2015 Biennial Meeting

Biennial Conference April 16-19, 2015

Religion, Ritual and Morality

SAR meets every other year for a vibrant and diverse conference of research and ideas in the anthropology of religion. The next meeting of SAR will be in San Diego, California from April 16 to April 19, 2015. The theme of the meeting will be “Religion, Ritual and Morality” (see abstract below).

Meeting Information:

When: April 16 to April 19, 2015

Where: Handlery Hotel

Address: 950 Hotel Circle North, San Diego California.

Rates: $119 Single and Double, $139 Triple and Quad

Phone: 619-298-0511 or 800-676-6567. (Refer to: Society for the Anthropology of Religion to book the group rate).

You can also book the group rate here.

Reservation deadline is March 17, 2015.

Submitting Papers and Panels for the Meeting

The Program Committee for the Meeting is now accepting paper and panel submissions. Paper abstracts should be not more than 250 words and should include the presenter’s name, institution, and email address. Panel Abstracts should be not more than 500 words (not counting the abstracts for the constituent papers). Panels can be of a range of sizes. Paper and panel abstracts should be submitted to the Chair of the Program Committee, Professor Adeline Masquelier <[email protected]>. Submissions will close on January 15, 2015.

Meeting Abstract:

Religion, Ritual and Morality

The anthropology of morality and ethics is growing rapidly at present. Anthropologists of religion have a long history of treating these topics, at least implicitly. But the great contemporary theoretical ferment around issues of morality and ethics means that this is a good moment to explore their importance for the anthropology of religion, and to consider the ways our work on this topic connects us to other areas of anthropology.

From its Durkheimian (and Weberian) roots forward, the anthropology of religion andritual has attended to the role of moral norms and values in shaping social action. Ritual has long been seen as a forum in which moral goods are defined and moral evils are explored and sometimes vanquished. Anthropologists of religion have also investigated the key role religious doctrines play in fostering moral motivations and rendering moral systems coherent and attractive to those who live with them. Many classic works in the anthropology of religion – from Evans-Pritchard to Mary Douglas, Victor Turner and Roy Rappaport – are filled with trenchant observations concerning the bearing of religion and ritual on moral life.

Yet perhaps because the classic anthropology of religion was so saturated with data on morality and ethics, this topic was not always directly theorized. Recent work focused on ethics and religion has changed this situation. This work has shown how issues of morality and ethics are central to considerations of agency, power, meaning,and economic life. It has also posed new questions around topics like self-fashioning,freedom, social breakdown, cognition, health and emotion.

A key goal of this conference is to bring all of this new work – much of it done by members of SAR – into explicit dialogue with the anthropology of religion. How might we revisit classic anthropological theories of topics such as witchcraft, sacrifice, religious meaning, cosmology, healing, the nature of ritual efficacy, conversion, religious change,or religious charity in relation to questions of ethics and morality? What new theoretical vistas open up when we consider important themes of the emerging anthropology of ethics such as breakdown, the ordinary, and the power of emotions in relation to our studies of religion and ritual?

The anthropology of morality and ethics is currently wide-open, with a vast range of topics and approaches developing at once. It is hoped this conference will reflect this kind of openness. There is room for panels and papers on all manner of topics, from the most traditional to the previously untouched. Some possible panel topics are suggested below, but this is just to stimulate further ideas. Members should feel free to take the topic in any directions they find of interest that bear on the relationship between ritual,religion and morality.

Possible Panels or Sub-Topics

Ritual, Agency and Morality

Religion and Moral Change

Is There Such Thing as a Secular Ethics?

Religion and Moral Self-Formation

Religion, Psychology and Ethics

Religion, Ritual and Moral Emotions

Freedom, Ritual and Religion

Religious Politics and Morality

Religion and Moral Authority

Witchcraft as Moral Practice

Religion, Morality and the Law

Immorality and Religious Transgression

Religion and Evil

Religion and Medical Ethics

Millenarianism, Morality and Agency