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Final Performance for “Dance & Embodied Knowledge” Course


On Saturday, December 2nd, students in the course RELI/ASIA/COMM 386, “Dance & Embodied Knowledge in the Indian Context,” held their final performance. This course, taught by Prof. Harshita Kamath, combines discussions of Indian aesthetic theory, Hindu religious narratives, and performance theory with instruction in the basic movements of the South Indian classical dance style of Kuchipudi. As part of the course, students spent the semester learning the piece Narayaniyam in the Kuchipudi style, which they performed on Saturday in full costume with dance bells. See below for pictures from the event:









Posted in Undergraduate Accomplishments on December 6, 2017  

Study Abroad: 2018 Huqoq Excavations with Jodi Magness

UNC students

Since 2011, Prof. Jodi Magness has led archaeological excavations at the site of Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee, where she and her team have garnered international attention for their discovery of an ancient synagogue building with stunning mosaic floors. She is returning to Huqoq in summer 2018 and invites students to participate in the excavation through UNC’s Study Abroad program.

This coming season, the excavations will take place May 31–July 2, 2018. The deadline to apply for the program is February 14, 2018. The field school program (CLAR 650) offers students 6 hours of academic credit.

For more information, including instructions for the online application, see the UNC Study Abroad link here. You can also see the excavation website at

Posted in Faculty News, News & Events on December 1, 2017  
Spring 2018 Course Posters

Spring 2018 registration begins on Nov. 6th (see the Registrar’s website for more information).
Below are the posters describing our Spring 2018 course offerings (click on each poster for a PDF version):


Posted in News & Events on November 6, 2017  
Introduction to New Religious Movements (Spring 2018 Course)

In Spring 2018, Prof. Yaakov Ariel will be teaching RELI 242, Introduction to New Religious Movements, a course that relates to one of his ongoing research interests. See below for a video describing the course:

For more course introduction videos, see here, or go to our YouTube channel.

We will also be holding an undergraduate Course Fair on Tuesday, November 7, at 11:30am in Carolina Hall 124. For more information, see here.

Posted in News & Events on October 29, 2017  
Sex, Gender, and Religion in South Asia (Spring 2018 Course)

Another Spring 2018 course we would like to feature is RELI 482, Sex, Gender, and Religion in South Asia, taught by Professor Harshita Kamath. See the video below for a description of the course:

Two of the theoretical works mentioned in the video can be previewed in the links below:
Gender Trouble, by Judith Butler
The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, by Michel Foucault

For more course introduction videos, see here.

Posted in News & Events on October 26, 2017  
Katie Merriman Featured on NBC Asian America

Katie Merriman, a Ph.D. candidate in Islamic Studies in our department, is the founder of Muslim History Tours NYC, a walking tour of Harlem, New York covering important locations related to Muslim history in the city. (This was previously covered on our website here.)

Katie was just featured in a video on NBC discussing the tour:

The video can also be found here. Wonderful work, Katie!

Posted in Graduate Student News on October 22, 2017  
New Book by Joanne Seiff (M.A., 2001)

SeiffJoanne Seiff (M.A., 2001), a product of our graduate program in Religious Studies, is now a writer based in Winnipeg, Canada, whose opinion pieces appear on the CBC website. Her work on topics in Jewish Studies have also appeared in the Jewish Post & News as well as the Vancouver Jewish Independent. She recently published a book, titled From the Outside In, consisting of a collection of her newspaper columns. A helpful review of the book has recently appeared here. From the review (by Cynthia Ramsay):

“Two things will immediately strike readers of From the Outside In: Jewish Post & News Columns, 2015-2016 by Joanne Seiff – Seiff’s knowledge of Judaism and her empathy. She really knows her Jewish texts, as well as a thing or two about human nature. Yet, she doesn’t criticize from on high. She’s right in there in the muck, so to speak, not just making suggestions for others to carry out, but trying to play a positive role herself in whatever transformations she thinks might engage more Jews in Judaism and in community. Her heart is in the right place, and it shows.”

To read more of Joanne’s writing, see her blog here. For more on the book, click here.

Congratulations, Joanne!

Posted in Alumni News on October 20, 2017  

Religion and Science (Spring 2018 Course)

The next Spring 2018 course we would like to highlight is RELI 421, Religion and Science, taught by Nathan Schradle. Click the video below for a description of the course:

For information on the course textbook mentioned in the video, click here (The Territories of Science and Religion by Peter Harrison).

For more course introduction videos, see here.

Posted in News & Events on October 18, 2017  
Catholicism Today: Introduction to Contemporary Catholicism (Spring 2018 Course)

We are pleased to unveil a new feature on our website: course introduction videos! These videos are meant to give students a more personal introduction to some of our upcoming courses through the voices of our professors. Watch for these videos on the homepage of our website in the coming weeks, as Spring 2018 registration approaches.

The first course we would like to highlight is RELI 162, Catholicism Today: Introduction to Contemporary Catholicism. Click the video below for a description of the course from Professor Evyatar Marienberg:

For more course introduction videos, see here.

Posted in News & Events on October 13, 2017  
Departmental Statement on Silent Sam

Statement by the UNC Chapel Hill Department of Religious Studies concerning “Silent Sam”
October 4, 2017

It is impossible to study religion without recognizing the importance of cultural, social, and political diversity, the enormous power of material objects, and the profound ways in which the past pervades the present. The Confederate monument known as “Silent Sam” exerts the ongoing power of white supremacy on our campus. As religious studies scholars, we are particularly aware that it was erected as an icon of social inequity and that white nationalist groups today have invested its presence on campus with sacred value.

In his 1913 speech dedicating the statue, Julian S. Carr celebrated the “sacrifice” of Confederate soldiers, the purity of “the Anglo Saxon” as a “Christian race,” and God’s providential blessing of the southern states in order to sanctify racial violence, a violence that continues today against racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. “Silent Sam” still enjoys the privilege of sacred space on this campus, not only raised high but also guarded by cameras, police, and sometimes barricades. Allowing this statue to remain in McCorkle Place contradicts the university’s policy on non-discrimination, which states that “The University is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment.”

In her August 30th, 2017 email, Chancellor Carol Folt called on the campus community to “promote robust dialogue and debate” in an effort to encourage and protect free speech. In order to demonstrate its sincere commitment to the freedom of expression, the University must end its policies curtailing student activism around the statue and throughout the campus. Their material, embodied, and creative counter-narratives provide a vital service in challenging the legacy and ongoing threat of white supremacy.

The Department of Religious Studies calls for the removal of “Silent Sam” from McCorkle Place and the full protection of the student activists’ freedom of political expression.

Posted in News & Events on October 9, 2017  
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