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!