PAPERS Resources

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

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Practical Theology Group

Statement of Purpose: 

This Group engages practical theology and religious practice, reflects critically on religious traditions and practices, and explores issues in particular subdisciplines of practical theology and ministry. The Group engages this mission in five interrelated public spheres with the following goals:

For practical theology — to provide a national and international forum for discussion, communication, publication, and development of the field and its related subdisciplines

For theological and religious studies — to foster interdisciplinary critical discourse about religious practice, contextual research and teaching for ministry, and practical theological method and pedagogy

For a variety of religious traditions — to enhance inquiry in religious practice and practical theology

For academic pedagogy — to advance excellence in teaching and vocational development for faculty in divinity and seminary education generally and for graduate students preparing to teach in such settings specifically

For the general public — to promote constructive reflection on social and cultural dynamics and explore the implications of religious confession and practice.

Call for Papers: 

The Practical Theology Group encourages paper proposals in all areas of practical theological research. This year we especially welcome papers on the following topics:

Intersectionality: How can practical theology illuminate and take into account the intersections and power dynamics between forms or systems of oppression, domination, and discrimination? In what way can practical theology help trace and support the origins of theories of intersectionality theory in the scholarship and resistance of African American women? How are religion and theology exacerbating and/or ameliorating the tensions of intersectionality? We especially welcome papers that demonstrate how such power dynamics are played out in practice/empirically in theological education, congregations/churches, and other organizations.

Mass incarceration: Practical theology cultivates resistance to the dehumanizing process of incarceration. Through its engagement of the prison industrial complex, practical theology offers critiques of systemic issues that lead to mass incarceration and creates avenues to enfranchise the lives of incarcerated persons. How can practical theological scholarship explicate the complex problems of U.S. mass incarceration? In what ways can practical theological methods and values be seen implicitly or explicitly in the work of those already addressing the prison industrial complex? How does practical theology address and challenge the practice of mental health care in prisons? How might practical theology promote the transformation of entire systems, human resilience, and resistance? In what ways are theological education, research, and curricula addressing the enfranchisement of incarcerated individuals in systems that deny them personhood?

Postcolonial methodology and analysis: How might practical theological scholarship reveal, counter, or offer alternatives to logics of empire? What values and limits of postcolonial theory can be identified for practical theological scholarship? Additionally, how are various postcolonial discourses informing current practical theological research and the theory and practices of the sub-disciplines?

Transformations in theological education: The Group will also participate with the History of Christianity Section; the Latina/o Religion, Culture, and Society Group; the Transformative Scholarship and Pedagogies Group in a quad-sponsored panel that takes its starting point from the just-published third volume on theological education in North America by historian Glenn Miller.This quad-sponsored panel takes its starting point from the just-published third volume on theological education in North America by historian Glenn Miller. The volume, Piety and Plurality (Cascade Press, 2014), covers the tumultuous period between 1960 and today. [The previous volumes, which Dr. Miller has been at work on since the 1970s, are Piety and Intellect (the Colonial era up to the Civil War) and Piety and Profession (1870-1970).] We welcome papers engaging ways to understand both the diversification of places of theological education as well as multiplication of theologies and pedagogies used which force rethinking the landscape of North American theological education in its broadest sense. We are especially interested in theological education at the popular level, including Bible Institutes, but also base communities, and independent networks and institutes. Of special interest are theological educational developments within Pentecostal and Latino/a traditions, and mega-church-based models. We also seek examples of theological education rooted in transformative pedagogies, experiential learning, or other alternative models for theological education.

Valuing the study of religion: As AAR President Tom Tweed describes his choice for the 2015 Presidential Theme, we welcome proposals for papers in practical theology that “consider how religion and the study of religion is valued—and devalued—in public spaces, including but not only in legislatures, schools, prisons, courtrooms, hospitals, airports, news media, the state department, the military, the arts, and popular culture. [Also,] “looking at our own practices, how [do] we enact epistemic, moral, and aesthetic values in our research, teaching, and public outreach?”

Complexities and challenges of “work/life balance": As suggested by the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession (SWP) of the AAR, proposals are invited for practical theological papers on issues such as: “the academic industrial complex, the two-body problem and relationships, being single as well as couple normativity, heteronormativity, the ways institutions package “ability,” managing expectations amid diverse cultural and institutional contexts, perfectionism, power in the academy, navigating unwanted advances, competition and solidarity between senior and junior scholars, making visible the unwritten and unspoken rules, negotiating our current economic climate and job strain, a clarity on what “balance” even means and how one separates “work” and life,” as well as critical reflections on paid and unpaid labor.” Visit https://www.aarweb.org/worklife-balance-project for more information about SWP’s work/life balance project.

Successful proposals will: demonstrate theoretical clarity and methodological transparency, including researcher self-reflexivity and show how theoretical claims are related to a particular practice and/or are based on field research. Presenters are urged to “teach” their papers and to use innovative, interactive formats and multimedia presentations as appropriate. We welcome prearranged paper sessions (generally preferable to prearranged roundtables). Please provide separate abstracts for each paper and formulate a panel that represents diversity of perspective (for example, race/ethnicity, gender, academic seniority and discipline).

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