We give you the scuttlebutt on academic journals—aiding you in selecting the right journal for publication—in reviews that are sometimes snarky, sometimes lengthy, always helpful. Written by Princeton University graduate students and Wendy Laura Belcher.
For those interested in publishing articles that speak to other scholars of religion and to the state of the field of religious studies as a whole using “broad and fundamental” concepts.
The Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR) is the top academic journal in religious studies, and was founded by the American Academy of Religion as a space for leading scholars to engage complex subjects with regards to religion, culture, politics, theology, technologies and other areas of interest, including but not limited to race, gender, sexuality, and class.
The journal is hosted by various universities depending on who is the head editor. For instance, in 2012, JAAR was hosted by Loyola Marymount University because Amir Hussain was editor (now it is at Claremont). In his address in the March issue, he notes that JAAR underwent important changes: new editorial staff, new website, “overall facelift,” and new style sheet, which lays out the editing process and timeline for authors. In that same issue, other authors note the inclusion of film review essays and a reimagining of what constitutes “religion”, “material religion” and “lived religion.” There was also a new emphasis on artist expressions of religion, evident in the inclusion of artists whose work troubles historic and modern depictions of religious life.
The JAAR Information for Authors page notes that authors whose articles have been published usually cite past JAAR articles, especially special issues and lodge critiques of those past pieces while also establishing and explicitly naming a point, an argument, or put simply, a statement on why their work matters to the field of religious studies.
In 2012, Constance M. Furey published a piece calling for the field to think about bodies and their relation to religion and ritual. Other authors follow suite citing foundational texts in the field, which set the stage such as Robert Orsi’s work. Other scholars bring in theories and arguments from other fields such as African American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies to push religious studies forward and to think more critically about what gets mapped onto religious bodies or bodies that engage religion.
Issues also include reviews for new books in the field, which are usually texts that will be discussed and assessed during roundtables at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting. There are also review essays that consider the impact of a scholars’ entire body of work for the field of religious studies (See Issue 80, Volume 3 for piece on Charles H. Long). There are also eulogies and memoriams included for scholars who have passed. There are also joint pieces written as group reflections on themes and subfields in religious studies (See Volume 81, Issue 4). In addition, JAAR encourages articles that critique religious studies and the university for its complicity in upholding Empire, capitalism, neoliberalism, racism, heterosexism, so on and so forth; for example, there are notable issues on Islam and Islamophobia, India, and the Academy and Violence.
Word Count: 8,000-12,000 words
Issues per year: 4 (March, June, September, December)
Current volume number: 84
Articles per year: 32 (8 per issue)
Citation style: unspecified
Abstract length (if required): 150 words
Reviewed by AHG