Anthropology and Theology Conference – Australia

Call for Papers: Panel on “Anthropological Theologies” (IUAES / AAS / ASAANZ Conference 2011)

Location: Perth, Western Australia
Conference Venue: University of Western Australia
Conference Dates: 5-7 July 2011
Conference Website:
Call for Papers Deadline: 24 January 2011
This panel responds to the question recently posed by Joel Robbins (2006): ‘what is or should be the relationship between anthropology and theology?’ Recent scholarship has addressed how the emergence of the discipline of anthropology was constituted through a rejection of theology. The traces of this negation continue to haunt anthropological theories and practices. However, the expelling of the theological remains inherently incomplete. Indeed, the imagined secularity of anthropology is repeatedly transgressed by theological seepages, intransigent religious subjectivities, and uncanny fieldwork encounters. Further, theologian John Milbank (2006) has argued that anthropology and other social sciences are themselves ‘theologies or anti-theologies in disguise’ and should be analysed as such. There is a need, therefore, to critically interrogate the (anti-)theologies of anthropology.
In this inquiry we are interested in exploring disciplinary intersections, reassessing anthropological theory and practice, and questioning the effects of the embrace and/or rejection of particular religiosities. Engagement with a diverse range of theologies (Christian, Islamic, agnostic, etc.) is encouraged. Accordingly, papers are invited to explore the following concerns:

The ways in which the secular and the religious continue to inhere in each other within the discipline of anthropology;
Genealogies of anthropology/theology;
Anthropological critiques of theology and theological critiques of anthropology;
Reappraisal of the mantra of ‘methodological agnosticism’ with its implicit assumption of (superior) neutrality;
Analysis of fieldwork encounters which challenge, rework and/or reinforce ‘secular’ anthropological subjectivities;
Discussion of ‘spirited’ classroom exchanges and writing practices;
Biographies of anthropologists which illuminate how their (a)theological dispositions informed their theorisations;
Negotiations between the hermeneutics of suspicion and hermeneutics of inspiration.

Abstracts are to be a maximum of 250 words and should be sent directly to the co-convenors of the panel. Our contact details are as follows:

Philip Fountain, Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University

Sin Wen Lau, Asian Studies, University of Sydney