We are in the process of determining the status of all our 2020 Annual Meeting workshops. We will update this page with new information as it becomes available.

You must pre-register for these workshops. If you have already registered, you can go back into your confirmation record and MODIFY your registration to add a workshop. If a workshop is sold out, click the box that will add you to the waitlist. We will contact you if a seat opens up.


Motherhood and Religion Workshop

A Comparative, Interdisciplinary, Matricentric, Feminist Approach

Friday, November 20, 1:00 PM-5:00 PM

The intersection of motherhood and religion remains rarely studied even within research on gender in religious studies. Yet, under the influence of matricentric feminism, topics on motherhood and mothering (as institution and experience) or parenting are being brought to the foreground in religious studies and in theology, with references to contemporary maternal theory and recent developments in motherhood studies. This workshop will offer participants the opportunity to discuss their on-going work and to network with other researchers in religious studies or theology who focus on common research themes such as alternative forms of motherhood and mothering in religion, divine and human mothers, or (non-religious) feminist perspectives that consider both the patriarchal institution of motherhood and religion as oppressive. Designed from a comparative and interdisciplinary approach, this workshop will also give an opportunity for networking to scholars, including emerging researchers, specializing in a variety of religious contexts and using different methodologies.


Pascale Engelmajer, Carrol University, and Florence Pasche Guignard, Universite Laval

Oliver Freiberger, University of Texas
Margaret Kamitsuka, Oberlin College

Pandemic Ritual Workshop

Friday, November 20, 1:30 PM-5:30 PM

This workshop will be concerned with rituals or ritualized practices linked with the Covid 19 pandemic and lockdown. Some new ritual practices, such as the daily 8 o’clock PM applause for health workers in France, are easy to identify. Others, consisting in subtle yet systematic shifts in behavior that reconfigure social relations (disinfecting, handwashing, masking, social distancing, the accelerated circulation of jokes and videos on the Internet, etc.), or in new forms of collective interaction (“virtual” classes or meetings), are more difficult to pin down. One of the theoretical issues raised by these new practices has to do with the differences that are worth making (or not) between habits and rituals, and more generally, between ceremonial performance and equally conventional everyday activity. How can taking these recently introduced Covid 19 related practices into consideration shed light on these questions and others? Panelists will provide detailed accounts of such practices from their own observations and self-observations, and offer speculative interpretations. All participants will be expected to contribute material of their own and to get involved in discussions.

Sarah M. Pike, California State University, Chico, and Michael Houseman, École Pratique des Hautes Études

Ronald Grimes, Wilfird Laurier University
Barry Stephenson, Memorial University
Marika Moisseeff, The French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)/Laboratoire d'anthropologie sociale, Université Paris Sciences & Lettres
Tyson Herberger, Inland Norway University

Theology and Ethnography Workshop

Turning the Lived into Text – Theology, Ethnography and Writing

Friday, November 20, 1:00 PM-5:00 PM

The Ecclesial practices group invites to a workshop on theology and ethnography. The focus this year is on writing theological ethnography. How do we turn the lived into written texts? Participants will be introduced to different genres of theological writing and hear how some scholars have dealt with the practice of writing. We will also do some practical writing assignments together.


Jonas Ideström, University College Stockholm

Presenters and Table Hosts:
Traci West, Drew University
Pamela D. Couture, University of Toronto
Jaisy Joseph, Seattle University
Marla Frederick, Emory University
Mark Jordan, Harvard University
Todd Whitmore, University of Notre Dame 
Natalie Wigg-Stevenson, Emmanuel College of Victoria University
Jonas Ideström, University College Stockholm

Comparative Hagiology Workshop

Teaching Hagiography in a New Way

Friday, November 20, 1:00 PM-5:00 PM

The workshop will function as a way to explore ways in which a comparative and collaborative approach to studying “hagiography,” or perhaps more accurately, “hagiology,” can be brought to the classroom. The workshop thus builds on past AAR pre-conference Comparative Hagiology workshops, which focused primarily on (re)defining a theory and method for the study of hagiographic sources in a comparative and cross-cultural perspective. Moreover, while theorizing and writing about hagiology is valuable, teaching forms the backbone of the duties of many scholars of religion. To that end, this workshop asks, among other questions: 1) what is the value of teaching the comparative study of religious life writings in a global perspective; 2) how may this be done comparatively, and to what benefit; and 3) how do we make the material, theories, and methods of collaboration and comparison that engage students of all levels using culturally relevant pedagogy?

