This weekend (November 19 – 22) is the annual American Academy of Religion (AAR) convention. Though I have been a member of the guild for five years, this is my first convention in three years. Two years ago the convention was too far away to justify the time and expense. Last year, even though the convention was in the city in which I was living, I was in the middle of comprehensive exams and could not make an appearance. This year, I am actually presenting a paper!
Those of you who are interested in what 10,000 scholars of religion get together and talk about for 4 days, check out the twitter feeds of my colleagues Michael J. Altman, Kelly J. Baker, and Ben Brazil. I suppose you can check me out as well, though I am not sure if I will be live tweeting.
Michael and Kelly created lists of panels they were excited about. While my panel, sadly, did not make either of their lists (See Kelly’s list here and Michael’s list here.) 😦 I am still excited about it. It is my first presentation at AAR, it is in a section that generally receives a lot of submissions, and my paper topic is related to my dissertation. Thus, I will get a chance to test drive some of my ideas in a forum where many of the experts in my particular subfield will be in attendance. Further, there is a good chance my main interlocutor, Robert Bellah, will be in attendance! Now that I think about it, I am trying not to get freaked out.
My topic is “The Fourth Time of Trial – American Civil Religion in the Age of Global Terrorism”. My paper engages Bellah’s times of trial thesis, mediated by his more developed understanding of American civil religion in The Broken Covenant, to explain the challenges to American identity presented by our war on global terrorism. I only get twenty minutes so I focus primarily on the challenges to the virtues of tolerance and diversity and how Presidents Bush and Obama answered them in their unofficial role as the high priest of American civil religion.
Here is the information for my panel:
Sociology of Religion
Sunday 9:00am to 11:30am; IC-Laurel Hill
Ipsita Chatterjea, Vanderbilt University, Presiding
Theme: Civil Religion: Critical Debates
Margit Warburg, University of Copenhagen
Civil War and Civil Religion: An Analysis of a Civil Religious Victory Feast in Denmark
Jennifer Caplan, Syracuse University
Civil Religion in a Brave New World
Jermaine M. McDonald, Emory University
The Fourth Time of Trial: American Civil Religion in the Age of Global Terrorism
Eileen Barker, London School of Economics
Nonreligious Civil Religion in Contemporary Society
Robert A. Segal, University of Aberdeen
Bellah’s Attempted Revival of Evolution in the Study of Religion
If you attend and have comments about my paper, I’d love to read them. Add them to the comments section of this post. Or use the contact form on this site to send me a message.