The Contemporary Pagan Studies Group provides a place for scholars interested in pursuing studies in this newly developing and interdisciplinary field and puts them in direct communication with one another in the context of a professional meeting. New scholars are welcomed and supported, while existing scholars are challenged to improve their work and deepen the level of conversation. By liaising with other AAR Program Units, the Group creates opportunities to examine the place of Pagan religions both historically and within contemporary society and to examine how other religions may intersect with these dynamic and mutable religious communities.
• Contemporary Paganisms are experiencing an internal conversation and debate about routinization, or the need to establish institutions and a degree of legitimate cultural and social integration beyond the structure of small groups and umbrella organizations. While many Pagans believe that these structures will provide the conditions for sustainability, others believe that institutionalization is contrary to the nature of Pagan practice. We seek papers which explore various facets of routinization in contemporary Paganisms. Topics can include the changing nature of Pagan leadership, support for or resistance to institution building, perceptions of standardization of Pagan religious culture through publishing, recording etc., and professionalization of leadership. Comparative perspectives are always encouraged.
• It could be argued that contemporary Paganisms are characterized by ideologies, theologies and aesthetics that critique the narrative of progress and modernity. As a result, Pagan religiosity frequently focuses on cultural reconstruction, metaphors of tribalism, a return to “nature”, and the use of imagined and idealized pasts to create alternatively modern futures. We are seeking papers that explore the ways in which tropes of antimodernism and primitivism inform the development of modern Paganisms. Topics can include ritual, aesthetics, rhetoric, politics and activism. We also welcome comparative approaches.
To encourage conversation during this session, we will be participating in the AAR Full Paper Submission system. Full drafts of all accepted papers must be posted online several weeks prior to the Annual Meeting, and will be accessible to AAR members only. Participants will then have the opportunity to read all selected papers prior to the session. Presenters will have ten minutes to summarize their argument, and the remainder of the session will be devoted to discussion and comments regarding the submitted papers.
• For potential co-sponsorship by Contemporary Paganism Group and Religion and Sexuality Group: We welcome papers that critically engage the various ways in which transgender subjectivities, identities and practices challenge and destabilize perceptions of human and divine genders (especially in anthropomorphic traditions, but also including the Contemporary Pagan veneration of Goddess and God). Themes can include, but are not restricted to transgender and the ontological turn; transgender and new materialism; transgender and posthumanism. Papers can be focused around methodological, and/or empirical issues/approaches.
• There are a number of instances where the influence and exchange of belief and practice between Contemporary Paganisms and other religious groups has occurred. Examples include modern Celtic Christianity, ChristoPaganism, and the impact of Starhawk’s writings on Catholic theologian Rosemary Ruether. We invite papers that examine the complementarity and impact of modern Paganisms on other religions and that of other religions on Paganisms today. Topics might include hybridized ritual practice, environmentalism, theological exchanges and critiques, and the realities of living multiple religious identities.
Instructions on submitting proposals are here. The deadline is 5 p.m. EST, Tuesday, March 1, 2016.