Department of Religious Studies

Opening Keynote speaker: Sarah Stewart-Kroeker, Princeton Theological Seminary

Closing Keynote speaker: Niloofar Haeri, John Hopkins University

Engagements with the idea of afterlife often intersect with religious thought and practices. Afterlives are also entwined with anticipation — with the question of what comes next, be that after a radical break, e.g., what might await one after death, or a more gradual change in how something is reconsidered over time, e.g., posthumanism, postcolonialism, etc. Responses to the afterlife within the study of religion and related disciplines raise questions around eschatology, the apocalypse, doctrinal texts, and the hereafter in its various iterations acrossAfterlives Conference religions. The spatio-temporal fluidity of the afterlife also invites considerations of instances where religions, related theories and concepts have experienced social, cultural, political, or geographical afterlives.   

We encourage graduate students across disciplines to participate in this conference centered upon after-live(s) in the study of religion and related fields. We welcome proposals from perspectives outside the academic study of religion such as those from the social sciences, literature, critical theory, arts, theater studies, and cognitive studies. We invite an engagement with this salient concept and the various ways in which afterlives can be understood and studied, including but not limited to the following themes:

  • Temporality
  • Eschatology, prophecy, and apocalypse
  • Contemporary movements
  • Sacred texts
  • Social, political, and pop culture
  • Artistic and literary representations
  • Environmental repercussions
  • Missionary movements, cults and communes
  • Migration, immigration, forced displacement 
  • Colonialism, slavery, genocide 
  • Religion and secularism 
  • Human, non-human and the supernatural
  • Utopias, dystopias and experiments in alternative living


Conference participants will have 20 minutes to present. Each panel will include a faculty respondent followed by open Q&A with other participants. We invite standard paper presentations as well as performances, recitations, and other forms of creative expression. Students engaged in collaborative departmental or independent projects are also encouraged to submit a proposal for a special panel. 


Guidelines for submission

All graduate students are welcome to apply. Please submit a 350-500 word abstract in either Word or PDF format to  by December 15, 2023. 

Abstracts should include your full name, institutional affiliation (university department or research center), and contact information. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by February 15, 2024. 

Final drafts of conference presentations will be due March 15, 2024, so as to ensure that respondents have enough time to offer substantial feedback.