Religion Department News and Events

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    The Jewish and Colonial Questions in German-Jewish Philosophy

    Monday, February 19, 2024
    4:30 P.M. | Allbritton 103

    With Yaniv Feller, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Religion at the University of Florida.

    What does it mean to be a minority in the age of empires? Recent discussions of Jews and colonialism have focused on the status of Jews as the internally colonized and marginalized others and on the question of Zionism. The life and work of Leo Baeck, one of the leading Jewish public intellectuals of the twentieth century and the official leader of German Jewry under the Holocaust, offer a complex and fascinating case study of different interactions between the Jewish and colonial questions from nineteenth-century Germany, the Holocaust, and the superpowers of the Cold War.

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    Religion Department Open House

    Wednesday, October 11, 2023
    4:30-5:30 P.M. | Woodhead Lounge

    Prospective majors are invited to meet faculty and current majors and minors to learn about our department, our courses, and the requirements for our major and minor. Refreshments will be served!

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    God and Guns: the History of Faith and Firearms in America with Dr. Joseph Slaughter

    Secular Arizona invited Joseph Slaughter to deliver a talk on “God and Guns” – based off the Religion course he taught last spring, and will offer again next semester. He addressed the question of why firearms and Christianity are so intertwined in the United States and what insights the historical record could provide on how an identity that bundles firearms and faith came together in such a powerful, visible way.

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    America Trends Podcast: Is Christianity Dying in America?

    In America Trends Podcast, Joseph Slaughter a historian and assistant professor of religion at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, attempts to walk us through the complexity of the marketplace of religion in our country. He reminds us that formal religion has been viewed as in death throes before and rebounded. Can it in an era when a growing number of young people come from families of mixed faiths who have not really been born into a singular faith tradition?
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    Elizabeth McAlister Named 2023 Crossroads Research Fellow by Princeton University

    Elizabeth McAlister is working alongside colleagues in Haiti to help preserve precious art and sacred objects. To support her efforts, McAlister has recently been named a 2023 Crossroads Research Fellow by Princeton University. The Crossroads Project “responds to challenges that call for deeper public understanding of and scholarly engagement with Black religious histories and cultures,” according to its website.  Read more here.
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    Joseph Slaughter featured in CNN piece on Christianity

    John Blake, a Senior Writer at CNN, recently interviewed Joseph Slaughter for a piece on predictions of the decline in Christianity published on April 9, 2023.
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    Mary-Jane Rubenstein receives the 2022 Iris Book Award

    The Center for Religion and the Human at IU Bloomington announces Mary-Jane Rubenstein’s Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse (Columbia University Press, 2014) as winner of the third annual Iris Book Award.

    Jurors for the Iris Book Award praised Worlds Without End as “a delightful tour of a topic that was once esoteric, but now is hovering on the edges of science fact: that we do not exist in a universe, but rather in a multiverse,” and called the book “a fascinating and entertaining exploration of the history of an idea that just won’t quit; from the ancient atomists to modern cosmologists, the hunch that 1 plus 1 might add up to infinity – infinite worlds, infinite cosmos – has influenced everything from physics to theology.”
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    The Conversation Highlights a New Department Course

    Joseph Slaughter's new course, God and Guns: The History of Faith and Firearms in America, was featured in the Uncommon Courses series in The Conversation.
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    Andrew Quintman Launches New Academic Journal

    In fall 2022, Andrew Quintman launched a new open-access peer reviewed academic journal: the  Journal of Tibetan Literature. A collaboration with Kurtis Schaeffer (Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia), JTL is a biannual publication dedicated to research, translation, and criticism on Tibetan-language materials from the origin of Tibetan writing to the present day. The Journal offers a peer reviewed academic venue exclusively dedicated to the study of Tibetan writing, authors, and literary activity. While the practice of translation has long been central to the study of Tibetan literature, it has frequently been undervalued or overlooked in the academy as a productive form of scholarship. JTL highlights not only the final products of academic translation but asks translators to reflect on their approaches, contexts, problems, and practices in their work. Under the rubric of criticism, the journal invites both critical and appreciative perspectives on literature and the literary in Tibetan composition.
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    Faculty News!

    Mary-Jane Rubenstein's new book has just been published by The University of Chicago Press. Astrotopia is an exposé of the old myths behind the “NewSpace” race. In the cosmic visions of national space programs and billionaire “astropreneurs,” Astrotopia uncovers the religious promises that justified the conquest of the earth—promises like freedom from oppression, growth without limit, and salvation in a brand-new world. Paranormal religionist Jeff Kripal calls Astrotopia “one of the most philosophically sophisticated, mythically impactful, contemporarily relevant, and wickedly funny books I have read in a very long time."
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    Buddhism and the Uses of History in Russia

    Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies
    Indiana University

    Wednesday, March 9, 2022
    10:00 A.M. | Zoom (Registration Required)

    Presented by Dr. Kathryn Graber, Dr. Justine Buck Quijada, and Dr. Nikolai Tsyrempilov

    Click here to view a video recording of this event.

