2012 Call For Sessions

Society for the Anthropology of Religion announces a call for Invited Session Proposals, Panels, Papers, Roundtables and Workshops for the 111th Annual Meeting of the AAA

Dear SAR Members,

The 111th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association will be held on November 14-18, 2012, in San Francisco. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Borders and Crossings.” We encourage you to propose invited sessions, panels, papers and roundtables for the meeting. Our workshop teaching anthropology of religion at last year’s meeting in Montreal was very successful, and we’d be happy to sponsor more workshops this year. Read on for information about submission and the conference theme.

Invited Sessions and Roundtables

If you are organizing a panel or roundtable that connects well with the anthropology of religion and the theme of this year’s meeting and therefore deserves greater visibility, we encourage you to submit it for consideration as a SAR invited session or invited roundtable. SAR is eager to sponsor and to share sponsorship with other AAA sections. Organizers seeking invited session status must submit full sessions or roundtables into the online system by March 15 in order to be considered. Proposals must be complete, with a full panel abstract and full abstracts and affiliation information for all participants in the panel. The SAR Program Committee will review proposals and the Program Chair, Maarit Forde, will inform organizers of their invited status decision by April 4, 2012. Proposals that do not receive invited status will automatically be transferred to the regular review process for a decision in late July. All participants must be registered by April 15 to be considered.

Panels, Papers, Roundtables and Posters

The submission deadline for panels, papers, and posters to AAA is April 15, 2012. SAR members who are thinking about presenting a paper or poster or organizing a panel should begin preparations as soon as possible. These proposals can be submitted online at the AAA website, www.aaanet.org.


Instructional workshops are a valuable, revenue-generating activity for sections. We strongly encourage you to consider organizing a workshop. Suggested themes include, but are not limited to, teaching anthropology of religion, disseminating research as a graduate student and on the postdoctoral level, visual methods in anthropology of religion, or engaging with the media as an anthropologist of religion. The workshop must be entered into the online submissions system by April 15, 2012 (there is a separate section for workshop submissions). Workshops can have up to four presenters. These roles do not count against your regular one-role rule as this is an instructional course.

Program Theme Information

Carolyn Rouse, 2012 Executive Program Chair

The 2012 AAA Annual Meeting in San Francisco offers the perfect venue for thinking about border crossings across time, space, embodied differences, language and culture. If we have learned anything in the last decade with the increasing globalization of social movements, the election of the first black US president, and the legalization of gay marriage in five states, it is that borders—taboos, injunctions, stigmas and resource flows—are not fixed, but open to renegotiation. It is in that spirit that we dedicate this meeting to recognizing our discipline’s borders and those borders’ permeability to relevant transgressions. We want to acknowledge the structures, genealogies and technological changes that continue to shape our research questions, methodological choices, and subsequent interventions in the fields of archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology and sociocultural anthropology. With respect to disciplinary exclusions and inclusions, the institutional and discursive constraints that shape what we can and cannot do are ours to own and ours to overcome.

Similar to other traditional disciplines, anthropology has increasingly become an interdisciplinary practice, but what is lost and what is gained from such borrowings? Our disciplinary contribution to the social sciences includes our scientific and interpretive methods of knowledge production. But when scholars in other fields use our methods, do we recognize their work as anthropological? And is our work recognizable across disciplines? These meetings offer a chance to reflect on the challenges and opportunities posed by both the crossings by other disciplines into what has long been viewed as our intellectual and methodological terrain as well as anthropology’s incorporation of interdisciplinary strategies.

World anthropologies, engaged anthropology, and modes of scientific inquiry are three areas within our discipline that challenge questions of knowledge production at the borders of our field. “World anthropologies” reminds us that anthropology has been taken up differently outside the United States and Europe, and therefore it is important to bring scholars from all over the world together in order to develop a clearer sense of our discipline’s topography. Engaged, collaborative, or applied anthropologists who are embedded with environmental, medical and other specialists, ask us to expand our notions of research objectivity and the potential of both qualitative and quantitative research to address social problems. Finally, we continue to reflect on how anthropology sits alongside other sciences as well as how the anthropology of science is reshaping disciplinary boundaries.

Attending to the borders we construct around our discipline allows us to examine how far we can take our discipline methodologically and still recognize and value our work as anthropology. As we explore the centers and outer edges of our field, we have to ask: What keeps us from crossing over permanently into other— imagined or not—disciplinary terrains? Is it the audience we anticipate? The history of our discipline? Is it a mistrust of qualitative or quantitative data? And why do we self-censor? Is it because of funding issues? Legitimacy and translation issues? And what stories do we choose to study and why? By essentially mapping our discipline it is our hope that this meeting will offer our association a chance to celebrate our methodological and theoretical diversity, reaffirm our expertise, transcend our differences, and strengthen efforts to expand our knowledge of the human condition across sub-fields and through a variety of perspectives.

Given our Borders and Crossings theme, we are planning various ways to promote lively conversations throughout the meeting, including a new initiative to encourage reading klatches in cafés and bars to engage early anthropological texts, broadly defined. Our goal in celebrating our disciplinary roots is to remind us of how methodologically open and experimental the founders of our discipline were with respect to scientific and interpretive knowledge production.

Our discussions throughout the meeting on Borders and Crossings will help us gain a fresh sense of how anthropology remains a discipline of engagement and collaboration, and how important it is to acknowledge the indigenous epistemologies that inform our theory.

Contact Information

Questions about panels, papers, posters, workshops or invited session proposals should be sent to the SAR Section Program Chair, Maarit Forde, at maarit.forde “at” sta.uwi.edu.

All the best,
Maarit Forde
Section Program Chair, Society for the Anthropology of Religion