CFP Columbia Religion and Politics Graduate Student Conference

CFP Columbia Religion and Politics Graduate Student Conference

Happy New Year to the AAR-SW!

Columbia University’s Department of Religion invites graduate students to submit proposals for their upcoming Graduate Student Conference entitled “Legitimacy-Mythology-Epistemology: Religion and the Concept of the Political. The conference will be held on April 7, 2018. Interested participants should submit 300 word proposals via email to by January 19, 2018. Below is the full CFP.

The graduate students of Columbia University’s Department of Religion invite paper proposals that
explore the relationship between the academic study of religion and political ideologies. Both religious
and political ideologies formulate and define basic moral principles lying at the base of power formations
that challenge incumbent models of legitimacy. When considering their epistemological foundations,
political and religious mythologies are not so easily differentiated. At the same time, religion and politics
are often viewed as distinct or even antagonistic. Accordingly, they are approached with different
expectations of what it means for them to be just or truthful.

Our understanding of religion and the political, itself a historically contingent product of the Western
academy, emerged in the nineteenth century during the height of imperialism. We invite papers that
discuss the historical contingency of these categories while exploring alternative taxonomies used in both
modern and premodern worlds.

We seek proposals that explore the ways in which the religious and the political interact with each other
and examine both the methodological and ethical implications of this interaction. Submissions may
address a range of time periods, traditions, and geographic areas. Papers may also be situated in
different disciplinary approaches including religious studies, political science, postcolonial studies,
history, anthropology, sociology, theology, and philosophy. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the

• Political histories of religion, and religious genealogies of political concepts
• Religious symbols and their publics, political semiotics, and the vernacular
• The invention of legitimate religion
• Liberation theology and religious discourses of postcolonial resistance
• The politics of scriptural authority
• Violence and the politics of secularism
More broadly, papers may also consider religion and political theory in the following terms:
• The coordinates of power of different political and religious formations
• The past and future of the discipline as a political entity and the ethical accountability of a
discipline that legitimizes and challenges dominant mythologies
• Religious and political teleologies of progress and understandings of “the good life” (e.g.,
medicine and wholeness; “Nature” and ecology; food and wellness)
• National identities, religious identities, and multiple forms of belonging
• The state and the place and space of public religion

All proposals and submissions will be due to by January 19, 2018.
Proposals should be 300 words in length for 15-20 minute presentations. Please also include the title of
your paper, institution, and graduate program. More information at
Participants will be notified of decisions by February 5.

Inquiries can be directed to the organizers (Quinn Clark and Verena Meyer) at