CFP – “Religion, Race and National Identity” – Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

 In Call for Papers, Uncategorized

NOVEMBER 9 – 11, 2012
Hyatt Regency, PHOENIX, AZ

“Religion, Race, and National Identity”

For much of human history, religion has been tightly connected to peoplehood and to territory – to blood and land. Collective identity was a blending of faith with deep relational ties, in today’s terms, religion and race/ethnicity. To be a part of a people was to be located in a particular geographic place and social space, and bound by one’s god(s). While the rise of universalist monotheisms, and then modern society, challenged some aspects of these overlapping social realities, the rise of the nation-state did not disrupt it completely, as the existence of state churches and communalist national identities in Europe testify. Even in – perhaps especially in – our globalized, post-industrial society – ethno-religious connections form deep national identities that have produced social conflicts, wars, and even genocide in such disparate places as South Asia, the Balkans, the Horn of Africa, and the Nordic countries. These connections also can foster a deep sense of belonging in a world often seen as spinning out of control.

One story about the U.S. posits that the “first new nation” rejected these ascribed bases for national belonging, and was open to all ethnicities, cultures, and religions. As the story goes, American identity is an idea and an ideal to which one assented, not a tribe into which one was born. And yet an enduring issue in American life has been race. From the founding of the U.S. republic and the Constitution’s 3/5th clause, to the Civil War, to Martin Luther King’s “beloved community,” to the election of President Barack Obama and recent debates over immigration, race has been a structural fact and a cultural controversy in American life. And from John Winthrop’s “city on a hill,” to Great Awakenings, to millions of immigrating Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, to debates over school prayer, evolution, and claims as to whether the U.S. is a “Christian Nation,” religion has been an integral part of our national consensus even as it is often a source of deep conflict. These two staples of social life, race and religion, have been consistent axes around which American identity has revolved, as much in the 21st century as in the 18th.

Arizona has recently been at the center of a number of political issues surrounding issues of race, immigration, and American national identity. Many call recent Arizona policies implicitly racist, while others argue that the state is acting in the best interests of American territorial and cultural integrity. Clearly, issues of blood and land remain salient in American life and politics. As such, Phoenix becomes a setting in which we can confront the relations among religion, race, and national identity with the perspectives of social science.

Papers and discussions are invited on a broad range of topics in the social scientific study of religion relating to the meeting theme, including, but not limited to:

• Religion and the politics of immigration
• The ‘culture wars’ and religious commitments
• Religion and American political culture
• Religion and global migration
• Race and religious practices
• Multiracial churches and efforts at diversity
• Religious justifications of and challenges to racial inequality
• Theories of religion and social power
• Religion and multiple arenas of social conflict
• Religion and the election season of 2012

As always, we seek an inclusive mix of substantive, theoretical, and methodological approaches. Therefore, proposals for sessions and papers that fall outside the formal theme are also welcome.

All session and paper proposals must be submitted via the on-line submission system that will be available on the SSSR’s web site,, beginning January 15, 2012. In addition to the session proposer’s full contact information, a session proposal requires a session title and an abstract of not more than 150 words describing the goal of the session and how the proposer expects the session to contribute to scientific knowledge about religion. Paper proposals require the name(s) of the author(s), first author’s full contact information, an abstract of not more than 150 words that succinctly describes the question(s) motivating the research, the data and methods used, and what the paper contributes or expects to contribute to the knowledge or understanding of religion. The submission deadline is March 1, 2012.

Submissions Open: January 15, 2012 (see
Submissions Close: March 1, 2012
Decision Notification: April 5, 2012

Please direct questions to:
Ryan T. Cragun, Program Chair
University of Tampa
401 W Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33603
(813) 434-1458;

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