Rachel Kraus, Executive Officer

The theme for this year’s annual meeting is “Religion and Division:  Causes, Consequences and Counters.” The meeting will be held August 13-14, 2017 at the InterContinental Montreal Hotel, located within minutes from the ASA conference hotel.  Our President, Michael Emerson, and Program Chair, Di Di, have promised to make this year’s meeting unique in terms of both its intellectual content and social gatherings.  As usual, we will begin our meeting with an Opening Night Reception on Sunday, August 12, which will include an awards ceremony recognizing the winners of the McNamara Student Paper Award, Distinguished Article Award, and ASR’s newest recognition, the Lifetime Achievement Award.  The Furfey Lecture will be delivered by Mark Juergensmeyer, Professor of Sociology and Global Studies and Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

All ASR members may submit paper abstracts (until April 30, 2017) and register for the meeting through the Member Portal of the ASR website (www.sociologyofreligion.com).  Hotel reservations can be made by visiting the Annual Meeting page on the ASR website.  Please consider supporting our association by staying at the ASR hotel and making your reservations as early as possible so you can secure a room at the low ASR rate.

Now is the time for the ASR elections and this year we will elect our next President-Elect and three new Council members.  The person elected as President-Elect will take office as President-Elect at the end of this year’s annual meeting in Montreal, at which time our current President-Elect, Dan Olson, assumes the duties of President.  The three new Council members elected will also begin their terms at the end of this year’s annual meeting and continue through the first Council meeting of 2020.  Just like last year, all members of ASR are eligible and encouraged to vote in the election through the Member Portal of the website (an email will be sent when the portal is available). Elections will close on June 1, 2017, and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter.

The candidates for President-Elect and Council were nominated by this year’s Committee on Nominations, which consisted of Lori Beaman (Chair of the committee and Past President of ASR), Michael Emerson, James Cavendish, and Joy Charlton.  These candidates are as follows:


Lynn Davidman is the Robert M. Beren Distinguished Professor of Modern Jewish Studies and Sociology at the University of Kansas.  Prior to this, she taught at Brown University for 16 years.  Her qualitative work focuses on religion and gender, and recently, religion and embodiment.  She has received several fellowships from prestigious institutions to support her work: Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion, the Radcliffe Institute, and the Center for Advanced Study at the Hebrew University of Israel.  She is the author of three books, and several articles in a range of publications from Sociology of Religion, Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, and the American Jewish Yearbook.  Her current project is a book-length study comparing Buddhist and Jewish meditation and mindfulness texts and practices.

Lynn Davidman’s Vision Statement

My vision for where the sociology of religion should go in the future has two elements:

  • Work toward adapting a language in which we can talk about religion in language that is not rooted in Christian approaches.  For example, Jewish religion (like Islam) involve many embodied ritual practices.  Judaism is not a faith tradition.  But since Christian groups fit under that umbrella, most folks refer to “faith traditions” and that does not apply to Judaism. And while we’re at it we need to move away from the category of Judeo-Christian; it assumes they are as if one tradition, but there were centuries in which Christians killed Jews, or expelled them from their countries.  Using this one term ignores those hundreds of years of Xian persecution of Jews.
  • And this is an entirely different idea from the first—expand our notion of religion so it is not focused primarily on culture and beliefs (with some attention to bodily rituals) to include a great deal more research on religious ritual bodily practices.  All religions are embodied and depend on the repeated performance of bodily rituals.  I think we should move toward a more inclusive view of our foci by and paying attention to bodily techniques and analyzing their roles in congregational adhesion, in defection, and in religious socialization.

