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Political Theology and Related Units: AAR/SLB 2023 Conference

The following post contains information that may be of interest for those attending AAR/SBL in San Antonio this year.

Liberation Theologies Unit

Theme: Labor is not enough

Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM

San Antonio Convention Center-Room 303C (Ballroom Level)

Maria T. Davila, Merrimack College, Presiding

This session considers the provocation “Labor is Not Enough.” Whether we are talking about the violence of the ‘adjunctification’ of the academy ; “right to work” legislation and its affront to full time or unionized labor; the promotion of anti-work or ‘good living’ ideologies; or the varieties of unpaid labor in our institutions and society at large – we are confronted with the reality that labor is not enough. In what ways does our work reflect this reality? In what ways does the religious academy participate in the structures that disenfranchise labor? Where is liberation to be found when labor – as it is hegemonically or counter-hegemonically construed – is not enough to sustain communities and life with dignity? Might there be categories and things that fail to be acknowledged as labor?

  • Jaira Koh, Boston University

Care is Not Enough Abolishing the Bread of Life, and Other Redistributions of Reproductive labour

  • Molly Crawford, Fordham University

Reimagining the Labor of the University as liberation

  • Lynnette Li, University of Denver

Comparing Strategies of Solidarity, Protest, ad Resistance by Christians in Hong Kong and Singapore

  • Celucien Jpseph, San Jacinto College, Central

Pope John Paul II, the Haitian Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Bishops, and the Emergence of Liberation Theology in Haiti

Theme: Enemies at Home: A Political-Theological Approach to Civil War

Saturday, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM

San Antonio Convention Center-Room 217B (Meeting Room Level)

David Newheiser, Australian Catholic University, Presiding

In this session, Paul Kahn will extend his earlier work on religion and political conflict by considering the prospect of civil war. There is reason to worry that political conflicts in America and elsewhere are in the process of hardening into an enmity that can no longer be contained by political process. By reflecting on the different roles played by the criminal and the enemy in political imagination, Kahn will explore the way the study of religion can help us come to grips with the crisis of democracy today.

Kahn’s initial presentation will be followed by three brief responses, and then by an extended period for open discussion.


  • Paul W. Kahn, Yale University


  • Winnifred Sullivan, Indiana University

Comparative Approaches to Religion and Violence Unit nd Religion, Social Conflict, and Peas Unit

Theme: Religion and Cold Civil Wars

Saturday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Grand Hyatt-Bowie C (2nd Floor)

Flagg Miller, University of California, Davis, Presiding

It has become popular to describe intractable divisions between domestic factions as cold civil wars. Our panel seeks to retheorize this heuristic category with studies of the QAnon conspiracy complex (USA); the Christians for National Liberation movement (Phillipines); and President Erdogan’s theological rhetoric (Turkey). 

  • Shelby King, University of California, Santa Barbara

The Verge of Revelation: Conspiracy Theories and the Powers of Secrecy

  • Ariel Siagan, University of Toronto

Exploring Revolutionary Violence: The Theology of Christians for National Liberation

  • Wendy Wiseman, University of California, Santa Barbara

Burak Kesgin, Beykent University, Istanbul

Disaster as Destiny?: Seismic Effects on Turkey’s Culture Wars

Theme: A Roundtable discussion of Beatrice Marovich’s Sister Death: Political Theologies for Living and Dying (Columbia University Press, 2023)

Saturday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

San Antonio Convention Center-Room 217A (Meeting Room Level)

Karen Bray, Wesleyan College, Presiding

A roundtable discussion of Beatrice Marovich’s Sister Death: Political Theologies for Living and Dying (Columbia University Press, 2023). Panelists will discuss how gender, race, philosophy, and ecology can pose critical questions about what Marovich calls a “political theology of death” that Christian thought has imported into political discourse in the contemporary United States.


