2019 – Ipsita Chatterjea

I want to welcome all of you, those here with us, those arriving over the course of the day, those following along at home now and going forward as we are all tied together by the program we put together via the website and PDF each year. I want to thank Bill Arnal and the University of Regina’s Department of Gender, Religion, and Critical Studies, and the Religious Studies Department at Claremont McKenna University.

I want to talk about the design of the workshop as an event , an expanded version of my remarks will appear in Punk Pedagogies: Disruptions and Connections as “Teaching the Study of Religion without a Church: SORAAAD as Punk Pedagogy.” From its inception SORAAAD was meant to serve as a stable means of developing qualitative research with regard to the study of religion, in a manner that reaches across research specializations, and has been designed to be a space that takes into account the reality of scholars studying religion. Briefly, I want to address that reality.

Technically the workshop is free, but please know in saying that we understand fully that attending costs you a lot. I want to thank those who have been talking about how expensive the Annual Meeting is, and for refusing to allow those who attend this meeting on shoe string budgets to languish in isolation.

What we know about religion scholars attending this meeting: the costs in time and money add up before you even leave: flying in a day early, a night’s hotel room, having to arrange for someone to take over a class, and rebalancing childcare. We know you arrive tired, jet lagged, and ahead of an exhausting meeting with the specter of unfamiliar terrain, the prospect of long lines for an array expensive dissatisfying food, and other forms of “captive audience pricing.” We do what we can to alleviate that by ensuring once you manage to get here you can focus on your work. SORAAAD, now in our fifth year, of fighting “Conference Scurvy.”

To be clear, this workshop is also definitely, and not secondarily designed for everyone who has ever been shut out of a room they needed to be in for the sake of professional development over costs, other professional commitments, a lack of an invitation, a lack of reimbursement, a lack of stable employment or having to manage multiple positions and, or medical issues, eldercare, childcare, or other variations on the two or three body problem.

For those of you who will catch the tweets later, or settle into messing with the program during the term break or even months later – welcome. We understand that your interest in the topic at hand has little relation to whether or not you can be in the room: #ReadWithUs. For those here, in transit or at home, the program with its abstracts, suggested and further readings, and this year for the first time, video, is designed so you have a sound ramp up into the year’s theme and solid foot holds for a deeper foray into the topic on your own terms.

The only reason I can approach Bill and ask our committee and board to back the workshop with their labor and the names, year in and year out or ask our additional institutional sponsors for their support is that we allow anyone who registers and shows up, wants to work on this material, respects the general approach and their fellow travelers by being willing to meet basic standards of respect and decent conduct, to join in.

On behalf of the entire committee and our board, let me say: bring your entire self with you. As Rudy Busto was kind enough to say last year, “SORAAAD, we believe you.“ We don’t care about your pedigree, we don’t give a damn how much grant money you brought in (though congrats if you have), or how many followers you have on social media. We know its harder to keep up with the field, understand developments in other subfields, or find a point of entry for new approaches if you are adjuncting or just don’t have recourse to the library at a Research 1

We definitely care about whether or not you want to use the workshop to improve your ability to observe with nuance and develop your teaching, research and professional environments with recourse to a slice of some of the best examples of research and teaching in mind alongside scholars collegial enough to share their insights.

Do you, in all ways tied to qualitative research (identification of appropriate methods and when and how to mix them, critical theories, social theories, research ethics etc, ) want to question why you ask the questions you do? When it comes to framing your subjects, do want to continue to get over yourself, distinguishing between understanding your research interests and prooftexting those you study through them? Do you want to make sure long erased or glossed over ways religious people have lived are surfaced? Knowing that there is a human tendency to be the hammer that treats all issues as nails, how do you want to retool, or find new tools?

I hope you enjoy the papers being presented today. Before we introduce you to each other, I am happy to announce our partnership with Implicit Religion US. SORAAAD will conduct a workshop on June 2, to open Implicit Religion US’s June 2-4 Conference. SORAAAD will open each Implicit Religion US workshop for the foreseeable future, we thank Francis Stewart for electing to underwrite this second SORAAAD workshop.