PAPERS Resources

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

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Critical Approaches to Hip-Hop and Religion Group

Statement of Purpose: 

This Group’s purpose is to provide a space for interdisciplinary, sustained, scholarly reflection and intellectual advancements at the intersections of religion and hip-hop culture. We believe the Group will assist religious and theological studies to take more seriously hip-hop culture — while expanding the conversation of hip-hop culture beyond a thin analysis of rap music. To these ends, this Group is marked by an effort to offer critical reflection on the multiplicity of the cultural practices of hip-hop culture. We also see something of value in advancing the field of religious studies through attention to how hip-hop might inform these various disciplines and methods. Understood in this way, scholarly attention to hip-hop will not transform it into a passive object of the scholar’s gaze — rather, through our attention to hip-hop, it also speaks back to the work of the AAR, offering tools by which to advance theory and method in the field.

Call for Papers: 

B(l)ack to the Future: Atlanta, Afrofuturism, and Making Worlds with Words

This Call for Papers encourages submissions that focus on the afrofuturistic sensibilities of Atlanta-based black cultural production and expressive cultures such as hip hop. Historically, Atlanta built its reputation on the future, on the promise that it was part of the “New South,” its vision no longer clouded by antiquated plantation-based and identity-based economies of difference. In similar respects, the cultural milieus we’ve come to call “hip-hop” and “afrofuturism” make use of time and space to carve out and reimagine new social, cultural and political possibilities in the shadow of history and structural realities. For example, Outkast gave us ATLiens, Janelle Monae created Cindi Mayweather, and one of Atlanta’s most popular rappers goes by the simple but poignant stage name, Future. Whether in recording studios or on the written page, hip hop culture and afrofuturism both make worlds with words, creating contemporary sacred texts reliant on the past and the future concurrently for the navigation of social realities. Possible paper topics might include examination of specific artists or cultural styles, artistic production and the impact of identity formation and social possibilities, contemporary cultural eschatologies and teleologies, the role of methods/genres such as fantasy, sci-fi, and more.

We also seek submissions for a number of possible co-sponsored sessions:

We request paper submissions for a possible co-sponsored session with the Sociology of Religion Group for a panel on the theme “No Method to the Madness?: Sociological Approaches to the Study of Black Expressive Cultures.” Topics should explore theory and method in the academic study of religion, and in particular, sociological approaches to religion, with attention to race and class in urban contexts in the domains of hip hop and black expressive cultures. We encourage proposals that consider/make use of varying cultural practices/data, cartographies, and formats. The interpretation of cultural products and the analyses that come to bear on them have a tendency to rely on “meaning” (and religion) as/in self-evident ways. As such, this session proposes to wrestle with the challenges faced, overcome and unearthed during the scholarly handling of such materials through sociological/social scientific means.

We encourage paper submissions for a potential co-sponsorship with the Religion and Sexuality Group on the theme religion, gender, and sexuality (broadly conceived) in hip hop and black popular culture, with particular attention to Southern and Atlanta-based cultural production.

We encourage paper submissions for a potential co-sponsorship with the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Group that investigate connections between religion and hip hop video production/visual culture (including Graffiti art). Submissions might consider a range of topics and approaches including: afrofuturistic elements; transmediated themes and production; and cultural styles, epistemologies, eschatologies, and teleologies within a Southern “Dirty South” context.

We encourage paper submissions for a potential co-sponsorship with the Music and Religion Group for a panel on the theme of "Rap Music and Religion in the American "South." Atlanta, part of the "Dirty South" has been called hip hop's center of gravity. We welcome submissions that engage regional and geographic impact and influence on the cultural production of rap music (with attention to religion) and its cross-cultural pollinations among musical modalities such as folk music, country music on rap music or vice-versa. Examples might include the country stylings of groups such as Nappy Roots and Arrested Development or the more recent trend and growth in popularity of white rap music celebrating Southern culture in particular.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee