Call for Papers for Bahá’í Studies Unit at 2017 American Academy of Religion Conference: Deadline March 1

“Religion and Public Discourse in an Age of Transition” is the title of the Call for Papers recently issued by the Bahá’í Studies Unit of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) to be held at the AAR conference in Boston, November 18–21, 2017. Please note that the deadline for submitting abstracts is March 1.

Bahá’í Studies Unit, American Academy of Religion, Boston, MA, November 18–21, 2017
Conference Co-organizers: Robert Stockman, Indiana University South Bend, and Benjamin Schewel, University of Virginia

Scholarship on the role of religion in the public sphere is undergoing a period of transition and flux, influencing disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. For nearly two centuries, the prevalent view has been that religion’s influence on social and political affairs would diminish as the forces of modernity advanced. Articulated as the “theory of secularization,” this view has led scholars to systematically exclude religion as a variable in social analysis. Yet by the late twentieth century it had become clear that religion’s influence was not undergoing such rapid decline. To the contrary, it seemed to be resurging in almost every region of the world. These developments have led to a broad reconsideration of both the role of religion in modern societies and the influence of secularism on the study of social and political life.

It is not yet clear, however, what theories and approaches should alternatively be used. Is every feature of secularization theory invalidated, or only certain propositions? Is there another theoretical framework that we might look to instead, or should we concentrate now on analyzing particular socioreligious dynamics? Furthermore, given the prominent public role that religious actors are currently playing throughout the world, policymakers and practitioners cannot simply wait for scholars to work out their theoretical debates. What resources, then, do they have to think about the constructive and destructive roles that religion plays in the modern world? What strategies and insights can they use to encourage the former and mitigate the latter?

The purpose of this panel is to make a fresh contribution to the growing, interdisciplinary body of academic literature that addresses these themes by examining the participation of the Bahá’í community in the life of society. Several panel presentations will be offered by authors in the forthcoming edited volume “Religion and Public Discourse in an Age of Transition: Reflections on Bahá’í Practice and Thought,” to be published in the Bahá’í Studies Series of Wilfrid Laurier Press in Canada. Additional proposals are welcome from scholars working in any discipline and/or tradition who address the themes mentioned above.

Each presentation should be 20 minutes in length; a 10-minute Q & A will be allowed per presenter.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words with your presentation title. Also attach a 1-page CV that includes your contact information (name, institutional affiliation, and email address). Send these to Robert Stockman, Philosophy Department, Indiana University South Bend ( The deadline for submission is March 1, 2017.

Contact Info:
Robert Stockman
Philosophy Department, Indiana University South Bend
Contact Email:

Bahá’ís interested in relating religion to their field of interest should consider attending the next AAR conference, which will be held in Boston, November 18–21, 2017. Watch the Conference Column in future issues of the eNewsletter to see when registration opens, or keep checking the American Academy of Religion website. You will need to join AAR to be able to attend.

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