Biko Gray, Syracuse University

Carol Wayne White, Bucknell University

M. Cooper Minister, Shenandoah University

Karmen MacKendrick, Le Boyne College


Beatrice Marovich, Hanover College

Theme: The Figure of the Enemy in Political Theology (1)

Saturday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

San Antonio Convention Center-Room 221C (Meeting Room Level)

An Yountae, California State University, Northridge, Presiding

This is the first in a pair of two sessions on the figure of the enemy. Carl Schmitt famously insisted that politics relies on the friend-enemy distinction, and later theorists such as Chantal Mouffe have harnessed this claim in service of democratic theory. Whereas some religious traditions gesture toward nonviolence as an ideal, the polarization of contemporary politics suggests that the figure of the enemy retains a powerful force.

The presentations in these sessions will revisit the history of reflection on the enemy in order to ask how it illuminates political conflicts that we face today – whether in relation to migration, racialized violence, and the conflict between religious communities.

  • Karola Radler, Stellenbosch University

“Why are you?”- The dialect tension of the friend-enemy theorem in Carl Schmitt’s “ *Gestalt*

  • Mac Loftin, Harvard University

The Far Right’s Kaleidoscopic Enemy

  • Julia Thwaites, Trinity College, Melbourne

Enmity, Economy, Eroticism: Understanding the erotic as economic relation with the internal enemy

  • Justin Bristow

Katechon Until Anarchy: Genealogies of the Eschatological Enemy


Paul W. Kahn, Yale, University

Queer Studies in Religion Unit

Theme: Responding to our Entanglements: Trans and Queer Politics of Relation

Saturday, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Marriott Rivercenter-Conference Room 13

Brandy Daniels, University of Porland, Presiding

Increased anti-trans legislation and sentiment in the U.S., manifested through media and buttressed by conservative Christianities, as well as pervasive reach of control alongside care shape the realities of trans and queer life. This panel addresses the politics of relationality, identity, and activism through theological and ethical disciplinary lenses. Papers that comprise this panel employ diverse methodologies to consider and address these entanglements across diverse contexts.

  • Ross Neir, Western Theological Seminary

“The Children of South Dakota Belong to Him”: Religious Rhetoric Among Activities Against Transgender Healthcare

  • Ludger Viefhues-Bailey, Le Moyne College

Anti-Trans Politics, Abortion, and Democracy’s Need to Police Reproduction: Contextualizing Christian Theology of “Gender Complementarity.”

  • Max Thornton, Drake University

Fingery Eyes, Fingery “I”s:A Trans Theology of Touching Genders

  • Shandon Klein, Sothern Methodist University

Quaring and Ethic of Resistance and an Ethic of Control: The Exemplar of Pauli Murray

Theme: Religion, Coloniality, and Humanitarianism

Sunday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

San Antonio Convention Center-Room 207A (Meeting Room Level)

Emma Tomalin, University of Leads, Presiding

In his 2012 book Humanitarian Reason, Didier Fassin argues that the lasting presence of religion, specifically Christianity, can be seen in the ascendency of humanitarian values in Western democratic societies. The primacy of “humanitarian reason,” Fassin contends, elevates the redemptive work of individual  and state humanitarian actors and virtues of compassion and charity over the political actions, historical struggles, and subjectivities of those Howard Thurman calls the “disinherited.”This form of response to an unequal world order all too often reifies victimhood and dominant power relations, and commodifies/valorizes the suffering of “others.” Inspired by and in dialogue with Fassin’s work, this panel examines the historical and ongoing relationship between religion, coloniality, and humanitarianism across global locales and in dialogue with decolonial scholarship.

  • Ali Lutz, Partners in Health

“Human Agency and Humanitarian Work: Sylvia Wyntr’s Decolonial Gaze from Below, Liberation Praxis, and the Transformation of Humanitarian Power

  • Silas Allard, Emory University

Salvation for the Heathen: Humanitarian Reason and the Policy of “Indian Removal”

  • David Tittensor, University of Melbourne, Matthew Clarke, Mark McGikllivray

Partnering in Bad Faith: Are we Seeing the Neo-Colonisation of Islamic Aid

  • Kim Akano, Princeton University

Humanitarian Reason in Black: African Americans and the “redemption of Africa”

  • Daniel Sebastian, Southern Methodist University

Accounting for Economic and Humanitarian Reason

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