2021 Call for Papers
Global and Comparative Perspectives on Religion

October 22-24, 2021 | Hilton Portland Downtown Hotel, Portland, Oregon USA

Following on the 2019 SSSR strategic plan and recent world events including the Covid-19 pandemic and the mobilization around racism and state-sanctioned violence in many countries around the world, this year’s call for papers invites scholars to think about the global nature of religion and its implications for their research. Religion has always been global— religious communities, traditions, beliefs, and ideas move, shift, and interact with one another around the globe. How does the global nature of religion shape and impact its local manifestations, including religious institutions, leaders and members, lived religion, social movements, religion, culture, politics etc.? How does the power and the resources of religious institutions and religious communities in “core” countries influence religions, social institutions and inequalities in other parts of the world? How does large scale international migration and the transnational involvements of immigrants affect religion in receiving and sending countries?  And in this current moment, what role do religion and religious institutions play during a global pandemic and civil unrest that cuts across borders?

We also encourage studies that examine religion in a comparative framework across religious traditions. Does the social scientific study of religion rest on paradigms and frameworks that better fit some types of religion (e.g., White Christianity) than others? How does examining religion from a comparative perspective spur us to rethink the categories and assumptions of religion that we may have been working with?

We particularly solicit papers and panels that address the global nature of religion or approach religion from a comparative perspective, but proposals on any topic in the scientific study of religion are also welcome.    

Submissions Open: February 15, 2021

Submissions Close: April 15, 2021

Decision Notification: June 15, 2021

Please submit individual papers, panels, and author-meets-critics proposals through the online portal at www.sssreligion.org, choosing the SSSR option on the submission form.

Please direct all inquiries to the SSSR 2021 Program Chairs: Andrea K. Henderson (Department of Sociology, University of South Carolina) and Aida I. Ramos (Department of Social Work, Sociology, and Criminal Justice, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor) at program@sssreligion.org

Submit Your Proposal

Submit an Individual Paper Proposal      Submit a Session Proposal      Submit an Author Meets Critics Proposal


Since the annual conference is one of the most prominent and important elements of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association, decisions to modify the conference are never undertaken lightly. We weighed the survey data, our understanding of the current health situation, and a variety of other factors. What we have decided to do is to change the working assumption about the conference. Let us explain . . .

Since the founding of SSSR and RRA, the working assumption for the SSSR/RRA conference is that it would be in-person. In-person conferences are a big part of the SSSR/RRA experience and many if not most of us love the conferences. For this year and this year alone, Council decided to invert the assumption about the modality of the conference. We are going to move forward under the assumption that there will, at a minimum, be a virtual conference. However, Council has tabled a definitive decision on the modality of the conference pending further data and developments with the pandemic.

We want to be as open and transparent as possible with this decision. To that end, we want to share some of the data upon which we based our decision and explain the logic a little more.

A total of 464 individuals completed our short survey. The membership is divided over an in-person or virtual conference; 44% indicated they were likely or extremely likely to attend an in-person conference while 56% were unlikely or extremely unlikely to do so. The numbers were pretty different for a virtual conference: 66% were likely or extremely likely to participate in a virtual conference while 34% were unlikely or extremely unlikely to do so. Finally, 28% of the respondents indicated they have no travel funds and 12% indicated their travel funds had been reduced. Smaller numbers indicated their travel funds were unaffected by the pandemic (16%) or that their travel funds had been reinstated (6%). Additionally, 26% of respondents are still unsure whether they will have travel funds or not (this uncertainty weighed heavily in our decision to wait to make a final decision).

The logic behind our decision is fairly straightforward. Regardless of what happens with the pandemic, we know we can stage a virtual conference. We don't know, because of the pandemic, whether we can have an in-person conference, even though that is what we'd like to do. Thus, we are going to work toward the virtual conference and, if the situation changes over the next months, we have the ability to decide to switch to an in-person conference.

What might lead us to change to an in-person conference? If the vaccine rollout is highly successful and the vaccines appear to provide a robust defense against serious cases of COVID-19, that would change the climate for travel. If the economic situation improves substantially and the uncertainty about travel funds many individuals are currently facing results in restored travel funds, that could change Council's decision.

We also want to let you know that paper and session proposals will be opened on February 15th, and when you submit your proposal you will have an opportunity to indicate the format of the conference in which you would be willing to participate. In other words, you will be able to indicate whether you will: (a) only give your presentation in person, (b) only give your presentation virtually, or (c) will give your presentation regardless of the format of the conference.

We hope SSSR/RRA members are understanding of this situation and recognize that we are doing our best to make decisions with limited information and in uncertain times. We can provide at least some certainty, however - **there will be a fall SSSR/RRA conferenceAt a minimum, it will be a carefully designed and developed virtual conference.** We know that for sure. Whether we can switch to an in-person conference or not is a decision Council will make later.


Prema Kurien, SSSR President

Melinda Denton, RRA President


The annual meeting will include paper sessions, author meets critics panels, and roundtable sessions. Paper sessions comprise three to four papers and may be proposed as a complete session. Individual paper proposals are built into sessions by the program chairs. Author meets critics panels include the author(s) of a recent book and three to four panelists. Roundtable sessions may be submitted as individual papers or as a complete session.

When submitting your annual meeting proposal, you will need to indicate your preference of format for your paper or session. You will choose from the following options:

Meeting Room: three or four presentations given in a meeting room with seating for thirty people, a projector, and screen.

Roundtable: three presentations given around an eight-to-ten-person table, allowing for in-depth discussions of research.

No Preference: your presentation would work just as well in a meeting room or roundtable format.