AAA 2023 Travel Grants Awarded

Ahead of the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the Society for the Anthropology of Religion awarded four travel grants to scholars from groups underrepresented in the academy and those who do not have secure employment. The following presenters received funding to deliver papers at the conference in Toronto:

  • Valerio Di Fonzo, University of New Mexico, “Who is the Catholic Church? Examining the Practices of a Jesuit NGO in the Peruvian Amazon”
  • Marc R. Loustau, Springfield College, “‘The Means of Grace’: Toward a Weberian Social Anthropology of Catholic Bureaucracy”
  • Muhammad Osama Imran, University of Minnesota, “Breaths of Extimacy: Haunted Subjectivities and Free Submission in the Sufi Practice of Zikr”
  • Abdul Majeed Ottakandathil, McGill University, “Prefiguration of the present and reappearance of the past in the lives of converts to Islam in South India”

SAR Student Paper Prizes Awarded

At this month’s annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the 2023 SAR Student Paper Prize winner and runner-up were announced as follows:

The winner was Irene Promodh (University of Michigan) for “(Un)Holy Gold: Arabi Ponnu and a Transregional Politics of Caste Among Kerala Christians.”

Irene Promodh receives the 2023 SAR Student Paper Prize from prize committee co-chair Britt Halvorson for “(Un)Holy Gold: Arabi Ponnu and a Transregional Politics of Caste Among Kerala Christians.”

The runner-up was Ray Qu (University of Virginia) for “How spirits hope? Embodied suffering, complex temporality, and an expanded spectrum of hope in North China.”

Ray Qu receives the 2023 SAR Student Paper Runner Up Award from prize committee co-chair Britt Halvorson for “How spirits hope? Embodied suffering, complex temporality, and an expanded spectrum of hope in North China.”

Geertz Prize 2023 Winner and Honorable Mentions

At this month’s annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the 2023 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion, as well as two honorable mentions, were awarded to the following recipients:

Winner: The Sound of Salvation: Voice, Gender, and the Sufi Mediascape in China (Columbia University Press) by Guangtian Ha.

Honorable Mention: Christianity, Politics and the Afterlives of War in Uganda: There is Confusion (Bloomsbury Academic) by Henni Alava.

Honorable Mention: Guarded by Two Jaguars: A Catholic Parish Divided by Language and Faith (The University of Arizona Press) by Eric Hoenes del Pinal.

Eric Hoenes del Pinal receives an honorable mention award in the 2023 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion competition from prize committee chair Naomi Haynes.

SAR Election Results

The SAR welcomes three new additions to the board and two returning board members who will serve terms from November 2023 to November 2025, following the AAA meetings in Toronto in November 2023.  The new members of the board include Jacob Hickman (BYU), who will serve as Treasurer, and Elayne Oliphant (NYU) and Michael Edwards (Cambridge) will serve as members-at-large. Angie Heo (Chicago) and Candace Lukasik (Mississippi State) will return for their final terms as members-at-large.

SAR 2023 Recap

Final Report
Society for the Anthropology of Religion (SAR) 
2023 Biennial Conference
University of Victoria, May 12-14, 2023

The 2023 Biennial Meetings of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion were held at the University of Victoria, in Victoria, British Columbia on the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples from May 12 to 14, 2023. Under the theme of “Religious Assemblages,” the conference was hosted by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Victoria and co-organized with the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives. Fifteen University of Victoria undergraduate and graduate students provided indispensable support as volunteers. A welcome ceremony was held with Doug and Kathy Horne in recognition of the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

Indigenous Tsawout elders Doug and Kathy Horne delivered the welcome address to the SAR membership.

During the conference 110 papers were delivered on 29 panels by scholars based in Canada, the US, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Finland, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Israel. There were 120 total registrants and panels were organized in 3 or 4 concurrent sessions. Roughly half of the attendees were graduate students.

The conference sought to provide career development opportunities for graduate students and junior scholars. There were 3 mentoring sessions for junior scholars on writing for the public (organized by Sophie Bjork James, Vanderbilt University), navigating the academic job market (organized by Rachel Brown, University of Victoria), and grant writing (organized by Courtney Handman, University of Texas). There were 4 workshops for graduate students to develop scholarship on the following topics: NGOs & Humanitarianism (directed by Britt Halvorson, Colby College), Postcolonial, Decolonial, & Anti-Colonial Approaches (directed by Angie Heo, University of Chicago), Anthropology & Theology (directed by Basit Iqbal, MacMaster University), and Religion & Environment (directed by Mayfair Yang, UC Santa Barbara).

University of Victoria faculty member Rachel Brown organized a membership session on navigating the academic job market

There were 3 keynote addresses at the SAR biennial. The Roy Rappaport Distinguished Lecture in the Anthropology of Religion was delivered by Irfan Ahmad of Ibn Haldun University. The Albert Hung Lecture was delivered by Lucinda Ramberg of Cornell University. Daromir Rudnyckyj of the University of Victoria delivered the SAR Presidential Lecture.

