08 October 2010

CONF: 2010 meeting of the American Academy of Religion

Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 30 October-1 November 2010

The increase in panels and papers accepted concerned with political theology that was to be observed at last year's AAR meeting continues this year.

First, the multi-year "Theology and the Political Consultation" will resume with a panel titled "Political Theology, Jewish, and Democratic: A Discussion of Bonnie Honig's Emergency Politics (Princeton University Press, 2009)" (A30-336, 30 October, 4.00-6.30 pm, Marriott Marquis/Marquis Ballroom C).

Description: "If Carl Schmitt offers an account of Christian political theology, what would a Jewish political theology look like? Instead of focusing on the exceptional moment, it would see every moment as exceptional. Instead of focusing on a single, transcendent sovereign, it would focus on sovereignty shared by a people and its leaders. Instead of opposing administrative discretion to juridical determinism, it would see discretion in law and determinism in administrative actions. Carl Schmitt is displaced by Franz Rosenzweig. In short, Jewish political theology is the political theology of democratic theory. These are among the claims of Bonnie Honig's Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2009). This panel will feature a critical dialogue about Honig's text. Some panelists will engage the text from a Jewish studies perspective, examining its extensive use of Rosenzweig and other Jewish sources; other panelists will engage the text as an intervention in conversations about religion and democratic theory, examining the provocative claims it makes about, for example, the political significance of miracles."

Participants: Gregory Kaplan (Rice University), presiding; Jeffrey Stout (Princeton); Nancy Levene (Indiana University); Martin Kavka (Florida State University); George Shulman (New York University); and Bonnie Honig (Northwestern University), responding

Second, the "Study of Judaism Section" and the "Critical Theory and Discourses on Religion Group" have organized a panel on "Antisemitism and Its Afterlives: Christian Studies of Judaism and the Construction of Modernity" (A31-309, 31 October, 5.00-6.30 pm, Marriott Marquis/M105).

Description: "Recent reevaluations of the secular order, for example that of Gil Anidjar, have pointed to the continuity of that order with the self-definition of Christian tradition against Judaism. Secular modernity borrowed certain of its narratives – notably, universalism and supersessionism – from Paul's definition of the Gospel as a universal dispensation of 'grace' that transcended the particularities of Jewish 'law.' Philosophers such as Jacob Taubes, Giorgio Agamben, and Alain Badiou have rediscovered the relevance of such theological categories for an understanding of the political theology of modernity. However, much historical work remains to be done to show how these categories were appropriated, altered, and sometimes inverted in the course of the self-transformation of European Christian civilization into an ostensibly secular modernity. Each of the papers on this panel contributes to filling in this genealogy, by retracing a part of the complex web of connections that connects modernity to earlier forms of Christian anti-Judaism. From Deists and their opponents in 17th-century England, to the Enlightenment philosophy of Immanuel Kant, to the 20th-century sociological project of Talcott Parsons, Judaism played a key role as the primary 'Other,' stubborn residue, and chief stumbling-block against which modernity defined itself."

Participants: Jerome Copulsky (Goucher College); Robert Yelle (University of Memphis), "Antisemitism at the Roots of Modern Ecumenicalism: The Deist Construction of 'Natural Religion' against Jewish Ritual and Revelation"; Bruce Rosenstock (University of Illinois), "Judaism and the Dialectical History of Religion: The Afterlife of Bishop Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses"; Leah Hochman (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion), "Who's the (Ugly) Stick-in-the-Mud?: Kant, Judaism, and (Beauty's) Freedom"; and Jonathan Judaken (University of Memphis), "Talcott Parsons, Ambivalent Liberalism, and the Sociology of Modern Anti-Semitism"

Third, the "Explorations in Theology and the Apocalyptic" working group offers a panel on "Aspects of the Political Theology of Johann Baptist Metz" (M31-401, 31 October, 6.30-9.00 pm, Marriott Marquis/L403).

Description: "This is the second of two sessions exploring apocalyptic themes in contemporary Christian theology."

Participants: Benjamin Myers (Charles Sturt University), presiding; Matthew Eggemeier (College of the Holy Cross), "Christianity or Nihilism?: The Apocalyptic Discourses of Johann Baptist Metz and Friedrich Nietzsche"; Jason McKinney (University of Toronto), "The Sins of the Father: Suffering, Guilt, and Redemption in Benjamin and Metz"; Christopher Craig Brittain (University of Aberdeen), "Positivity and Negativity in Political Theology: Metz and Adorno on the Nature of Apocalyptic Hope"; and Kyle Gingerich Hiebert (University of Manchester), "The Architectonics of Hope: On the Tragic Configuration of Johann Baptist Metz's New Political Theology"

Fourth, the "Theology of Martin Luther King Jr. Consultation" has put together a panel on "The Promised Land: Political Theology and Contemporary Social Movements" (A30-236, 30 October, 1.00-3.30 pm, Marriott Marquis/Marquis Ballroom B).

Participants: Hak Joon Lee (New Brunswick Theological Seminary), presiding; Lane Van Ham (University of Arizona), "Undocumented Immigration and the 'World House': Spirituality in the Immigrant Advocacy Movement"; Rosemary P. Carbine (Whittier College), "Transforming Spaces for Social Change: Prophetic Praxis in the United States Civil Rights and New Sanctuary Movements"; Karen V. Guth (University of Virginia), "Beyond Nonviolence: The Feminist/Womanist Political Theology of Martin Luther King Jr."; Frederick L. Ware (Howard University), "'Prophesy the Common Good!': The Promise and Problem of Moral Realism in the Political Theology of Martin Luther King Jr."; Rosetta E. Ross (Spelman College), responding

Fifth, "The Word Made Fresh", an annual lectureship held in conjunction with the Society of Evangelical Scholars (M29-411, 29 October, 7.00-9.00 pm, Marriott Marquis/International 6).

Description: "The Word Made Fresh [...] seeks to stimulate creative dialogue among scholars on themes reflective of evangelical Christianity".

Participants: Thomas Oord (Northwest Nazarene University), presiding; Amos Yong (Regent University), "In the Days of Caesar: Pentecostalism and Political Theology"; J. Kameron Carter (Duke University), responding; Serene Jones (Union Theological Seminary), responding; Graham Ward (University of Manchester), responding

Sixth, the "Søren Kierkegaard Society" panel on "Selfhood, Church, and Society" (M30-124, 30 October, 9.00 am-12.00 pm, Marriott Marquis/International 3) includes a paper by Robert L. Perkins (Stetson University), "Kierkegaard's Political Theology".

Seventh, the "Religion and Politics Section" panel on "Religion and Politics in Theory and Practice" (A31-105, 31 October, 9.00-11.30 am, Marriott Marquis/A706) includes a paper by John Senior (Emory University), "Tradition Reconsidered: Political Theology, Narrative, and the Formation of Political Identities".

Eight, the "Reformed Theology and History Group" panel on "Reformed Churches and Historically Marginalized People" (A30-325, 30 October, 4.00-6.30 pm, Marriott Marquis/A706) includes a paper by Matthew J. Tuininga (Emory University), "Reformulating the Two Kingdoms Paradigm: A Political Theological Approach to Racism".

The AAR annual meeting online programme (including abstracts of the papers, if provided) is available and searchable at:


Further information and registration:


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