book, The Bonobo and the Atheist

10) Connecting to new places using animals (for a possible quad-sponsored session)

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Papers are first reviewed anonymously by the entire steering committee, including co-chairs. The co-chairs then look at the names of submitters to consider factors such as the number of times the scholar has presented in our group and to support diversity. Papers are generally accepted solely on the basis of merit, fit, and the frequency with which an individual has presented (we give preference to scholars who have not presented in the group in the last five years). We strive for balance in gender representation when looking at sessions collectively but not necessarily at the level of an individual session. We especially encourage submissions from traditionally underrepresented minorities.
ChairSteering Committee