“I belong to no religion. My religion is love”: Sufism, Religious Studies, and Love

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By now you’ve probably heard about the theme for next year’s American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting, revolutionary love, and the controversy surrounding it.  Some of my colleagues, Russell McCutcheon and Merinda Simmons, have written about it, and the Bulletin for the Study of Religion is posting a series of responses.

Revolutionary love, or any kind of love, has not been considered the purview or state of being of all people.  Scholars have played an important role in using ideas about love to reassert feelings of estrangement, difference, and exclusion.  Europeans in the 18th and 19th century used love and its connection to Sufism to create distinctions between Western civilization, European culture, colonial society, and the Islamic tradition.  More recently, both Muslims and non-Muslims have used the idea of Sufism and its connection to love to distinguish between authentic and inauthentic Muslims. By uncritically adopting the theme of Revolutionary Love and positing love as universal, the AAR has overlooked how “love” has been and continues to be used to construct “the West” through the exclusion of Muslims. Continue reading

Should We Pull at Our (Funding) Strings?

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The American Academy of Religion recently held a consultation with its membership about “Responsible Research Practices: A Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct for AAR Members.” A grand total of four scholars responded to the statement on the AAR’s website. A online quick search for responses elsewhere returned nothing, other than a series of posts by Russell McCutcheon. Unless members of this scholarly association are just waiting for the session at the AAR’s annual meeting where further discussion will be held, the response to the Statement seems to be mostly crickets. Continue reading

What We Claim to Be

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Mark Ortiz is a senior double-majoring in Religious Studies and New College with a depth study in Political Ecology. He is especially interested in climate politics and that bundle of things and stuff we call “nature.”

Continuing a project I recently blogged about, I decided to make use of the American Academy of Religion’s (AAR) online “Syllabus Project”: a database of syllabi submitted voluntarily by professors and teachers in the field. I was looking for “Introduction to Religious Studies” course syllabi to better understand how professors around the United States approach the introductory class. What I found was a bit surprising and, I would like to suggest, indicative of a major issue in the discipline.

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REL Faculty Stay Class in San Diego

2014AMBannerDon’t be surprised if a few offices are empty next week. Many of our wonderful REL faculty will be spending November 22-25 in sunny San Diego for the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature or AAR/SBL for short or #SBLAAR14 for hashtag.

What will our faculty be doing in San Diego?

Glad you asked.

Some will be giving papers or talks to other scholars and sharing the research they’ve been doing.

giphy-9Others will be listening to other scholars’ talks and deciding what they think.

giphy-10Some might even ask a question to find out more about their colleagues’ research.

BMWqYY6CEAAuz9t.jpg-largeSome will check out the giant book exhibit and load up on new titles.

giphy-12Some will just be excited to see old friends.

giphy-11But what exactly will they be doing? Here’s a run down:

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