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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Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Group

Statement of Purpose: 

The Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Group engages interdisciplinary study on moral injury, an emerging concept which attempts to engage the impact of making difficult moral choices under extreme conditions, experiencing morally anguishing events or duties, witnessing immoral acts, or behaving in ways that profoundly challenge moral conscience and identity and the values that support them.

In examining how understandings of recovery from moral injury might illuminate post-conflict situations in many areas of the world, this unit will interrogate how educating a wider public about moral injury might challenge the role of religion in supporting war and the militarization of international and intra-national conflicts, the effects of war on combatants in post-conflict societies, and more effective means for social support in recovery from moral injury.
Contributions are welcome engaging:
• diverse religious, cultural, and social systems and their sacred texts;
• neuroscientific approaches to ritual, moral formation, and the moral emotions;
• proposed methods for recovery, such as ritual, pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, arts, community life, narrative, and interreligious cooperation; and
• the roles of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class, race, and other forms of oppression in relation to personal agency and theories of ethics.

Call for Papers: 

Moral injury is a wound of moral subjectivity within a social context. It combines loss of faith in one’s own moral goodness and the goodness of the surrounding society and occurs either through the experience of particular acts or through a longer-term experience of social suffering and moral distrust. It is linked to the loss of a meaningful world so that “An individual with moral injury may begin to view him or herself as immoral, irredeemable, and un-reparable or believe that he or she lives in an immoral world.” (Litz, et. al., Dec. 2009 Cl Psych Rev) First identified in 1993 by VA psychiatrist Jonathan Shay as involving the violation of what is right by someone in authority, moral injury is currently defined as involving “an act of transgression that creates dissonance and conflict because it violates assumptions and beliefs about right and wrong and personal goodness.” (Litz) It includes a range of relevant agency, from actual perpetration to witnessing violations and can include shame for violating core moral values, survivor guilt, remorse at causing harm, alienation from religious communities and beliefs, being haunted by mistreating human remains, and grief at losses, including the loss of a sense of being a good person.

For the 2015 AAR Annual Meeting, we invite papers or complete panels on 1) moral injury and other forms of trauma, such as injury to conscience and feelings of shame after moral transgressions, and psychological harm caused by social injustice or domestic violence (with particular interest in diverse religious scriptural and cultural understandings of moral injury outside the Christian tradition) for a co-sponsored session with the Buddhist Critical-Constructive Reflection Group and the Warfare in Ancient Israel Group (SBL); 2) moral formation and moral injury in relation to teleological, deontological, and virtue ethics; 3) psychological and religious perspectives on moral injury, for a possible co-sponsored session with the Psychology, Culture and Religion Group; 4) conversations about moral injury among service providers in the active duty military, the VA, chaplains, and medical care givers; 5) moral injury in relation to issues of women and gender, for a possible co-sponsored session with the Women and Religion Section; 6) how the study of moral injury interrogates the role of religion in civic society.

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
In the selection process, the most frequent problem was confusion of moral injury with trauma studies. Some high quality papers did not understand moral injury and assumed it was a synonym for PTSD or trauma in victims of oppression. Hence, they were rejected. We plan to include a definition for moral injury in the description of the group and the call. As familiarity with the meanings of moral injury increase, we expect this problem will diminish.
ChairSteering Committee