The Religion Graduate Students’ Association of Columbia University is accepting proposals for its eighth annual conference, Pray, Kill, Eat: Relating to Animals across Religious Traditions. The conference will take place Friday, April 20, 2012, at Columbia, with keynote speakers Wendy Doniger (University of Chicago) and Kimberly C. Patton (Harvard Divinity School). Details below.

Humans have always had complex and intimate relationships with animals. Animals have been feared, revered, hunted, sacrificed, eaten, utilized, domesticated, and worshipped for thousands of years. Religious traditions have been instrumental in both reflecting and constructing humans’ notions of animals and have integrated such notions into comprehensive mythical, symbolic, and ritual frameworks of meaning and action. In recent decades, however, many earlier forms of such relationships have been radically transformed in the face of rapid development.  At the same time scholars like Kimberley Patton and Wendy Doniger have led efforts to rethink animals and religion from comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives. This conference, therefore, engages both the shifting complexity of the modern world and a growing body of scholarship in religious studies. We seek papers that explore animals as both religious objects and subjects, and probe the myriad ways in which religions reflect, shape, and re-shape the relationship between humans and animals.

We welcome papers that address contemporary as well as historical articulations of this topic, drawing on diverse methodologies and sources.  Papers may be on any topic related to animals and religion.  Suggested themes include:

– Sacrifice
– The use of animals (or animal parts) in festivals, rituals and other religious contexts
– The deification and demonization of animals
– Religious dietary practices (e.g. prescriptions and proscriptions regarding animals)
– Transgressive practices involving animals
– Animals as the paradigmatic Other
– Blurred categories: hybrids, half-animals, shape-shifting, etc.
– Possession of/by animals
– Animals in religious narratives
– Animal symbolism
– Religion and animals in the 21st century (urbanization, technology, industrialization of animal husbandry)
– Animal rights and the treatment of animals
– Religion, animals, and political discourse
– Evolution and creationism
– Reincarnation

Please submit paper titles and abstracts (300 words or less) to
Please include name, institutional and departmental affiliation, and a contact email address.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE:  January 27, 2012
All proposals will receive a response by mid-February, 2012