“El milagro de San Toribio Romo,” by María Palacios. Photo by Consuelo Velasco Montoya
Call for Proposals
Claremont Graduate University and the
Red de Investigadores del Fenómeno Religioso en México
(Network of Religion Researchers in Mexico)
Invite thematic papers session proposals for the Twentieth Annual Meeting of Rifrem to be held, May 31, June 1 and 2, 2017 at Claremont Graduate University (Claremont, California, USA):
Religion and migration in greater Mexico
The long-held expectation for religion’s eclipse in the shadow of an encroaching and totalizing secularized modernity has faltered in the face of the phenomenon’s resiliency and diversification. In the case of Mexico, resilient and renewed indigenous religious traditions, resilient and new cults of saints, an expanded pluralism (including growing rates of non-Catholic and non-religious adscription), and perennial, new, and intensified public protagonism over definitions of marriage and the family continue to invite focused and comparative scholarly research in a country that is comprised of 32 federated entities, many distinct regions, that registers 62 spoken indigenous languages, and that has a complicated history of Church-State relations. Scholars are challenged to precisely analyze moving targets of popular religiosity in variegated social, economic, political, ethnic, and geographical contexts.
The premier forum for scholarly exchange concerning these and other topics has been the annual meetings of the Red de Investigadores del Fenómeno Religioso en México – RIFREM (Network of Religion Researchers of Mexico). Over the course of the past two decades, members of this flagship association have produced an impressive body of scholarship in monographs, edited books, journal articles, documentaries, etc. They have also served as expert interlocutors for determining methodologies and categories in the federal Census, and have produced the most authoritative surveys of religion in Mexico. Given Mexico’s proximity to the United States, Central America, and the imbrication of religious, ethnic, and migratory phenomena, RIFREM scholars have also studied religious phenomena in “greater” Mexico (México de Afuera), examining the transnational dimensions of religious practice and identity in old and new circuits of labor migration, among Central American migrants, and within indigenous communities of origin, settlement, and return. The geographical dispersion has occurred in tandem with a growing awareness of the contingency of established analytical rubrics and categories imported from the global North; thus, RIFREM has also served as a productive site for the re-thinking of theoretical and methodological questions in transnational contexts.
Claremont Graduate University is pleased to announce that it will serve as the host of the Red de Investigadores del Fenómeno Religioso en México’s Twentieth Annual Meeting, to be held May 31 through June 2, 2017, on CGU’s Claremont, California campus (forty miles east of Los Angeles, the second largest city of Mexican-origin population). This historic gathering in southern California represents a valuable opportunity for continued scholarly exchange between scholarly guilds in both countries and elsewhere in Latin America. (In 2006, RIFREM celebrated its tenth annual meeting at Arizona State University.) It also marks CGU’s institutional shift in the direction of research and teaching in Latino and Latin American religions.
Religion and Migration in Greater Mexico
This fortuitous institutional and scholarly convergence suggests an organizing theme for RIFREM’s Twentieth Annual Meeting: Religion and Migration in Greater Mexico. Indeed, as noted, the theme reflects ongoing scholarly interest within RIFREM in, for example, the transnational growth and agency of such religious minorities as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Pentecostals, and in indigenous communities’ transnational activism against neoliberal processes and their defense of traditional ways (usos y costumbres). Importantly, the theme affords an opportunity for a ninety-year critical retrospective on the uneven fate of the religion variable in migration studies. Notably, the foundational study (1926-1929) undertaken by anthropologist Manuel Gamio, queried deeply the question of religious practice and belief among Mexican immigrants in the United States. The Life Story of the Mexican Immigrant (University of Chicago, 1931) wove the religion thread throughout the myriad histories of the study’s subjects, while the more analytical volume, Mexican Immigration to the United States (University of Chicago, 1930) included a chapter on religion. The variable also captured the attention of Gamio translator and collaborator Robert Redfield. Similarly, the incipient field of sociology at the University of Southern California sought to map the religious field of Mexican Los Angeles; the several theses overseen by Emory Bogardus even managed to capture traces of an emerging Pentecostalism. The religion variable’s eclipse in subsequent scholarship on Mexican migration is understandable in light of prevailing disciplinary constraints and ideological assumptions in early Chicano/Latino Studies. The last decade of research, however, has cast new light on the intersection of religion and migration, drawing attention to the persistence and portability of religious identities and practices among migrating populations and migration-tied communities. To take just one example, the axis that runs from Oaxaca state’s Tehuantepec Isthmus through Mexico City to western Sinaloa and northwestern Baja California states and from there to California and Oregon represents an identifiable corridor of new labor migration (since 1960), “Oaxacalifornia”, whose geographic and chronological parameters (versus the more diffuse migration and settlement patterns of earlier Mexican migration waves) present opportunities for manageable and focused research on religion and migration. The study of religious transnationalism can assess, among other things: the influence of technology and media; the catalytic and reinforcing role of monetary and symbolic (religious) remittances and the agency of migrants in communities of origin; the relative weight of missionary strategies vs. migrant tactics; power relations between transnationally tied congregations; and the potential of U.S. Latino congregations and parishes to serve as alternative public squares for a population that has been increasingly criminalized and pushed out of the public arena and public institutions of the U.S., and, alternatively, to serve as incubators of social and political leadership to be leveraged and exercised in communities of origin in Mexico. Clearly, religion continues to matter in “greater” Mexico, in the borderlands, and in the alternative public spaces shaped and inhabited by subaltern actors, spaces within which they articulate notions of cultural citizenship. Indeed, recent historical scholarship has illumined this, demonstrating the longstanding force and impact of Mexican religious actors, history, and developments on Mexican American communities during the long course of the twentieth century (e.g., exilic Cristero prelates and priests in San Antonio and Los Angeles; transnational Protestant ministers; Pentecostal borderlands solidarity and culture; cooperative episcopal structures, Chicano and Central American appropriations of Mesoamerican motifs, and, of course, intra-ethnic tensions). According to recent surveys, 23% of U.S. church-goers are Roman Catholic; Latinos constitute 40% of Catholics, and are highly represented within the Charismatic Renewal. Of the 153 million (52%) Protestants in the U.S., 7% (10 million) are Latinos, with Puerto Rican and Central American-origin populations demonstrating significantly higher Pentecostal rates than Mexican-origin ones.