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    While the history of Buddhism in Russia has often been overlooked, it is vitally important to understanding both Russian statecraft and Buddhist practice: Buddhist narratives are embedded in the history of Russia, and Russian historical narratives are embedded in local practices of Buddhism. Join us for a conversation on the history of Buddhism in Russia, how that history matters to contemporary Russian Buddhists, and what scholars of Buddhism can learn from it. In conversation to discuss their new books will be Nikolay Tsyrempilov (Nazarbayev University), author of Under the Shadow of White Tara: Buriat Buddhists in Imperial Russia, and Justine Buck Quijada (Wesleyan University), author of Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets: Rituals of History in Post-Soviet Buryatia. Moderated by Kathryn E. Graber (Indiana University).
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    Conversation with Justine Quijada: 2020 AAR Book Award Winner

    The fall of the Soviet Union provides the cultural space for a revival of the religious practices of the Buryat, an indigenous people of southern Siberia who live on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal, just north of the Mongolian border. Justine Buck Quijada, author of Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets: Rituals of History in Post-Soviet Buryatia (Oxford University Press, 2019) joins Kristian Petersen to discuss her research into how the Buryat people recontextualize the rise and fall of the Soviet period into Buddhist and shamanic histories. Quijada's book won AAR's 2020 Best First Book in the History of Religions.

    Click here for the recording.

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    Maga! Racism, Masculinity, and White Evangelicals' Romance with Trump

    Monday, April 12, 2021
    4:30 P.M. (EST) 

    A Conversation with Anthea Butler and Kristin Kobes Du Mez

    Click "Read More" to view a video recording of this event.

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    Since the 2016 election, scholars, pundits, and befuddled Americans have asked how the Religious Right, champion of “Family Values,” could so heartily endorse a womanizing, materialistic, irreligious reality TV star with a reputation for playing fast and loose with the facts. This panel brings together two of the most sought-after scholars of white evangelicalism, Anthea Butler and Kristin Kobes Du Mez, the respective authors of White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America (2020) and Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (2021), who will explain how white evangelicalism’s views on masculinity and race made the election of 2016 a culmination, not an aberration.

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    The QAnon Phenomenon: Satanic Panic, Cannibal Fantasies, and Pizzagate

    Monday, November 2, 2020
    4:30 P.M. (EST) | Zoom (Registration Required)

    A Conversation with Megan Goodwin and Jeff Sharlet

    Click here to see the video recording of this event.

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    Who or what is “Q,” and why are a growing number of Americans convinced by the story they are telling? Why are they charging “the Democratic elite” with “Satanic” conspiracy, ritual abuse, and cannibalism, and more importantly, why is anybody listening? Is QAnon a political movement? A Religion? Have we ever seen anything like this before, and if so, how might that history help us understand the phenomenon of QAnon?

    QAnon event on Nov 2, 2020

    Co-Sponsored by the Wesleyan E2020 Initiative

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    Resource Sovereignty Beyond Socialism and Capitalism

    Soyuz Postsocialist Studies Network
    By Justine Buck Quijada
    October 23, 2020

    Click here to read the article.

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    Roots and Routes: Conversations on Displacement and Belonging

    Tune into WESU 88.1FM Middletown every Monday starting Feb. 24, 1:30 pm for Roots and Routes: Conversations on Displacement and BelongingYou can listen to previous episodes and learn more about it here.

    Roots and Routes is a radio show bringing stories of exile, homeland, and belonging from all over the world, from Bangladesh to Bosnia, from NYC to Istanbul. The show is researched, produced, and presented by students of the Yaniv Feller’s course “RELI213\CJST214 Refugees & Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora” with support from the Allbritton Center's Office for Service Learning.

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    Quijada’s Book on Post-Soviet Buryatia Wins Prize from Society for the Anthropology of Religion

    Congratultions to Justine Quijada on winning the first Honorable Mention for the Geertz Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Religion (SAR). Read more about it here!
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    Biblical Tourism, Sensory Choreography, and the Power of Entertainment

    Wednesday, October 30, 2019
    7:00 P.M. | PAC 002

    James S. Bielo
    Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio Read More
    In this public lecture, anthropologist Jamesa S. Bielo explores how biblical tourism sites mobilize entertainment strategies and imperatives to choreograph visitors' bodily and ideological experiences. Bielo draws on ethnographic fieldwork from Ark Encounter, a creationist theme park in Kentucky, and the Museum of the Bible, and evangelical museum in Washington, D.C., with a particular focus on the creative labor behind on-site exhibits. Ultimately, this work reveals the power of modern entertainment in shaping conservative Christian claims to public legitimacy and authority.
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    Religion Department Open House

