Pandemic, Care Work, and Inequities in the Study of Religion

JAAR Roundtable Call for Papers

Topics: COVID-19, Pandemic, Religion, Gender, Care Work (Labor of Care)

Editorial Team: Karen Bray, Holly Hillgardner, Sharon Jacob, Elana Jefferson-Tatum, Anne Joh, Beatrice Marovich, Erica Bryand Ramirez, Shehnaz Haqqani, Anna Blaedel

Deadline and Workshops: The original deadline was December 1, 2020; however, in recognition of the time pressures of those most intimately impacted by the crisis of care during the pandemic, the editors of this special roundtable have extended the deadline for submissions to April 1, 2021.

Additionally, given the non-traditional nature of possible submissions and how isolated many of us feel right now, we are inviting all those interested in joining any or all of three zoom workshops to help get writing going, build collaborations, or think through what types of pieces one might submit. At least one editor from our editorial team will be leading each workshop and available to answer any questions you might have. The workshops will be held over Zoom on Wednesday, January 27 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. ET; Thursday, February 11 from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. ET; and Sunday, March 7 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. ET. Workshop attendance is open to all interested in building a writing community around the issues of gender, care, and the pandemic. Attending a workshop does not commit one to submit a piece to the roundtable. Attending one of the workshops is not required for submission to the roundtable. Those interested in joining any or all of the workshops should email [email protected] for the Zoom link.

Description: This roundtable seeks to address the gender equity gap (and its intersectionality with race, immigration status, economics, etc.) in publishing that has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrea R. Jain, the editor of the JAAR, raised concerns about how this gap impacts the discipline and urged scholars of religion to reflect on possible interventions. In response, our editorial team solicits the viewpoints of academic women and racial/gender minorities who, due to the uneven burdens of care work (child care, elder and family care, colleague and student care, institution care, and social movement care), lack the time privilege to do conventional academic writing right now. Our voices are not being included in scholarly publishing venues at the same rate as our cisgendered white male counterparts. However, our voices have not been silent. We hear these voices, in this time of crisis, primarily in email exchanges, group texts, social media posts, photographs, in rallying calls and chants, and in images of protest signs. These words have significant scholarly weight: they reshape how we think about the world, and how we think about our discipline. But within the conventional framework of academic professionalization, these words—which move and influence scholarship, yet are rarely cited—do not carry scholarly weight. They should. 

Given that, our editorial team is curating an interreligious peer-reviewed collaborative roundtable for the JAAR. The roundtable will not just speak to our moment in a manner that is legible in the standard language of academic productivity and academic merit. We envision something with the transformative potential to counter these very discourses of productivity and merit. Such transformation is necessary if we are to begin (in any small way) addressing the gender and racial equity gaps in the study of religion, broadly conceived. To this end, we seek the following types of contributions:

  1. Short articles (1500–3000 words) that reflect on the state of the discipline in the time of COVID-19. These might offer historical, sociological, anthropological, biblical, theological, philosophical or theoretical perspectives (e.g., critical race theory, postcolonial theory, queer theory, etc.),  and might even provide visions for change. These should, in some way, comment on religion, broadly conceived, and the role of care work in times of pandemic.
  2. Image/text contributions that could feature photographs, or screen grabs of social media posts, text messages, emails, etc. and would be accompanied by micro-essays (250–500 words) that would place the image in conversation with the theme of the roundtable. 
  3. This roundtable will also include an annotated bibliography that will list texts that speak, from the margins of academic discourse, to the issues raised in the project (the labor of care, pandemic, and religion). This would be another way of including the voices of people who may not, presently, have the time privilege to write an article or micro-essay for the project. By including this bibliography, the editorial team also invites those scholars who may have more time privilege during the pandemic to learn from these annotated resources—in solidarity, as an intervention into gender and racial disparities. In this spirit, we are soliciting recommendations for texts to be added to the bibliography. We encourage marginalized scholars to recommend their own books or articles for this list.


April 1, 2021