2020 Annual Meeting

Your AAR staff continues to work toward holding the Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov. 21-24, 2020. We are aware of the uncertainty and contradictory projections related to the COVID-19 pandemic and with health and safety as a priority, we will continue monitoring the guidance of governments and health experts as we plan and make decisions. Should any changes need to be made related to the 2020 Annual Meeting, we will promptly notify you.

2020 Regional Meetings

Open Registration:

All remaining regional meetings for 2020 have been canceled

Member Notes

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Awards and Accomplishments

Rob Campany, Vanderbilt University

Rob Campany (Vanderbilt University) has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. He will use the year of research leave to write a book about the role of dreams and dreaming in the lives and practices of religious self-cultivators in late classical and medieval China.

Delvyn Case, Wheaton College Massachusetts

Founded Deus Ex Musica, an ecumenical organization that brings together musicians, pastors, scholars, and laypeople to promote music as a resource for learning and spiritual growth. DEM includes a commissioning project, performing ensemble, research intitative, record label, edited blog, podcast, and record label. Its first live event, held in June 2019, featured world premieres of psalm settings by prominent and emerging composers representing a variety of Christian traditions, presented as as a springboard for ecumenical conversation about Scripture.

Pankaj Jain, UNT

Professor Pankaj Jain and Jainism were included in an episode of "The Story of God with Morgan Freeman." It can be viewed on Netflix here.

Maria Turek, University of Toronto

Maria Turek was awarded the 2020 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowship in Buddhist Studies. Her project "Re-Imagining the Buddhist Kingdom of Nangchen” places contemporary local and diasporic discourses around the historical Tibetan kingdom of Nangchen (1300-1951) in its center to ask how today, mnemonic practices and the revival of traditional historiography contribute to the global re-imaginings of Nangchen as a Buddhist society. This research highlights the moral and metaphysical aspects of remembering through which a local historical identity is re-imagined in global context. 

Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan, Austin College

Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan was awarded the American Council of Learned Societies Professional Development grant for her book project: Resisting Normativity: Overcoming Suffering and Building Traditions in the Gelongma Palmo-Avalokitshvara Buddhist Legacy.

Steven Vose, Florida International University

Steven Vose won the American Institute of Indian Studies' Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr. Book Prize in the Indian Humanities for his forthcoming book, Reimagining Jainism in Islamic India: Jain Intellectual Culture in the Delhi Sultanate. The book will be out this fall on Routledge Press.

Books and Major Publications

Kate Ott and Darryl W. Stephens, Lancaster Theological Seminary & Drew University

Teaching Sexuality and Religion in Higher Education: Embodied Learning, Trauma Sensitive Pedagogy, and Perspective Transformation, Routledge 2020. Combining insights from secular sexuality education, trauma studies, and embodiment this volume offers a deeply grounded approach to teaching sexuality and religion in colleges, universities, and seminaries. Jewish, Muslim, and Christian contributors present pedagogy and classroom strategies appropriate for secular and religious institutional contexts. The Routledge Research in Religion and Education series aims at advancing public understanding and dialogue on issues at the intersections of religion and education.

Raj Balkaran, University of Toronto

The Goddess and the Sun in Indian Myth, Routledge, 2020. In analyzing the parallels between myths glorifying the Indian Great Goddess, Durgā, and those glorifying the Sun, Sūryafound in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, this book argues for an ideological ecosystem at work in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa privileging worldly values, of which Indian kings, the Goddess (Devī), the Sun (Sūrya), Manu and Mārkaṇḍeya himself are paragons.

Gail Cafferata, Boston University School of Theology (Visiting Researcher)

The Last Pastor: Faithfully Steering a Closing ChurchWestminister John Knox, 2020. A medical sociologist before ordination as an Episcopal priest, Cafferata wondered whether other pastors shared her experience of leading a church toward its closure, and the millions of questions that it raised about her call, leadership and future. This led her to conduct a sociological study of over 130 pastors in five historically established denominations (Episcopal, Lutheran, United Methodist, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ) who were called to serve churches that closed. This book shares the results of that study and the hard-won lessons learned by these courageous pastors.

Anya Foxen, California Polytechnic State University, SLO

Inhaling Spirit: Harmonialism, Orientalism, and the Western Roots of Modern Yoga, Oxford University Press, 2020. Recent scholarship has shown that modern postural yoga is the outcome of a complex process of transcultural exchange and syncretism. This book doubles down on those claims and digs even deeper, looking to uncover the disparate but entangled roots of modern yoga practice.

