PAPERS Resources

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

AAR Sessions (PDF)

Additional Meeting Sessions (PDF)

Session Index (PDF)

Participant Index (PDF)

Session Locations (PDF)

Exhibitor Index and Exhibit Hall Maps (PDF)

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Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Group

Statement of Purpose: 

Since the end of the Cold War, acts of religiously motivated violence have become prominent worldwide. Scholars from various disciplines have attempted to account for these incidents, noting a resurgence of anti-colonialism, poverty and economic injustice, the failures of secular nationalism, uprootedness and the loss of a homeland, and the pervasive features of globalization in its economic, political, social, and cultural forms. Yet the religious narratives that motivate these violent actors are too conspicuous to be ignored. Today, critics no longer debate whether people’s use of religion has a role in violence; rather, the discussion has turned to what kind of role it plays, and how this role affects the nature and scale of the conflict. This Group contends that the theories, methodologies, and scales for studying the expanding field of religion and violence remain under-explored and require interdisciplinary work and collaboration to provide greater insights into the thorny issues involved. The sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, economics, and political science of religion all have provided great insights into the nature of religion and violence over the last few decades and all are arguably interdisciplinary by nature. This Group provides a venue devoted specifically to interdisciplinary discussions of the subject. We hope to channel and enhance contributions from the historically delineated (albeit constructed) humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. In that vein, we hope to hear papers presenting cross-disciplinary dialogue and research on the topic of religion and violence.

Call for Papers: 

We are proud to announce that the Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Group has joined with the Journal of Religion and Violence. Future submissions to the AAR program unit will be considered for publication in the journal.

For the 2015 national conference in Atlanta, we seek papers that examine the intersections of religion and violence, with attention to the conditions in which religion lends itself to the justification and/or promotion of violence. Papers should demonstrate comparative or theoretical approaches. Below are recommended themes within this framework:

Religion, Law and Violence: a look into the role of international law, humanitarian law, and regulations of interventions such as in the Middle East. If you are interested in submitting to this theme, please contact Nathan French ( and Gregory Reichberg (

Ethnographies of Religion and Violence: contemporary ethnographic analyses that track intersections between religious actors and violence, such as the role of religion in prisons, religious leaders in warfare, religiously motivated soldiers, or religious nationalists that foment violence. For possible organized panel inquiries, please contact Ryan Williams (

Comparative Ethics of Violence beyond Texts: We seek studies that trace the way that religious authority becomes enacted outside of traditional scriptural mandates, such as by cultural leaders, rituals and media. For possible organized panel inquiries, please contact Torkel Brekke (

Martyrdom: We invite examinations into martyrdom as a performative, disputed, and celebrated category.

In addition to these themes, we are soliciting papers for five co-sponsored sessions:

  1. Children, Violence, and Religion: This open session invites submissions that investigate violence by or toward children in "religious" contexts. Papers may address any form of verbal, psychological, or physical violence, real or imagined. In addition, such violence may represent a normative requirement for a given religious community, as in the case of child soldiers, child suicide missions, child sacrifice, or it may represent a despicable crime imputed to the religious Other, as in accusations of ritual murder of children by Christians in antiquity or Jews in medieval Europe. Papers may address evidence from any historical setting, from ancient to contemporary. This panel is co-sponsored by the SBL unit “Violence and Representations of Violence among Jews and Christians.”

  2. Religion, Ecology, and Violence: we seek papers that examine cases such as eco-terrorism, environmental conflicts around extractive economies in Africa and Latin America, and the relationship between Islamism and petroleum economies. This panel is co-sponsored with the Religion and Ecology program unit.

  3. Genocide in the Balkans: we welcome papers that look at acts of genocide in the Balkans. This panel is co-sponsored with the Religion, Holocaust, and Genocide program unit.

  4. Cognitive Science of Religion and Violence: analyses of religion and violence through cognitive science methods and approaches. Violence offers an opportunity to explore the applied dimensions of CSR research for possible co-sponsorship with the Cognitive Science of Religion Group.

In addition to these suggested themes and collaborations, we welcome other submissions that fall within our program unit’s mandate.

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