    Wednesday, October 30, 2019
    12:15 P.M. | Woodhead Lounge

    Prospective majors are invited to lunch with faculty and current majors and minors to learn about our department, our courses, and the requirements for our major and minor.
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    Celebrating Faculty/Student Collaboration

    During the 2018-19 academic year sophomore Tinatin Omoeva worked with Professor Justine Quijada on a Student Faculty Internship to turn some of Professor Quijada’s fieldwork materials into a short film. The film documents a ritual to make offerings to Bukhe Baatar, the spirit master of the Selenga river in the Buryat Republic, Russian Federation, held in 2012. Read More
    Photographs and video of the ritual, taken by Roberto Quijada, are combined with an interview with Bair Zhambalovich Tsyrendorzhiev, the Director of the Shaman’s Association, Tengeri, explaining what is happening in the photographs. Tengeri is an urban shaman’s organization that is reviving pre-Soviet rituals in new forms, and attempting to re-connect with an animate landscape that was neglected during the Soviet period. Tinatin Omoeva, a heritage Russian speaker, transcribed and translated the interview and edited the film.
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    Beyond the Classroom: Student-led Radio Discussions on Religion in the Diaspora

    In an article for LSE Religion and Global Society, a research-led interdisciplinary blog that promotes an understanding of religion and its relevance in world affairs, Noa Street-Sachs '19 outlines what she and her classmates learned in Yaniv Feller's RELI 213 - Refugees & Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora.
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    Religion Students Visit Hindu Temple in Middletown

    Students in Peter Gottschalk's RELI 291 course - From Jerusalem to Ground Zero: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sioux, and Hindu Notions of Sacredness - visit the Sri Satyanarayana Swamy Temple in Middletown. They were guided through the temple by Dr. Asha Shipman, Director of Hindu Life and Hindu Chaplain for Yale University.

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    HOLY COMMUNION CONDOMS! The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as a Case for Religion in Queer Studies

    Tuesday, May 7, 2019
    4:30 P.M. | CAAS Lounge (Center for African American Studies Vanguard Lounge

    Melissa Wilcox
    Professor and Holstein Family and Community Chair of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside

    Photo courtesy of John Entwistle

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    Considering queer studies’ commitment to thinking intersectionally, it is long past time to address the topic of religion in nuanced and informed ways. Using as a framing example the Condom Savior Masses hosted for many years by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence—an international or-der of religiously unaffiliated, noncelibate, queer nuns—the talk explores the critical importance of religious studies to a complete understanding of queerness and queer activism. Religion, it turns out, is profoundly queer—especially, but not only, when the Condom Savior is involved.

    Co-Sponsors: American Studies, the Anthropology Department, and the Theater Department

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    Life on the God Beat: Why Religion Reporting Matters

    Thursday, March 28, 2019
    4:30 P.M. | PAC 002

    Liz Kineke
    Producer, CBS Religion & Culture Series

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    America is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world, but nuanced reporting on religion is an afterthought in many news organizations across the country. Kineke discusses how she came to the beat and why she believes faith and religion is the silent partner in any story. Using examples from previous work, she’ll discuss how she finds her stories, why certain editorial choices are made, and the elements that make for good storytelling in broadcast television.

    Cosponsors: The Office of Faculty Career Development, the Writing Certificate, the Department of Religion

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    Faculty News!

    Justine Quijada’s book on religious and secular ritual in post-Soviet Buryatia has just been published by Oxford University Press. In Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets, you’ll find dazzling analyses of civic devotion, indigenous and new age shamans, and the miraculously preserved body of a deceased Buddhist lama—all of which, in the words of one reviewer, “blur and blend and defy any attempt to…categorize them by religion, ethnicity, or nationality politics” (Laurel Kendall, American Museum of Natural History).

    We are also delighted to report that Professor Quijada has just been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.

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    Studying Religion: Living Religiously or Not?

    Monday, February 18, 2019
    6:30 P.M. | Woodhead Lounge, Exley Science Center

    Panel participants: Rabbi David Leipziger Teva, Maia Reumann-Moore, Professor Andrew QuintmanReverend Tracy Mehr-Muska, Yael Krifcher, Professor Peter Gottschalk

    Facilitators: Melisa Olgun, Talia Goldberg

    Those planning to attend are encouraged to submit their questions (anonymously) in advance. 