Paula Nesbitt, Ph.D., Harvard University 1990, has served on ASR’s Council (2005-08, 1996-99), and Chaired the Fichter Research Award Committee (2003-04, 1996-97) and Membership Committee (1998-2000, member 2012-14). She received the ASA Sociology of Religion Section’s first Distinguished Article Award (1997) and also has served on the section’s Council (1995-98), on various SSSR committees (1994-2017), on the RRA Board (2007-11), and as co-president, AAR’s Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Region (1995-96). Having taught sociology and women’s studies at the University of Denver, and sociology at the University of California, Berkeley (visiting associate professor, 2001-11), she has been at the Graduate Theological Union since 2011 where her research interests focus on cross-cultural religious interaction and conflict transformation. Her current book, Indaba! A way of listening and understanding across the Anglican Communion (forthcoming 2017) lays groundwork for research on interfaith relations. Her research on ordained religious leadership and occupational feminization (Feminization of the Clergy in America, 1997) continues through subsequent projects (2007-17).

Paula Nesbitt’s Vision Statement

ASR’s tradition of providing a dedicated forum for sharing research and cultivating collegial relationships (from senior scholars to students) across differing cultural and international contexts has sustained and furthered research vitality and expertise despite challenges that have faced the field. Sociology of Religion has increased esteem for scholarly excellence in the discipline. The annual meetings have become an ever more vital locus of cultivation and constructive critique for fresh research as well as revisiting familiar topics and frameworks. ASR’s member benefits of presenting and discussing new research, funding opportunities, and award recognition for distinguished contributions offer both challenging standards and a supportive scholarly ethos. As President, I will strive to promote international and cross-cultural scholarship as an invaluable part of our association, working with ASA to build collaboration through joint and special sessions at the annual meeting, and to extend opportunities for research, collaboration, and networking across scholarly interests and backgrounds.


Elisabeth Arweck is a Principal Research Fellow in the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU), Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick, and editor of the Journal of Contemporary Religion. Her research focus revolves around young people, education (in the wider sense), and religion, with recent research having explored young people’s attitudes to religious diversity and the religious socialisation and nurture of young people. Elisabeth Arweck’s research combines education studies with the sociology of religions. Publications include a number of chapters, co-authored articles and (co-edited) books, including the recently edited volume Young People’s Attitudes to Religious Diversity (Routledge 2017). Elisabeth Arweck has been a member of the American Sociological Association for a number of years, as she has been of other national and international learning societies, both within education and the sociology of religion. These include, among others, the International Seminar for Religious Education and Values (ISREV), the Sociology of Religion Study Group of the British Sociology Association (BSA), the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR), and the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (ISSR/SISR).  Elisabeth Arweck has a track record of serving on the committees and boards of the associations of which she is a member. For example, she is currently the membership admissions officer for ISREV and on the committee for the Best Article Award of the ISSR/SISR. She was the Convenor for the BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group, a member of the ISSR/SISR Council (being elected to serve two terms), and the internationalising officer for the SSSR.

Ryan Cragun is a partner, parent, and sociologist of religion (in order of importance). Originally from Utah, he now lives in Florida and works at The University of Tampa. His research and writing focuses on Mormonism and the nonreligious. His research has been published in a variety of academic journals, including: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Religion and Health, and Journal of Contemporary Religion. For more about his work you can visit his website: www.ryantcragun.com.  When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his partner and child, cooking, or hiking.

Jualynne E. Dodson earned the PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is Professor of Sociology and African American & African Studies at Michigan State University since 2004. Jualynne was invited to serve as John Hannah Distinguished Professor before joining the Department of Sociology where she regularly teaches. She serves as founding director of the Award Winning African Atlantic Research Team, a mentoring collective that guides PhD students, including those completing dual degrees with the majority from U.S. cultural communities of color. The Association of Black Sociologists awarded Jualynne the 2016-2017 Life Time Achievement A. Wade Smith Award for distinguished teaching and Mentoring Service.  Dodson has published Engendering Church: Women, Power, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (2002), Sacred Spaces: Religious Traditions of Oriente Cuba (2008), and is writing a volume on Diasporic Dialogue: The Black Church in Cuba and Conference Proceedings of UNESCO Conference on Sharing Cultures, “Intangible Heritage” (2009); Innovative Methods in the Study of Religion (2014); The Changing World Religion Map (2014), and is editor and contributor to the forthcoming volume Religion, Culture and Spirituality in Africa and the African Diaspora, under contract with Routledge Press Studies in Religion.   Dodson has published in such academic journals as Journal of the Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa; OFO: Journal of Transatlantic Studies; La Cátedra de Filosofía e Historia del Seminario Evangélico de Teología y la Editorial Caminos del Centro of Cuba; Innovative Higher Education; and Sage Race Relations Abstracts.

