November 5, 2015

Religion in the American West Group at the AAR

We are excited about our upcoming gathering at the AAR in Atlanta! Our session is on Saturday, November 21, from 4:00 to 6:30pm in Hilton-307.

This year’s session is titled “Religious Promotion and Sacred Space in the American West.” The American West has long been known for innovative forms of religious self-promotion from the miracle-working snake oil salesman to the charismatic founders of new religious movements to the well-coiffed stage preacher. The four papers that make up this session explore how unique western spaces and sites have combined with religious self-promotion and self-definition to create new and often contested forms of religious practice.

As is the custom of the Group, all four papers will be pre-circulated, and presenters will give only short points of entry into their papers. This year, Prof. Sarah Pike of California State University, Chico, will respond to the papers before opening up the floor to lively Q & A. The papers will be available to AAR members by November 1 here. (

Presenters and their paper titles:

Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand, Middle Tennessee State University
“Religion, Fraud, and the American West: The ‘I AM’ Activity and Defining the Limits of Religious Freedom”

Justin Doran, University of Texas
“Bayou Revival: Houston as the Contact Zone between the New South and the American West”

Megan Goodwin, Bates College
“‘This Is Not About Religion’: The State of Texas v. Yearning For Zion”

Angela Tarango, Trinity University

Isaiah Ellis, University of North Carolina
“Hunting Buffalo in Oklahoma: Native American Casinos, Sacred Land, and Portrayals of of Native Culture and Religion”

We hope to see you all at the meeting and hope that you can stay for the business meeting afterward!

October 20, 2015

CFP: Religion in America at AAR-Western Region

Religion in America

Fitting into the larger 2016 Conference theme in the broadest of terms, the Religion in America Unit seeks papers that explore how faith has shaped the concept of Social Justice, both in theory and practice. Our Unit is also curious to better understand how 'ethical disaffiliation' (i.e. the act of leaving one's religion for moral reasons) is changing the landscape of both religion and social justice work. For instance, recent research indicates that over 30% of Millennials left the faith into which they were born because they believed it to be hostile to the LGBT community. Where are these and similar trends taking the US? Are there historical case studies (e.g. abolitionism, prohibitionism, etc.) that shed insight into current realities?

While this relationship between faith and social justice is a general topic of the larger conference, call for papers within the Religion in America Unit remains open to considering papers that go beyond this topic.

Please send title, abstract, and participant form to Konden R. Smith, Ph.D., at and Chase Laurelle Way

August 28, 2015

Call for Papers:

Race, Gender, and Power on the Mormon Borderlands
Announcement published by Dee Garceau on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Date: October 15, 2015

Subject Fields:
African American History / Studies, Canadian History / Studies, Native American History / Studies, U.S. - Mexico Borderlands, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Race, Gender, and Power in the Mormon Borderlands
Mormon history lies at the borders between subaltern and dominant cultures. On the one hand, due to their unusual family structure and theocratic government, Mormons were a persecuted minority for the better part of the nineteenth century. On the other, Mormons played a significant role as colonizers of the North American West, extending their reach to the borderlands of Mexico, Canada, and the Pacific Islands. There Mormon colonists intermarried with Native Americans, Mexicans, Hawaiians and Samoans, even as they placed exclusions on interracial sexual relations and marriage. During the nineteenth century, Mormons also discouraged Native peoples’ polygamous practices while encouraging plural marriage for white women. And for the better part of the twentieth century, Mormon religious doctrine subordinated persons of color within church hierarchy. African-American men, for example, could not hold the priesthood until 1978. Historically, then, Mormons have navigated multiple borders-- between colonizer and colonized, between white and Other, and between minority and imperial identities. This limnal position calls for further investigation. We propose an anthology of essays about race, gender, and power in the Mormon borderlands.
Over the past thirty years, historians of Mormon women have expanded our understanding of gender and power in Mormon society. However, most of these studies focus on white Mormon women, while Mormon women of color have remained largely invisible. This volume seeks not simply to make visible the lived experiences of Mormon women of color, but more importantly, to explore gender and race in the Mormon borderlands. Taken together, these essays will address how Mormon women and men navigated the complications of minority and colonizer status, interracial marriage and doctrinal race hierarchies, patriarchy and female agency, vigilante violence and religious responsibility, and plural identities. These metaphoric borders were brought into play on the geographic and cultural borders of the United States. Specifically, this volume will encompass the continental U.S. West, the borderlands of Canada and Mexico, and Pacific Rim islands such as Samoa and Hawaii, from the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. A focus on intersectionality in the borderlands promises to open new directions for Mormon history in concert with recent trends in western history. 

The anthology will be co-edited by Dee Garceau, Rhodes College,, Andrea Radke-Moss, Brigham Young University-Rexburg,, and Sujey Vega, Arizona State University, . Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have. 

Please send your article abstract or manuscript as an email attachment by October 15, 2015 to Dee Garceau , phone: 901-484-1837.

Contact Email:

April 24, 2015

Job Announcement: VAP in American Religions @ University of Wyoming

The Religious Studies department at the University of Wyoming announces a one-year position in American religions at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor or instructor, beginning in August 2015.  Responsibilities include five undergraduate-level courses over the academic year, with at least one of these taught online.

Required qualifications: Ph.D. in Religious Studies or related discipline, or evidence of imminent completion of the degree; demonstrated expertise in American religions.

Preferred qualifications: Specialization in religion in the American West; ample experience in undergraduate teaching.

To apply: Submit a cover letter and CV, as email attachments to:  Please include names and contact information for three recommenders in cover letter.

Review of applications begins May 5, 2015, and will continue until the position is filled.

Direct any inquiries regarding this position to Quincy D. Newell,

The full job ad can be found here.

The University of Wyoming is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law and University policy.  Please see

We conduct background investigations for all final candidates being considered for employment. Offers of employment are contingent upon the completion of the background check.

April 20, 2015

OAH Presidential Address: On Social Amnesia and Neutrality as Public Performance

This past weekend Patty Limerick, Faculty Director and Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, delivered the presidential address at the OAH 2015 annual meeting. Her address, "Historians as Public Intellectuals: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, Seen from the Interior" considered how historians can help society avoid amnesia.

To revive the profession and its place in American culture, Limerick encouraged members of the Organization of American Historians to think less about professors and the academy and more about the story, or stories, that bring life to their work. Limerick used herself as an example of a historian who lived the kind transition she is encouraging: moving from an early career scholar focused on speaking to her field (with monographs like Legacy of Conquest) to a historian who speaks to a larger public audience about the importance of historical context (writing briefs for Congress, hosting public events and forums through the Center of the American West, and applying historical methods to endeavors other writing books).  In both kinds of efforts, Limerick sees her role as supplying historical perspective in order to better understand and shape the future. Rather than detract from her role or status as a scholar, Limerick argues that her work engaging the public brings greater credibility to her scholarship and enhances her purpose as a historian.

Limerick's speech is well timed as as the April 2015 issue of Perspectives on History also considers the current state of the profession. Perspectives provide a roundtable on a related concern: "History as a Book Discipline. It's worth reading after watching the entire presidential address, which can be found here courtesy of History News Network.