Given the recent global economic recession, high unemployment rates, and strident political debates on issues such as deficits, taxation, and economic growth, concerns about money are high on public and personal agendas. From monasticism to communitarianism to prosperity theology, religion has been an important variable in cultural attitudes and ideologies toward participation in the marketplace. Brigham Young, for instance, instructed nineteenth-century Utah Mormons to produce their own food and goods, and not to trade with “gentiles,” and various towns experimented with the United Order. This separation did not last, however, and throughout the twentieth century, Mormons followed a path of economic integration. With such an example in mind, this conference seeks to explore how Mormons have theorized about and used the goods of this world personally, socially, and theologically across time and in various settings.
Possible questions to be explored include: Does LDS theology—from Joseph Smith to the early Utah period to the present—say anything distinctive about Mormons’ relationship to the market? How has the economic communitarianism of 19th-century Mormonism played out over the past century? How do Mormon teachings affect the financial and economic decisions of Mormon individuals, families, and communities (for instance, the connections between Mormon millennialism and food storage, or the dilemma of women in the workplace)? What can be said about major LDS “titans of industry,” ranging from Marriott to Covey to Romney? In what ways are Mormon economic ideals shaped by their original American context, and how do they translate in the international sphere, particularly in areas that do not hold as strongly to free market capitalism? To what extent were Latter-day Saints involved in the financial and housing industries that have been pointed to as major elements of the 2008 recession? Is there a coherent body of Mormon teaching about poverty, along the lines of a “preferential option for the poor”? In sum, is there anything distinctively “Mormon” about the ways that Latter-day Saints, historically or currently, operate as economic agents?
Since these questions, and many more, can be approached from a wide variety of disciplines and methods, we invite papers from all possible fields of academic inquiry. We strongly encourage graduate students to apply. A limited number of stipends will be available to conference presenters who need assistance for travel and lodging.
Abstracts of approximately 250 words, a one-page CV, and a presenter’s bio should be submitted by November 1, 2011. Authors will be notified of acceptance by December 1.
Patrick Mason or Elizabeth Mott
Claremont Graduate University School of Religion
831 N. Dartmouth Ave., Claremont, CA 91711
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