Animism, Religion, Bloggers, and the AAR

The annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion is followed by what I think of as Hell Weekend. At least it is that if you chair or co-chair one of the many program units. Me, I am co-chair of the Contemporary Pagan Studies Group, but I suspect that all my colleagues go through the same process — after Thanksgiving wears off, you have just a weekend to answer the online survey that constitutes your program-unit survey and, most importantly, to compose the “call for papers”  for next year’s meeting.

The last part is done in collaboration with your steering committee, which in our case is scattered over nine Northern Hemisphere time zones — plus one in Australia.

The “call” is released in January, and people have about two months to submit proposals for papers, invited panel discussions, roundtables, etc. — most of which will be turned in at the last possible minute, for what are professors but students who never left the university?

Then the AAR staff, aided by wizard computer algorithms and trained owls, must fit all of the planned sessions into a four-day meeting, knowing that whoever gets the dreaded Tuesday-morning slots (when many participants are already leaving) will feel marginalized, disrespected, and sad.

One of our themes in 2014 (in San Diego) will be the New Animism, “new” in that it moves away from Edward Tylor’s old idea that animism is merely the first step of the ladder on the way to monotheism and instead treats it as a viable way of approaching the world, in which other-than-human entities are also active agents.

Not coincidentally, there is a book tie-in, the release of Graham Harvey’s edited collection, the Handbook of Contemporary Animism, currently available only in high-priced hardback from the friendly people at Acumen Publishing for whom I have nothing but the highest regard.

But while academia moves at its careful pace, there are plenty of other people writing about animism.

I have some books that I need to review here, but, meanwhile, click over to read about the December Animist Blog Carnival on the theme of “Animism and Religion.” Lots of good stuff here. (No connection with the AAR.) And consider this blog post to be my after-the-fact contribution to the blog carnival.

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