PAPERS Resources

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

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Religions, Medicines, and Healing Group

Statement of Purpose: 

The study of religions, medicines, and healing is a growing field within religious studies that draws on the disciplines and scholarship of history, anthropology (particularly medical anthropology), phenomenology, psychology, sociology, ethnic studies, ritual studies, gender studies, theology, political and economic theory, public health, bioscientific epidemiology, history of science, comparative religion, and other interdisciplinary approaches to interpret meanings assigned to illness, affliction, and suffering; healing, health, and well-being; healing systems and traditions, their interactions, and the factors that influence them; and related topics and issues. As a broad area of inquiry, this field incorporates diverse theoretical orientations and methodological strategies in order to develop theories and methods specific to the study of illness, health, healing, and associated social relations from religious studies perspectives. Although religious texts serve as important resources in this endeavor, so do the many approaches to the study of lived religion, religious embodiment and material culture, and popular expressions of religiosity. Finally, like its sister field of medical anthropology, the field of religions, medicines, and healing encourages examination of how affliction and healing affect social bodies through fractured identities, political divides, structural violence, and colonialism. We support the work of graduate students, religion scholars, scholar-activists, and scholars in allied fields. We promote collaboration with other interdisciplinary Program Units and those focused on particular traditions and/or regions.

Call for Papers: 

This Group welcomes proposals that explore specific intersections of religious and healing traditions and practices. We ask that proposals address the socio-political context of the topic, as well as theoretical and analytical framework(s). Our group is also experimenting with posting full papers online before the meeting, with brief presentations, responses and open discussions at one or more of our sessions.
The group is particularly interested in reviewing proposals on the following themes for the upcoming year:

1) Synergy, hybridity, and creativity in healing: How do theories of synergy, hybridity, and creativity help to explain the ways in which religious people and groups conflate elements from within a particular religious tradition, or from different traditions, based on their own deeper concerns, commitments, sense of self or selves, and the suffering that they have experienced?

2) Gendered dimensions of religious healing, responding theoretically and empirically to women's participation in religious healing practices; discourses of women, gender, health, and healing; and/or exploring the “gendered divisions of labor” in religious healing (possible session with Women and Religion Section).

3) The spiritualization of the secular and the secularization of the spiritual in the context of health, healing, and medicine. For instance, how are certain "spiritual" practices being integrated into "secular" medical settings, and how has secular medical research influenced spiritual and religious practice? (possible co-sponsored session with Secularism and Secularity Group).

4) For a possible quad-sponsored session with the African Diaspora Religions Group; Native Traditions in the Americas Group; the Indigenous Religious Traditions Group: we invite paper or session proposals that focus on how conceptions of indigeneity and diasporic identity are implicated in efforts to heal individuals, communities, and nations in the context of loss, displacement, and historical trauma.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members until after final acceptance/rejection
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee