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Secularism and secularity at the AAR

posted by Wei Zhu

At the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, to be held November 23-26 in Baltimore, a new program unit on “Secularism and Secularity” will sponsor four sessions. The first, “Is the School a Secular Site?: The Study of American Education, Religion, and Secularity,” will take place November 23, 1:00PM-3:30PM. Jonathon Kahn will chair the panel, which will explore how schools have “played central roles in how lines between ‘religion’ and ‘secular,’ ‘sectarian’ and ‘nonsectarian’ have been drawn, contested, and redrawn—whether in defining religion clause doctrine or shaping the moral futures of particular religious groups.” The second, “Religious ‘Nones': Understanding the Unaffiliated,” will take place November 24, 9:00AM-11:30AM. Per Smith will preside over the discussion of the papers, which employ a variety of social science methodologies and analytical frameworks to explore the rise of the American religious “nones.” The third, “Producing Secularism in Public Spaces,” will take place November 25, 9:00AM-11:30AM. Jonathan VanAntwerpen will chair the session, which features papers that all grapple, in one way or another, with the public production of secularism at diverse sites throughout the world. The fourth, “Memorializing the Secular: Martyrs, Mourners and Saints on the (Non)religious Borderland,” co-sponsored with the “Death, Dying, and Beyond” group, will take place November 26, 9:00AM-11:30AM. A. David Lewis will preside over the dialogue between the essays, which examine several settings for the “secular” memorializing of the admired dead.

There will also be several related sessions on secularism, including one on “How Religion Speaks the Secular” (chaired by Finbarr Curtis), on “Secular and Sacred? The Scandinavian Case of Religion in Human Rights, Law and Public Space” (panelists include José Casanova, Trygve Wyller, Rosemarie van den Breemer, and Brian Turner), on “Religion on the Edge: De-centering and Re-centering the Sociology of Religion” (related to an earlier TIF series: Toward a new sociology of religion?), and on “Discussing the ‘Nones': What They Say about the Category of Religion and American Society” (chaired by Richard Callahan).

Finally, another AAR session relates directly to the work of The Immanent Frame and a range of similar digital projects on secularism and religion. “Making (the Study of) Religion Online: New Media and the Study of Religion” will be held November 23, 4:00 PM-6:30 PM.  Kathryn Reklis will chair this panel, which includes panelists Kathryn Lofton, Paul Brandeis RaushenbushJeff Sharlet, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen.

More information on these and other sessions can be found in the AAR’s Online Program Book.

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One Response to “Secularism and secularity at the AAR”

  1. avatar A. David Lewis says:

    All of these sound terrific (except for the moderator of the Tuesday panel — sheesh!).

    I’m particularly disappointed that, since I’m arriving Sunday, I will miss the “Religions Online” one. Will anyone be streaming, blogging, or live-Tweeting it? (I enjoy the background conversation of panels on Twitter as they are unfolding, both for those in attendance and those who cannot be there live.)

    Moreover, would anyone like to live-Tweet the Tuesday panel? We could decide on a hashtag in advance.

    Thanks!
    @adlewis

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