Frances Garrett, University of Toronto

The Circled Square: Buddhist Studies in Higher Education is a new podcast produced and released from the University of Toronto's team at the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies. We explore practices of effective teaching and learning about Buddhism by interviewing professors from various disciplines, and we're hoping to cultivate deep conversations about teaching and Buddhist Studies. You can find the first season online now at or from the usual podcast sources.

Steven R. Harmon, Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity

Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology (Perspectives on Baptist Identities, vol. 3, co-edited with Amy L. Chilton, Mercer University Press, 2020.  Harmon and Chilton lead a diverse group of twenty-three Baptist theologians in a collaborative envisioning of how Baptist congregations might draw on the resources of the whole church more intentionally in their practice of theology. These resources include theologies that attend to the social locations of followers of Jesus Christ as well as various expresions of ecclesial efforts to bring their life together under the rule of Christ.

Pankaj Jain, UNT

Podcast interview based on the book Dharma in America: A Short History of Hindu-Jain Diaspora. The podcast can be listened to here.


Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Fuller Theological Seminary and University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology

Doing the Work of Comparative Theology: A Primer for ChristiansEerdmans, 2020. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen introduces the nature and work of comparative theology, then delves into a detailed doctrine-by-doctrine comparison of Christian teachings with those of historical and contemporary Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. With every doctrine, he first presents a summary of consensual Christian belief and then orients the reader to the distinctive teachings of other faith traditions, highlighting parallels and differences.

Evan Kuehn, North Park University

Troeltsch's Eschatological Absolute, Oxford University Press, 2020. Evan Kuehn demonstrates that historiographical assumptions about twentieth-century religious thought have obscured the coherence and relevance of Troeltsch's understanding of God, history, and eschatology. An eschatological understanding of the Absolute, Kuehn contends, stands at the heart of Troeltsch's theology and the problem of historicism with which it is faced. Troeltsch's eschatological Absolute must be understood in the context of questions that were being raised at the turn of the twentieth century both by research on New Testament apocalypticism, and by modern critical methodologies in the historical sciences. 

Michael Oliver, University of Oxford

Deconstructing Undecidability: Derrida, Justice, and Religious Discourse, Rowman & Littlefield, 2020. Advancing current readings of the deconstructive work of Jacques Derrida, Deconstructing Undecidability critically explores the problematic nature of decision, including the inherent exclusivity that accompanies any decision. In discourses where a pursuit of justice or liberation from systemic oppression is a primary concern, Michael Oliver argues for an appreciation of the inescapability of making limited, difficult decisions for particular forms of justice.

Hussein Rashid, Independent Scholar

No Normal: Ms. Marvel's America, co-edited with Jessica Baldanzi, University Press of Mississippi, 2020. This volume brings together scholars from a range of disciplines including literature, cultural studies, religious studies, pedagogy, and communications to engage with a single character, exploring Khan’s significance for a broad readership. An editors' conversation is also available.

Vaughan Roberts, Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, UK

Kingdom Stories: Telling, Leading, DiscerningSCM Press, 202. Foreword by Dr Christopher Cocksworth (Bishop of Coventry, UK) and afterword by Christopher Herbert (Professor of Christian Ethics, University of Surrey). It develops ideas from Leading by Story: Rethinking Church Leadership (SCM 2017) co-authored with Professor David Sims. Elaine Graham Professor of Practical Theology, University of Chester writes, "Vaughan Roberts invites his readers to participate in the storied nature of living. His book points us towards pathways for sharing our stories, making meaning from that shared telling, and discerning from that the signs of God's redemptive actions."

Brooke Schedneck, Rhodes College

Buddhist Tourism in Asia, co-edited with Courtney Bruntz, University of Hawaii Press, 2020. This innovative collaborative work—the first to focus on Buddhist tourism—explores how Buddhists, government organizations, business corporations, and individuals in Asia participate in re-imaginings of Buddhism through tourism. Contributors from religious studies, anthropology, and art history examine sacred places and religious monuments as they have been shaped and reshaped by socioeconomic and cultural trends in the region. 

Melissa M. Wilcox, University of California, Riverside

Queer Religiosities: An Introduction to Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion, Rowman & Littlefield, 2020. Queer Religiosities is the first comprehensive, comparative, and globally focused introduction to queer and transgender studies in religion. Addressing sophisticated topics in clear and accessible language, award-winning teacher and scholar Melissa M. Wilcox brings her engaging lecture style into conversation with the work of scholars around the globe to welcome students into these rapidly growing fields.