With graduate student facilitator Amber Lowe and faculty facilitator Stephen Selka.
Is Religious Studies equipped to address what it means to move beyond the category human? How do the methods of Religious Studies allow us to imagine life beyond earth? Do we as scholars attend to the fact that humanity evolves—in all senses—and how that evolution impacts religion? Using Afrofuturism and speculative thought as the methodologies, these sessions invite us to redress the role of religion—informed by Enlightenment religious thought—in creating “normative” figurations of the human. These sessions consider past exclusions of Black and Trans persons—for example—from the human, future inclusions of different life forms and ways of being into the human, the decentering and destabilization of the human, and the implications of that decentering and destabilization for Religious Studies. Ultimately these sessions will challenge speculative thought that often writes religion out of the future. They will also invite discussions of how we might talk about ways of thinking about the human in the classes we teach, whether they are focused on contemporary traditions or the ancient world, as in all these cases we see exclusions and inclusions, and speculations about the future of “humanity,” as ideas about what religion will look like in the future.