Over the past several months, the steering committee of the Political Theology Network has deliberated about its goals and aims. The result of this deliberation is the following short statement of our Points of Unity. This is a living document, but serves as a statement of our current commitments and aspirations for the field.
Political theology describes a field of research that focuses on the interaction of religion and politics while appreciating the richness of religious traditions as they relate to the foundations of political issues. Scholars of political theology are found in religious studies departments as well as departments of history, literature, cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy, and theology.
In the last two decades scholarship in political theology has grown rapidly. The journal Political Theology commenced in 1999, and now publishes eight issues per year. Academic monographs abound, including three book series. An exploratory program unit on political theology at the American Academy of Religion recently became a permanent unit. In 2018, for the first time, two tenure-track jobs were advertised in the field of political theology.
The Political Theology Network was founded in 2018 to support the development of this emerging academic field by cultivating the next generation of scholars and pivoting the field toward meaningful public engagement. The PTN is organized around several nodes—the journal Political Theology, the website politicaltheology.com, annual conferences, and more. These various nodes are held together by shared commitments, points of unity.
These points of unity include:
Political theology flourishes when it includes scholars, activists, and religious leaders using a variety of methods, trained in a variety of disciplines. We aim to draw on a variety of tools in order to offer both critical analysis and constructive proposals. We aspire to interdisciplinary work that not only meets the standards of rigor within various disciplines but speaks across those disciplines in compelling ways.
Power and the production of knowledge
As a field of study, political theology is affected by unequal distributions of power in the production of knowledge. We seek to actively redistribute political theological materials and inquiry by fostering diversity along divisions of race, religion, geography, institution, and gender. We value critical self-reflection on the conditions that structure the field of political theology and the continual reassessment of the adequacy with which this redistribution of power is implemented in our production of political theological knowledge.
Orientation toward justice
We believe scholarship in political theology, regardless of its method or disciplinary location, ought to be motivated by a desire for justice – and that necessarily means political theology scholarship must, directly or indirectly, speak to issues of public concern, engaged with a non-academic public. We aim to not only speak to various publics, but to cultivate a public of scholars, activists, and religious leaders with shared concern for liberatory politics in conversation with religious and secular traditions.