It was a successful first year for the Secularism and Secularity Program Unit of the American Academy of Religion, which sponsored or co-sponsored four panels at the AAR’s annual meeting in Baltimore this past November. The call for papers for the 2014 meeting in San Diego is now available, and the deadline for submissions is March 3rd.
In recent years, scholars have begun to attend to the ways in which secularism develops uniquely in specific national contexts. This work has analyzed the various legal, political, and cultural formations that go under the sign of secularism, as well as how religions of the majority or the ruling class can appear unmarked while simultaneously reshaping less powerful groups and traditions in the name of the secular neutral. At the same time, other scholars have traced the genealogies of secularism and the secular to a particular historical transformation in the North Atlantic and to particular historical articulations within Christianity and capitalism. Thus the broad question remains: What is the relationship between the general and the particular in thinking about secularism? More specifically, what is the origin of secularism, and how has it become available as a universal frame and structuring logic? We invite proposals that engage these questions through original historical or social scientific research, and we are especially interested in papers that elaborate the moments and mechanisms of transformation from the “religious” to the “secular” and vice versa. We also encourage proposals that investigate the body, culture, and materiality as sites of secular transmission and transformation.
Papers that consider the particularity of national secularisms in Europe or the role of Europe in the development of secularism will be considered for a cosponsored panel with the Religion in Europe Group.
In addition, we welcome papers that rely on original research to explore the heterogeneity of the religiously unaffiliated, with a particular interest in the varieties of non-theism for a cosponsored session with the Religion and the Social Sciences Section; Sociology of Religion Group; and the Religious Conversions Group.