Call for Thematic Papers Sessions
The meeting organizers invite proposals for thematic papers sessions (around the organizing theme and other themes), which will then form the basis for a subsequent call for individual papers. The following list of possible topics is not an exhaustive one, and may be considered in comparative focus. The Organizing Committee will welcome, of course, topics in the general and broad study of the religious phenomenon.
- National and Ethnic Identity and Religion
- Religion, Migration and Transnationalism
- Religion and the Borderlands
- Religion and Neoliberalism
- Religion and the Environment
- Religion and Fine Arts
- Religion, Film and Theatre
- Religion and Gender
- Religion and Queer, Intersexual and Trans Identities
- Virtual Religion and Millenials
- Religion and Sex
- Religion and Violence
- Theoretical and Methodological Issues in Religious Social Scientific Research
- Theology and Religious Studies: Comparative Institutional Configurations
- Church-State Relations and Tensions
- Musical and Sonic Dimensions in Religion
- New Binational Religious Movements
- Indigenous Religious Practices
- Comparative Guadalupanismos
- Pachuco, Cholo, and Chicana Religious Expressions
- Chicana/o and Centroamericana/o Mesoamerican Appropriations
- Central American Religious Identities
- Cults of Saints and Diasporic Communities
- Conversion and Apostasy
- Xenophobia, Repatriation, and Religion
- Liturgical, Musical and Ritual Practices
- Conversos and Messianism
- Muslim Identities
- Thaumaturgical Practices
- Congregational Studies
- Spanish-Mexican Borderlands: From Bolton to Anzaldúa
- Protestant Quincentenary
- “Made in the U.S.A.” Religions (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Adventists, Pentecostals)
- “Made in Mexico” Religions (Luz del Mundo, Buen Pastor)
Proposals for Thematic Papers Sessions should include
1) Proposed Title
2) Name of proposer/organizer
5) Description: Should include the theoretical basis and implications for the proposal and be no longer than one-half page.
Proposals should be sent firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: The meeting logistics may allow for several consecutive time slots for a thematic papers session, depending on the number of individual paper proposals accepted. The format of the sessions will include papers delivered in Spanish and English (or bilingual).
The date for receipt of thematic panels/sessions proposals is November 21, 2016. Whereupon the local organizing committee and the RIFREM steering committee will select the thematic papers sessions for the Twentieth Meeting, choosing sessions that reflect the conference organizing theme as well as other themes of interest to the academic community. These will serve to establish the contours of a subsequent (second) Call for Proposals for individual papers, to be issued on November 28, 2016. The due date for the individual papers is December 21, 2016. The Organizing Committee will expedite official acceptances of the thematic papers sessions and individual papers, in order to allow participants sufficient time to secure U.S. travel visas.
Conference Site, Accommodations, Travel, etc.
Claremont Graduate University is a member of the Claremont Colleges Consortium, a cluster of five undergraduate colleges and several graduate ones, including a seminary, the Claremont School of Theology. CGU’s School of Arts and Humanities houses the University’s Religion Department, a unit with strengths in the areas of Philosophy, Theology, Biblical Studies, History, Women’s Studies, American Religion, Mormon Studies, and a new focus on Latino and Latin American Religions.
The City of Claremont is nestled beneath the San Gabriel mountain range and adjoins several suburban cities in eastern Los Angeles and western San Bernardino counties (Pomona, La Verne, San Dimas, Ontario, Upland, Montclair, and Rancho Cucamonga). The area counts a considerable number of hotels with several levels of accommodations, and is served by the nearby Ontario International Airport. Other regional airports include Los Angeles International Airport, Burbank International Airport, John Wayne Airport (Orange County), and San Diego International Airport. Attendees can also travel within Mexico to the Tijuana International Airport in order to cross over into the United States; whereupon they can travel by rail or bus to Claremont (generally via Los Angeles). The organizers will provide detailed travel, lodging, and other information, as this becomes available.
For further information, please contact Haley Thomas (email@example.com) or Daniel Ramírez (firstname.lastname@example.org).