Call For Papers 2015

Weaponizing Scripture?

Second Annual Graduate Student Colloquium in Scripture, Interpretation and Practice

March 22nd-23rd, 2015 at the University of Virginia

@SIPgradsUVAWeaponizing Scripture? on Facebook


The 2015 Graduate Colloquium in Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice welcomes submissions of original research from graduate students on the topic “Weaponizing Scripture?”

Religious communities have frequently appealed to their scriptures in contexts of conflict. Sacred texts play a role in defining communal boundaries and in furthering their own formative and institutional goals. Conversely, individuals and groups who are antagonistic towards particular traditions deploy those traditions’ scriptures against them. Political and military leaders, resistance movements, and minority groups may all cite scripture as a warrant for action. The Word(s) of God can even be portrayed as a weapon itself.

This conference, then, will explore cases, both historical and contemporary, in which scripture serves as a resource for/against the communities that are formed by it, as well as how it is instrumentalized for formational, popular, political, and/or polemical agendas. It further seeks to uncover ways that scripture transforms the character of the debates and purposes for which it is deployed. Accordingly, papers could examine such cases intra-traditionally, ecumenically, inter-religiously, or between religious and secular spheres.

We seek participants who will address this topic from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives — historical, legal, theological, hermeneutic, ethical, political, and more. The following list is meant to be suggestive of topics rather than provide categories and is therefore not exhaustive:


In light of the recent revelations about sexual assault on U.Va’s campus, we want to convene a special panel examining the intersections between scripture and sexual violence. Papers considered for this panel could, for example, discuss sexual violence within scripture itself, scriptures that address issues connected to rape culture more broadly, or historical or cultural instances in which scripture has been deployed in response to sexual violence.

  • How is scripture a resource and/or an instrument in the following contexts?:
    • in social/political movements (#blacklivesmatter, Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Abolition, The Civil Rights Movement, Latin American Base Communities, Islamism, the Christian Right/Left, etc.)
    • within political and/or everyday speech and social media
    • as warrant for religious or political ideological stances, including secular ones; violence and war; non-violent action; social justice/activism
    • within religious traditions as a means of formation, or as a means of inclusion or exclusion; in doctrinal arguments (classical or contemporary); towards the reform of traditions and religious sects, or the formation of religious institutions institutionalization
  • Phenomena such as:
    • Portrayal of weapons in scripture, including depictions of scripture itself as a weapon
    • scriptural commentary, scriptural reading strategies, scripture interpreting scripture, rewritten scripture
    • religious groups/movements defined by a specific scripture or set of scriptures
  • Philosophical questions:
    • What is the place of scripture in nurturing our religious traditions?
    • What does it mean when a political leader cites scripture as warrant for a military action?
    • Is there a difference between scripture used as a warrant for a specific action verse scripture used as a means of forming particular communities?
    • Does scripture function as a warrant within communities?

Plenary Speaker: Dr. Sohail Nakhooda

Dr. Nakhooda is a scholar of both Islamic and Christian traditions, as well as a major political leader in post-revolution Libya. Currently, he serves as senior advisor to the Libyan ambassador to the UAE and co-directs the Islamic Analytic Theology project at Kalam Research & Media (KRM) in the UAE, in association with the John Templeton Foundation. During the Libyan revolution he worked as Secretary of the Libya Stabilization Team and also with the Support Offices of the Executive Team of the National Transitional Council of Libya. He was also former advisor to HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, a Junior Fellow of the Royal Aal Al­Bayt Institute, and founder and former editor-­in­-chief of the award­winning Islamica Magazine. We have sought him out because he provides us a unique window into the role of scripture both within religious tradition and in the political and even military spheres.

Proposals in the form of a 250-word abstract should be emailed to by January 23rd, 2015. Acceptance notifications will be sent out by February 5th, 2015. Final papers, not to exceed 2000 words, must be submitted by March 14th, 2015. For up-to-date information please check out our website:


We are grateful for the financial support provided by the following sponsors:
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University
Project on Lived Theology
Society for Scriptural Reasoning
Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures
Office of Associate Dean of the Arts and Humanities
Office of Diversity and Equity
Office of the Vice Provost
Department of Religious Studies
Virginia Center for the Study of Religion




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s