Registration now open
April 27 and 28, 2017

Enabling Constraints:
A Symposium on the Demands of Frameworks and Data in the Study of Religion

Department for the Study of Religion
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Keynote Lectures by

Dr. Winnifred Sullivan, Indiana University Bloomington

Dr. John Marshall, University of Toronto

The study of religion operates in a tension between the demands of its frameworks and the demands its data. Scholars of religion construct their object of study within the bounds of inherited disciplinary and methodological frameworks, while the distinct contours of data — experienced in the field or the archive — shape our contributions to the discipline. The successful integration of framework and data reveals essential elements and critical questions about our object of study. But it also to hides curiosities in our data, and potential alternative inquiries.

In 2017, the Graduate Students’ Association at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion is dedicating its annual Symposium to the centrality of this tension to the practice of the study of religion. As enabling constraints, frameworks (historical, sociological, philosophical, anthropological, legal, affectual, environmental, etc.) are the grounds for both creativity and examination. The Symposium invites participants to examine the advantages of these bounded frames and archives, to experiment with categorical deviance, and to explore the constructive possibilities of interdisciplinary practice and vocabulary. Enabling Constraints will be an opportunity for graduate students to present such examination, experiments, and explorations specific to their work. This conference will encourage reflection and reflexivity about what it is to study religion, and how we do it. Accepted proposals will demonstrate conscious engagement with these meta-discussions.

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DAY 1: Thursday, April 27

9:30 am – 10:00 am


10:00 am – 10:15 am

Opening Words and Welcome

10:15 am – 12:00 am

Panel 1

Chair: Edward Escalon, University of Toronto
Faculty Discussant: Amira Mittermaier, University of Toronto

Religious Freedom and the Law: Perspectives from Maya Land in Southern Belize
Samane Hemmat, York University
“This is My Story, This is My Song”: Lyrics and Testimonies as Ethnographic Interlocutors
Keven Lewis, Middle Tennessee State University
Not my Islamo-racism: Beyond the Brown Oriental Subject Imaginary
Nadiya Ali, York University
Hawa Y. Mire, York University
Lucy El-Sherif, Ontario Institute for Studies in Technology, University of Toronto

12:00 pm –1:15 pm


1:15 pm – 3:00 pm

Panel 2

Chair: Sean Capener, University of Toronto
Faculty Respondent: Pamela Klassen, University of Toronto

Locating Disability and Religion
Dale Spicer, University of Indiana Bloomington
The Case of Devoted Bears
Annie Heckman, University of Toronto
Social Inquiry on the Brink
Galen Watts, Queen’s University

3:00 pm – 3:10 pm


3:10 pm – 4:45 pm

Keynote Address
We Don’t Know What They Want to Know: Expert-witnessing in a Secular Age
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, University of Indiana Bloomington

DAY 2: Friday, April 28

9:00 am – 9:30 am

Light breakfast

9:30 am – 11:05 am

Keynote Address
From This Place: Thoughts on Studying Religion in the Light of the TRC report
John W. Marshall, University of Toronto

11:05 am – 11:15 am


11:15 am – 12:35 pm

Panel 3

Chair: Joud Al Korani, University of Toronto

Finding Faith: A Methodological Analysis of Modes of Categorization in the Vatican Secret Archives
Francesco Morriello, Harvard University
A Preferential Option for the Structurally Violated: Mapping the Enabling Constraints of Chicago’s Catholic Experiment in Panama
Jennifer A. Callaghan, Northwestern University

12:35 pm – 1:15 pm


1:15 pm – 3:00 pm

Panel 4

Chair: Roxanne Korpan, University of Toronto

An Uneasy Alliance: The Relationship Between National Socialism and Christianity
Patrick Stange, University of Toronto
The Role of Genesis in Claims for Equality and Superiority of Women
Celia Edell, McGill University
‘Frames’ of Return: Vārtā in ‘Practice’
Aditya Chaturvedi, Nalanda University

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm


3:15 pm – 4:45 pm

Roundtable on Enabling Constraints

Chair: Gregory Peter Fewster, University of Toronto

Justin Stein, University of Toronto
Khalida Ali, University of Toronto
Jairan Gahan, University of Toronto
David Belfon, University of Toronto

4:45 pm – 5:00 pm

Closing Remarks

5:30 pm

444 Spadina Ave

Where to go

Croft Chapter House
University College
15 King’s College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 3H7