Nikolas Hoel, Northern Illinois University

Religion and Media Workshop

Ecology, Religion, and Media

Friday, November 20, 11:00 AM -6:00 PM

From devastating hurricanes to near-apocalyptic wildfires, we undoubtedly live in an environmentally precarious time. We are, however, not passive recipients of the world around us but co-creators of our diverse contexts. Given the fragility of our shared planet, scholars are acutely aware of how important it is to theorize and act now. This day long workshop seeks to investigate and interrogate the relationship between built ecology, built environments, and religious belonging by attending to relationships among religion, media and ecology. Rather than traditional paper presentations we will utilize shared readings, conversation, and invited speakers to question the roles of high-tech capitalism, race, gender, and justice in understanding how media and ecology shape religious worlds and practices. We will interrogate media as ecology, media and ecology, religion as media and religion as ecology as primary to the diversity of approaches and voices in this urgent conversation.


John Borchert, Syracuse University

Natalies Avalos, University of Colorado
Amy Den Ouden, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Pamela Klassen, University of Toronto
Sarah McFarland Taylor, Northwestern University

American Association for the Advancement of Science / Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Workshop

Pedagogies of Climate Change

Friday, November 20, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM

This workshop, hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), will offer participants a unique opportunity to visit the Marine Science Center of Northeastern University and engage in discussions of theological pedagogies of climate change. Participants will: 1) experience a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the facility led by a Northeastern scientist; 2) listen to two theological educators share best practices for incorporating climate science into the religious studies/theology classroom; 3) hear reflections of Northeastern scientists on their research; and 4) have an opportunity to engage the educators, scientists, and one another in discussion. This afternoon will focus not only on discussions of climate change, but also on the needs of students from diverse faiths, cultures, and socioeconomic status. Lunch and transportation included. Dress for walking outside!


Laurel Schneider, Vanderbilt University


Curtis Baxter, American Association for the Advancement of Science 
John Slattery, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Centers for Religion and Public Life Workshop

Continuing Collaborations

Friday, November 20, 2:00 PM-5:00 PM

This annual gathering of leaders and members of our global network of centers working, in some capacity, on religion and public life seeks to find common cause, share best practices (and pitfalls), and discuss the future of our work and build strategic collaborations. The meeting is open to everyone who is involved in the leadership, management or support of one of these centers.

Andrew Davies, University of Birmingham

Public Scholarship and Practical Impacts Workshop

Media Training and Work outside the Academy

Friday, November 20, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Join the Applied Religious Studies Committee for this one-day workshop that will empower scholars of religion to communicate about their work in the public sphere. During the morning, Auburn Media will lead a training on working with the media, using a tested methodology that has helped many AAR members engage with the media and contribute to public understanding of religion. The afternoon will begin with a panel conversation about the ways that several scholars of religion are engaging with the general public, emphasizing social impact. Finally, panelists will join registrants in small groups to discuss registrants’ current projects. This workshop is designed for those seeking basic, professional training on reaching general audiences through various media. We will pay particular attention to challenges faced by scholars off the tenure track and outside the academy who are committed to communicating about the relevance of religious studies scholarship to interdisciplinary and general audiences.


Cristine Hutchison-Jones, Harvard University

Brad Braxton, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Lauren Taylor, Harvard University
Vanessa Zoltan, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast

Ecology, Economy, and Christianity Workshop

Liberating People and the Planet: Christian Responses at the Nexus of Ecology and Economics

Friday, November 20, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM

The present day is a period of extreme economic insecurity for most of humankind and extreme environmental devastation across the ecosphere. For centuries, Christianity has contributed to the development of these dual realities. Yet although the relationships between Christianity and the environment (on the one hand) and between Christianity and the economy (on the other) have been ongoing concerns within Christian theological studies, rarely are the two thought about together, in an integrative fashion. In the first half of the workshop, participants will hear several brief presentations of new scholarship on Christian responses to economic domination and environmental degradation. Then, in the second half, participants will divide into small groups based on shared research interest to discuss current or possible future research projects. The concluding plenary will tie the day’s threads together and explore how to further foster collaborations that can incite and support transforming Christianity in solidarity with the whole planet.

Jeremy Posadas, Austin College
Joerg Rieger, Vanderbilt University

Material and Visual Cultures of Religion Workshop

Pedagogies of Science from COVID-19 to Climate Change

Friday, November 20, 10:00 AM–4:00 PM
No cost

This workshop, hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), will offer participants a unique opportunity to visit the Boston Museum of Science and engage in discussions of theological pedagogies of modern science, from COVID-19 to climate change. Participants will: (1) experience a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the facility; (2) take part in and discuss a pedagogical workshop designed by the museum staff on religion and science; (3) listen to theological educators share best practices for incorporating science into the religion/theology classroom; and (4) have an opportunity to engage the educators, scientists, and one another in discussion. This workshop will focus not only on discussions of climate change but also on the needs of students from diverse faiths, cultures, and socioeconomic status. Lunch and snacks are included for free! You must register to attend.