UNC Expedition in Nepal with Professor Lauren Leve
A team of scholars from across disciplines traveled to Nepal to study the impacts of climate change on Buddhist holy lakes. The interdisciplinary team included two mathematicians (Department Chair Rich McLaughlin and Roberto Camassa), a marine scientist (Harvey Seim), and Religious Studies Professor Lauren Leve.
Image from UNC College of Arts & Sciences Magazine
“Leve laid the groundwork for interviewing local people about their understanding of the impacts of climate change. She also became a critical cultural translator when the group ran into major roadblocks days into the research expedition. Negotiating with the competing parties involved in granting research permissions fell right in line with her research, which looks at religion as a window into understanding cultural change.”
Dr. Zlatko Pleše appointed Adjunct Professor at the University of Bern
The University of Bern, Switzerland has appointed Dr. Zlatko Pleše as an Adjunct Professor at the Institute of New Testament Studies. This is a three-year appointment, through August 31st, 2021. Dr. Pleše specializes in ancient philosophy and medicine, early Christianity, Hellenistic rhetoric and hermeneutics, and Coptic language, and he will be continuing this research with Prof. Rainer Hirsch-Luipold at the University of Bern.
New forum on Divine Fatherhood on the Immanent Frame by Professor Juliane Hammer
Dr. Juliane Hammer has co-convened a forum on Divine Fatherhood alongside scholars from varied disciplinary backgrounds, with a wide array of regional and religious expertise. The forum, Divine Fatherhood, is currently being hosted by the Social Science Research Council.
The forum reflects on what it means to treat fathers as God-like and what it means to treat God as father-like. Forum pieces will dive into the topic of unexpected linking of gods and fathers drawing from examples in feminist theory and practice, including the the erotics of divine fatherhood from purity balls to Beyoncé’s ambiguous “Daddy.”
In honor of the scholarly contributions of Dr. James Fisher to scholarship in the region, the Fisher Prize honors books which contribute an innovative and lucid written account of Himalayan studies research. Professor Leve shares the prize with Sarah Shneiderman, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
Professor Leve’s book chronicles how Theravada Buddhism has grown to have a significant presence in Nepal, especially among Newar communities of Kathmandu. The ANHS announcement includes the following statement: “Besides being a pleasure to read, the book’s significance lies in its ethnographic treatment of families adopting religious tenets which help them adjust to the contemporary changes of late modernity and neoliberal globalization.”
Bart Ehrman on “Faith in Our Lives: Why We Follow” and “The Triumph of Christianity”
On March 10, PlayMakers Repertory Company hosted a symposium, “Faith in Our Lives: Why We Follow,” with UNC’s Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, and Robert M. Franklin, Jr., James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Prof. Ehrman and Prof. Franklin discussed how faith and belief serve us both personally and collectively, as well as what may be at risk when doctrine plays too little or too large a role in our lives. The symposium was moderated by Adam Versényi, Chair of UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art and Dramaturg for PlayMakers Repertory Company.
The latest book by Carl Ernst, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, is a volume of his essays titled It’s Not Just Academic! Essays on Sufism and Islamic Studies (Sage, 2017). From the Sage Publishing website:
“This collection of articles by Carl W. Ernst summarizes over 30 years of research, recovering and illuminating remarkable examples of Islamic culture that have been largely overlooked, if not forgotten. It opens with reflections on teaching Islam, focusing on major themes such as Sufism, the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, and Arabic literature. The importance of public scholarship and the questionable opposition between Islam and the West are also addressed. The articles that follow explore multiple facets of Sufism, the ethical and spiritual tradition that has flourished in Muslim societies for over a thousand years. The cumulative effect is to move away from static Orientalist depictions of Sufism and Islam through a series of vivid and creative case studies.”
“I cannot assert strongly enough the groundbreaking moves made in Negotiating Respect. Thornton challenges our now settled critical orthodoxies as what counts as radical and subversive scholarship by taking seriously the diverse practices of Caribbean Christianity…. The stakes for the field of Caribbean studies are high. Thornton asks us to complicate our reading of quotidian religious practices: so, that we might see that ‘the church has become more norm than exception, more local than foreign, more orthodox than heterodox, more accepted than disdained.’”
The latest book by Randall Styers, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, is a volume of collected essays (co-edited with Edward Bever of SUNY Old Westbury) titled Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017). In addition to co-editing the entire volume, Prof. Styers contributes an essay to the collection on “Bad Habits, or, How Superstition Disappeared in the Modern World.” From the Penn State University Press website:
“This collection of essays considers the place of magic in the modern world, first by exploring the ways in which modernity has been defined in explicit opposition to magic and superstition, and then by illuminating how modern proponents of magic have worked to legitimize their practices through an overt embrace of evolving forms such as esotericism and supernaturalism.
“Taking a two-track approach, this book explores the complex dynamics of the construction of the modern self and its relation to the modern preoccupation with magic. Essays examine how modern ‘rational’ consciousness is generated and maintained and how proponents of both magical and scientific traditions rationalize evidence to fit accepted orthodoxy. This book also describes how people unsatisfied with the norms of modern subjectivity embrace various forms of magic—and the methods these modern practitioners use to legitimate magic in the modern world.”
The volume also includes a contribution by one of our PhD alumni, Megan Goodwin, titled “Manning the High Seat: Seidr as Self-Making in Contemporary Norse Neopaganisms.”
Online Symposium on David Lambert’s How Repentance Became Biblical
Syndicate Network, an online forum for facilitating conversations on topics in the humanities, is currently hosting an online symposium on Prof. David Lambert’s award-winning book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2016).
The symposium consists of critical reviews of the book by four scholars of different theoretical perspectives, with subsequent responses by Prof. Lambert leading to further back-and-forth dialogue. This format allows for an in-depth, illuminating exploration of the many issues that the book raises.
The online symposium can be found here. Currently the site has posted the responses of Joel Kaminsky (Smith College) and Susanne Scholz (Southern Methodist University); the responses of Reed Carlson (Harvard Divinity School) and Jeffrey Stackert (University of Chicago) are still to come.