Lucinda Ramberg (Cornell) delivered the 2023 Albert Hung Lecture
Daromir Rudnyckyj (U Victoria) delivered the 2023 SAR Presidential Lecture

The conference was financially supported by the SAR membership and a number of units at the University of Victoria including: the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, the Centre for Global Studies, the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies, the Global South Program, the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost, the Office of the Vice-President Associate Vice-President of Research, the Religion, Culture and Society Program, and the World History Program.

University of Victoria graduate students William Campbell (standing) and Leah Mernaugh (seated middle) and undergraduates Jonvie Lockhart (seated right) and Mackenzie Reed (seated left) ensured that the conference ran smoothly

Feedback from the conference was overwhelmingly positive. Attendees commented on the depth and rigor of the scholarly dialogue inspired by the papers and keynote addresses. Also well-regarded was the conference organization, which many attendees commented was impeccably coordinated. Finally, the weather cooperated and Victoria and the campus was revealed in full flower, so much so that many colleagues expressed an intent to apply for any positions that might come open in the coming years!

SAR 2023 Mentoring Sessions

Religious Assemblages
Society for the Anthropology of Religion (SAR) Biennial Conference

Attendees of the SAR 2023 Biennial Meeting at the University of Victoria are invited to join any of the following mentoring sessions.

Mentorship Session: Writing for the Public (Open to all)
Organized by Sophie Bjork James (Vanderbilt U)
Friday, May 12, 1:30-2:45 PM in MAC D114
This mentorship session covers strategies for writing op-eds and other public writing about
religion. We will cover reasons to or not to engage in public writing as well as resources available
for scholars wanting to engage in public writing.

Mentorship Session Grant Writing (Open to all)
Organized by Courtney Handman (U of Texas)
Saturday, May 13, 9:00-10:15 AM in MAC D114
This mentorship session will go over some of the main pitfalls to avoid and the most important elements to include in preparing a grant application. We will primarily discuss the Wenner-Gren application, although the discussion will be relevant to almost any dissertation research grant.

Mentorship Session: Navigating the Academic Job Market (Open to all)
Organized by Rachel Brown (U of Victoria)
Saturday, May 13, 2:45-4:15 PM in MAC D111
“Brace yourself: Navigating a declining academic job market.” In this mentoring session Dr. Rachel Brown will explore some strategies for navigating the ever-changing, declining and often confusing academic job market.

SAR 2023 Workshops

Small group workshops for graduate students:

This year we will host a number of small group workshops during the SAR 2023 biennial meeting. Each workshop will have room for up to four graduate students and be led by one faculty facilitator. Each graduate student will pre-circulate a short (no more than 10 pages double spaced) paper to their small group prior to the conference. During the conference, the faculty facilitator will meet privately with the small group and discuss the papers, as well as issues and concerns related to the topic more broadly. It is a great chance to have some focused attention on your work, meet other students working on the same issues, and develop your project.

Small group workshop topics and faculty facilitators:

  • NGOs & Humanitarianism — Britt Halvorson, Colby College
  • Postcolonial, Decolonial, & Anti-Colonial Approaches  – Angie Heo, University of Chicago
  • Anthropology & Theology – Basit Iqbal, MacMaster University
  • Religious Migrations/Migrating Religion – Candace Lukasik, Mississippi State University
  • Religion & Environment – Mayfair Yang, UC Santa Barbara

If you are interested in participating in one of these sessions, please turn in an application by March 20 that includes:

  • the name of the session you are interested in
  • a brief description of the short paper you would present (200 words max)

Please send your application via email to The deadline for applications is March 20, 2023.

You may apply to participate in up to two different sessions.

If selected, you will need to send your paper to your facilitator by May 1.

Call for Submissions: 2023 Geertz Prize

The Society for the Anthropology of Religion
A section of the American Anthropological Association
announces the 2023 juried competition for the


The Geertz Prize seeks to encourage excellence in the anthropology of religion by recognizing an outstanding recent book in the field.  The prize is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished contributions to the anthropological study of religion.  In awarding the Prize, the Society hopes to foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.


Any single-authored or co-authored book focusing on the anthropology of religion, broadly defined, is eligible for the Prize. Edited volumes, textbooks, and reference works are not eligible, nor are works in which religion is a secondary subject. The book’s author need not be an anthropologist by profession, but the work should draw on and respond to research and theory within the anthropology of religion. Books must have a publication date of 2021 or 2022. Books that have already been reviewed for the Prize will not be reconsidered.

The prize will be awarded at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in November 2023.

Submission guidelines

If you would like your book to be considered, please ask your publisher to contact me at To receive additional information on how to submit a book for consideration, please contact me via email. Deadline for submission of books is:

April 1, 2023

Naomi Haynes
Chair, 2023 Geertz Prize Committee