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    The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and the Department of Religion invite you to a conversation about the roles, if any, religion and religious identity play in the lives of those who study these. You might have questions about what it means to live religiously, or not, and to study religion in a university classroom. Maybe you wonder how academic insights shape contemporary religious practice. What types of study threaten religion? Which types enliven it? Can study do both? This is your chance to ask your chaplains, professors, and fellow students (almost) anything and hear their various perspectives!


    Dinner included: Indian food from Haveli

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    Biological Gods: UFOs, Science (Fiction), and Some Emergent Mythologies

    Wednesday, February 13, 2019
    4:30 P.M. | PAC 002

    Jeffrey J. Kripal
    J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philsophy and Religious Thought at Rice University
    Associate Directgor of the Center for Theory and Research at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California

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    Beginning with a brief history of UFO phenomena, Kripal explores four American books that describe life-changing encounters. Stressing the cold war context and eschatological dimensions of such modern ecstatic visions and encounters, Kripal notes how each author engages earlier religious interpretations but finally moves outside of them. Positing previously unknown species that interact with humans – perhaps to feed off human emotion, to domesticate humans, or to evolve humans via sexual communion and interspecies symbiosis – the authors create a new set of evolutionary panpsychisms, erotic vitalisms, and biological polytheisms. These challenge the reigning materialisms and projection theories of conventional scholarship.

    Cosponsors: The Religion Department and the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life

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    Book Launch for Mary-Jane Rubenstein

    November 8, 2018
    6:00 P.M. | RJ Julia Bookstore

    Mary-Jane Rubenstein Professor of Religion
    Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds, Monsters

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    Joined by:

    J. Kehaulani Kauanui Professor of American Studies Director, Center for the Americas
    Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty: Land, Sex, and the Colonial Politics of State Nationalism

    Joseph Weiss Assistant Professor of Anthropology
    Shaping the Future on Haida Gwaii: Life Beyond Settler Colonialism

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    Religion Department Open House

    Thursday, November 1, 2018
    11:45 A.M. | Allbritton 311

    Prospective majors are invited to lunch with faculty and current majors and minors to learn about our department, our courses, and the requirements for our major and minor.

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    The Art and Politics of Truthtelling

    Thursday, October 25, 2018
    4:30 P.M. | PAC 001

    Elizabeth Castelli
    Professor of Religion and Interim Director of the Barnard Center for Research on Women at Barnard College

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    With its sacramental roots and promise of redemption to its cultural ubiquity in our contemporary moment, confession as a paradoxical performance in art and politics fascinates even as it inspires suspicion or irony. As we negotiate the receding terrain of the private in an age of life lived out loud, how can we understand the transformation of the confessional now played out on screen, on stage, in tabloids and literary reviews, art installations and performances, online and in real life? How does the study of religion help us parse the dynamics of secrecy and revelation at the heart of confessional culture?

    Cosponsors: Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and the Art History Department

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    In the Light of Reverence

    Film Screening
    Monday, October 15, 2018
    8:00 P.M. | Center for Film Studies

    Q&A with documentary filmmakers Christopher (Toby) McLeod and Jessica Abbe

    Read the write-up in the Argus.

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    Ten years in the making, In the Light of Reverence explores American culture’s relationship to na-ture in three places considered sacred by native peoples: the Colorado Plateau in the Southwest, Mount Shasta in California, and Devils Tower in Wyoming. Produced and Directed by Christopher McLeod. Co-Produced by Malinda Maynor. Written by Jessica Abbe. Edited by Will Parrinello. Narrated by Peter Coyote and Tantoo Cardinal. Educational Distributor: Bullfrog Films.

    Sponsored by the Religion Department, the Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment, the College of Film and the Moving Image, and the Indigenous Studies Research Network

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    Is Animism Good to Think With?

    Justine Quijada presents a talk as part of the COE's annual Where on Earth Are We Going? Robert F. Schumann Environmental Studies Symposium on Saturday, September 27, 2018. 

    Watch the video here!

    Photo credit: Laurie Kenney

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    Between the Dome of the Rock and a Hard Place: My Career as a Professional Muslim

    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2018
    4:30 P.M. | PAC 001 

    Muslim Studies Certificate Annual Lecture
    Cosponsored by the Religion Department

    Haroon Moghul
    Fellow in Jewish-Muslim Relations, Shalom Hartman INstitute

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    He was struggling to find a balance between his private doubts about Islam and his public role as president of the largest Muslim Students Association in Manhattan. And then, on September 11th, 2001, Haroon found himself thrust into a very uncomfortable spotlight, speaking for a religion he wasn't sure he believed in very much. Hear the story of American Islam in an era of rising polarization, about struggles with failed relationships, mental illness, and what it feels like to be an American when a lot of America voted you off the island.

    With support from the Religion Department, the American Studies Department, and the Center for the Americas