PAPERS Resources

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

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International Development and Religion Group

Statement of Purpose: 

Since its establishment as an academic discipline in the 1960's the field of International Development Studies (IDS) has evolved from a fragmented topic, contained within the many silos of different academic departments, into an interdisciplinary field that draws on knowledge from across the social sciences and humanities. While this is true for many of the social sciences and humanities; religious and theological studies are two silos that until recently have found it a challenge to contribute to this growing conversation. The Religion and International Development Group was established at the AAR in 2009 as one avenue through which religious and theological studies could engage in this emerging constructive dialogue with development studies.

The primary objective of our group is to use the AAR’s interdisciplinary and international reach as a focal point to gather scholars from across the humanities and social sciences, including those outside the AAR, who are engaged in the study of the space and place of religion in the context of economic, political and soci-cultural development in the global south.

We wish to support theoretically robust and practically oriented research that interrogates the post/de/colonial, theological, religious and missionary assumptions and mentalities of the global confluence of international development and religion in the developing world, including, but not limited to the investigations of current faith-based NGO’s and their projects in the field, practioner-based research and reflection from the field and the encounter between private and public religion(s) in the developing world.

Call for Papers: 

The International Development and Religions Group invites proposals at the intersection of religious, theological, and international development studies. In keeping with the 2015 Presidential theme, the Public Place of Religion, we are particularly interested in proposals that explore the relative lack of attention paid to religion in the theory and praxis of International Development Studies (IDS).

In the introduction to his seminal text, Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, globalization and religion theorist Roland Robertson confesses that his academic career, which began in the 1960’s in what today would be known as IDS, was “colored by the fact that one of my earliest, serious intellectual choices revolved around the question of whether I should study sociology or international relations as an undergraduate. To some extent such phrases as ‘a cultural focus’ and ‘cultural sociology’ reflect a kind of compromise between an interest in globalization (much more narrowly, international relations) on the one hand, and religion on the other.”(2).

The compromise Robertson made in the nascent field of IDS illustrates the continuing challenge facing international development’s encounter with religion(s) in the Global South. From this perspective, we are interested in proposals that explore the exclusion of religious studies or theological perspectives in the establishment of IDS as a distinct, interdisciplinary discipline, and the possible compromises that are needed to include these perspectives. Our invited respondent, Dr. Roland Robertson, will respond with his own reflections on this compromise.

Suggested Topics:

  • Proposals that explore the religious and or theological assumptions and intellectual history of western ideas of ‘progress’ and ‘development,’ and how these ideas are encounter and either accommodated or resisted in the global south.
  • Proposals that explore the intellectual and practical compromises &/or costs associate with the inclusion &/or exclusion of religion(s) from international development scholarship and analysis.
  • Proposals that explore the compromises faith-based &/or secular NGO’s make in their home/donor and/or client/partner relations.
  • Suggested Topics for Co-sponsored Sessions.

  • Proposals that investigate the relationship between offices of religious freedom and faith-based NGO’s in the context of global religious pluralism.
  • Proposals exploring issues of the way the ‘private’ and the ‘public’ are constructed where religion meets international development and economic, political and socio-cultural systems.
  • Guidelines for Submission of Proposals

  • Proposals submitted through Papers, should include an abstract of 150 words, and a more detailed précis with a minimum word count of 750 to a maximum of 1000 words.
  • Proposals will be blindly evaluated by the steering committee and short-listed based on overall quality, scope and clarity of the proposal, including evidence of a clear thesis, logical structure of the proposed argument/analysis, and the relevance of the proposal to the theme and suggested topics in the CFP.
  • Individual paper proposals will be selected on the recommendation of the programming committee’s evaluation, with consideration given to developing coherent, diverse and intellectually stimulating panels.
  • Proposals for full, pre-arranged panels will be considered but they must cover the spirit of the suggested theme and/or topics in the CFP. Panel proposals should include an abstract for the online program book (maximum 150 words), and a more detailed précis (750-1000 wds) indicating the coherency of the proposed panel as it relates to the CFP. Each individual paper in the panel proposal must likewise include an abstract (150 wds) and précis (750-1000 wds).
  • The steering committee and co-chairs may adjust the composition of pre-arranged panels by adding and/or replacing papers and respondents to better reflect the purpose of the programming unit and the themes and topics of the CFP.
  • Proposals from the Global South

  • Proposals from the global south are particularly encouraged.
  • International scholars working or residing outside those countries designated as high income by the World Bank may take advantage of a discounted AAR membership rate of $15 per calendar year for membership, plus international postage.
  • Proposal from International presenters who are unable to travel due to political and/or fiscal constraints may be accommodated via video-conferencing technology (e.g., Skype). If this applies to you please indicate the need for a dedicated broadband connection for your presentation.
  • Method: 
    E-mail without Attachment (proposal appears in body of e-mail)
    E-mail with Attachment (proposal is in attachment, not in body of e-mail)
    Papers of sufficient quality will be considered for publication in an edited volume on the same theme for the Routledge Research in Religion and Development book series. (see [])
    Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
    ChairSteering Committee