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Anthropology, Psychology and Religion

2023 Call for Papers

Dylan Belton, Villanova University (PA)

Bruno Shah, OP, Providence College

For this year’s Anthropology, Psychology, and Religion section, we are excited to engage the Convention’s theme of “Theology and Media(tion): Rendering the Absent Present.” Following CTS’s statement of the convention theme and the overarching orientation of this section, we are particularly interested in interdisciplinary, constructive, and reconstructive theological approaches that engage with (but certainly are not limited to) anthropology, psychology, sociology, psychoanalysis, ethnography, and other social-scientific and philosophical disciplines and methods. Suggested themes and questions for proposals include the following listed below, but we are by all means open to proposals that deal with different questions and themes:


      How can we think theologically and creatively about the senses as modes of mediation? What insights can be gleaned for theological purposes from other disciplines and from intercultural perspectives on the senses?


      What are the implications for accounts of mediation if reality is constitutively relational? How do different approaches to relationality negotiate the absence-presence binary?


      What “non-canonical” forms of mediation are operative in syncretist communities of global Christianity/religion?


      How do silenced, subaltern, and marginalized voices find paths of mediation into dominant scholarship/narratives?


      How has recent scholarship in psychology, sociology, and anthropology on “embodiment” supported, deepened, challenged previous interpretations of religious experience, ritual, and theological understanding?


      What challenges are posed to religious communities by new forms ofdigital social and digital news media? How do they challenge theologians to think differently about presence and absence?Are the digital media morally neutral, or are they already laden with positive or negative values for the human?


      The COVID pandemic has led to increased “online” church attendance and even online churches. What theological challenges and opportunities does this trend give rise to? Is there any recent anthropological or sociological literature that theologians can draw from to think through these issues?


      Recent scholarship in comparative ethology and the anthropology of human origins has focused on the importance of the “symbol” as a mode of sign unique to the human. How might theology contribute to interdisciplinary work on the symbol and semiotics more broadly understood?


      How might interdisciplinary scholarship help us think creatively about modes of mediation between humans and the divine operative in liturgies, rituals, the sacraments, and relics?


      “Culture” and “tradition” are highly contested and often vague categories. How can we think creatively about the presence of the past in terms of culture and traditions? What is the importance of material culture for theological reflection on presence and absence?


      What resources can other disciplines offer to theological reflection on the presence of the dead, angels/demons/other spiritual beings, and saints?


      Ethnography is becoming increasingly common in theological scholarship. What opportunities and challenges does ethnography give rise to, especially when it comes to the role of the scholar as mediator between the academy and the community where he or she conducted research?


We are also very interested in any proposals for a book panel focused on a recent publication that is of relevance for the convention theme.


We also welcome reflection on the “doctrinal” loci of theological reflection: incarnation, Christology, soteriology, eschatological, ecclesiology.



Please submit proposals to both conveners by December 15, 2022. They should be no more than 500 words in length and include the presenter’s institutional affiliation, position, and contact information, as well as any requests for AV support, and preliminary preferences for participating in person or virtually.  Ordinarily, presenters should be members of the CTS at the time of the meeting in June 2022.


Decisions will be communicated by January 15, 2023 at the email address provided.

The College Theology Society is a registered, non-profit professional society and a Related Scholarly Organization of the American Academy of Religion.


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