Douglas Ezzy is Professor of Sociology at the University of Tasmania, Australia. He is President of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (2015-2016) and editor of the Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. His research on religion examines the governance of religious diversity, contemporary Paganisms, and Christianity.  His books include Reinventing Church (2016, with Helen and James Collins), Sex, Death and Witchcraft (2014), Teenage Witches (2007, with Helen Berger), and Qualitative Analysis (2002).  He was Head (Chair) of the School of Sociology and Social Work at the University of Tasmania from 2009 to 2012 and is currently Head of Discipline of Sociology and Criminology. Since 2010 he has been a member of the Steering Committee of The American Academy of Religion, Contemporary Pagan Studies Group. He is currently co-writing a book on same-sex attracted Christians.

Solange Lefebvre is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Professor in the Faculty of Théologie et de sciences des religions at the University of Montréal where she holds the Research Chair in Management of Cultural and Religious Diversity. Her areas of interest include religion in the public sphere, religion and politics, and laïcité and secularisation, youth and generations. Lefebvre’s recent publications include Cultures et spiritualités des jeunes [Cultures and Spirituality of Youth] (Bellarmin, 2008); the edited volumes: Religion in the Public Sphere: Canadian Case Studies (University of Toronto Press, 2014), Living with Diversity (International Journal of Theology. Concilium 2014/1), Le programme d’éthique et culture religieuse [Program of Ethics and Religious Culture] (PUL, 2012), Les religions sur la scène mondiale [Religions on the global scene] (PUL, 2010), Le Patrimoine religieux du Québec [Religious Heritage of Quebec] (PUL, 2010).  She has directed and collaborated on several funded research projects. She is part of the executive committee for a major Partnership project funded by SSHRC on religious diversity in Canada and around the world (2012-2017). As someone regularly consulted on religious matters, by governments, the media, as well as public and private organizations, Ms. Lefebvre was a member of the Committee of Experts in the context of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences (CCPARDC), chaired by Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor, from 2007-2008.


Please consider applying or nominating people for ASR grants and awards:

Joseph H. Fichter Research Grants are available to ASR members involved in promising sociological research on women in religion or on the intersection between religion and gender or religion and sexualities.  For the 2017 competition, a total of $12,000 is available to be awarded.  Dissertation research qualifies for funding, as does postdoctoral research by junior and senior scholars.  See the Research Grants & Awards section of the website for instructions and details.

Ralph A. Gallagher Travel Grants are offered to assist faculty colleagues from outside North America and graduate students to attend the ASR annual meeting.  Gallagher grants are intended to help defray the cost of staying at the ASR conference hotel.  Gallagher grantees must be members of ASR, have had a paper accepted for presentation at the meeting, and agree to stay a minimum of two nights at ASR’s conference hotel.  See the Research Grants & Awards section of the website for instructions and details.

The Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to the Sociology of Religion is an award that is to recognize a career or a long period of contribution – it is designed to consider an awardee’s corpus of work as a whole.  See the Research Grants & Awards section of the website for instructions and details.

The Robert J. McNamara Student Paper Award in the amount of $500 is given annually to recognize an outstanding graduate student member’s paper in the sociology of religion.  If the winner of this award agrees to attend the meeting to present the paper, s/he can receive an additional $500 toward the cost of a room at the conference hotel.  See the Research Grants & Awards section of the website for instructions and details.

Finally, the Distinguished Article Award in the amount of $500 is given annually to recognize the most outstanding journal article published in any issue of volume 77 of ASR’s journal Sociology of Religion.  The award identifies an article that offers an exceptional contribution to the sociological study of religion.  See the Research Grants & Awards section of the website for nomination requirements and procedures.  Please note this award does not require nominations.