On Wednesday, April 24, our department held its last McLester Colloquium of the academic year. The speaker was Dr. Rebecca Anne Goetz, Associate Professor of History at NYU and a current fellow at the National Humanities Center, who lectured on “‘The Unbridled Greed of the Conquistadors’: Native Enslavement in the Southern Caribbean, 1498-1545.” The meeting capped off a wonderful series of McLester lectures in 2018-19, and we are already looking forward to next year!
On Wednesday, April 17, our department held two events celebrating the achievements of our students and faculty.
The first was an Honors Event that recognized the undergraduate students who completed a Senior Honors Thesis this year as well as those seniors whose academic excellence was sufficient to earn membership into Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honors Society for students in the fields of religious studies and theology. The Honors Thesis writers each gave a description of their research, while the Theta Alpha Kappa inductees received certificates, pins, and cords to mark their achievement.
The second was our annual Awards Ceremony, in which we acknowledged the various achievements of our undergraduates, graduate students, as well as faculty. This year we had a number of honored guests, including former faculty members in our department, who joined to add special meaning to the ceremony. A great time was had by all.
Andrew Aghapour, a graduate of our department (PhD 2017) with a creative background in comedy, improv, and storytelling in addition to his academic work, has developed a one person show called Zara that he will be performing at a series of events in Chapel Hill this spring. From the show’s website:
Zara is a one person show about race, religion, and identity in the American South. Andrew Aghapour was raised by immigrant parents in a multi-racial and multi-religious household. Zara is a comedic account of an anxious, asthmatic Muslim kid’s search for meaning and the chance encounters that impacted him, including a friendship with the man who mugged him and a love affair with marijuana. Drawing on personal stories, philosophy, and the history of monotheism, Zara is a story about how identity is inherited and remade in 21st-century America.
For a detailed schedule of the events at UNC, including both performances and workshops, see here.
Posted in Alumni News, Events on March 5, 2019. Bookmark the permalink.
On Wednesday, February 20, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Jeffrey Stout, Professor Emeritus of Religion at Princeton University, for a meeting of our McLester Colloquium. His lecture was titled “Goodness beyond Melodrama: Compassionate Awareness in Ozu’s Tokyo Story,” and explored a film by Ozu Yasuji that is regularly ranked among the greatest films of all time. In addition to being co-sponsored by the Institute for Arts and Humanities, the Carolina Asia Center, and the Departments of Asian Studies and English & Comparative Literature, this talk also served as the second lecture in the American Academy of Religion’s 2019 American Lectures in the History of Religion, in which Dr. Stout explores–through a series of five lectures in North Carolina Triangle/Triad Region–the theme of “The Cinematic Sacred.” We are grateful for the opportunity to host Dr. Stout for this event and for the discussion that his presentation generated!
On Wednesday, February 6, we held our annual RELI Majors Dinner in Graham Memorial Hall. This event brings together a group of our current undergraduate majors along with faculty and graduate students over a delicious meal, great conversation, and a shared sense of how we have been enriched through the field of religious studies. This year we were especially fortunate to be joined by Brigid Grabert, a former RELI grad and now a doctoral candidate at UNC’s Gillings School of Public Health. A great time was had by all!
On Wednesday, January 30, our department was pleased to welcome Dr. Elizabeth Pérez as the speaker for our first McLester Colloquium of the Spring semester. Dr. Pérez, who is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, is a specialist in Afro-Diasporic and Latin American religions. Her first book, titled Religion in the Kitchen: Cooking, Talking, and the Making of Black Atlantic Traditions (New York University Press, 2016), which was based on years of ethnographic research within a Lucumí community on the South Side of Chicago, examined practices surrounding the preparation of food for the gods and spirits within these traditions, arguing that they deserve analysis as religious rituals in their own right. This book was widely acclaimed, having won both the 2017 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion and the 2018 Women’s Spirituality Book Award, as well as being a finalist for the 2017 Albert J. Raboteau Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions.
Her presentation at the McLester seminar was based on the research from this first book, and was richly illustrated with slides drawn from her ethnographic work. The lecture generated a lively and intellectually stimulating conversation afterwards. We look forward to the next McLester Colloquium!
Posted in Events, Graduate Student News on February 7, 2019. Bookmark the permalink.
On Wednesday, October 24th, Dr. Joel Baden of Yale Divinity School joined us for our second McLester Seminar. He spoke about his latest book, Bible Nation: the United States of Hobby Lobby, co-authored with Dr. Candida Moss, Professor at the University of Birmingham. His talk focused on the rise of the millionaires behind Hobby Lobby, their unparalleled acquisition of biblical antiquities for their Museum of the Bible, and the role and responsibility of academics in approaching this as a subject of study. As usual, the lecture was followed by casual conversation over refreshments.
Looking forward to the next McLester Colloquium!
Posted in Events, Graduate Student News, News & Events on October 31, 2018. Bookmark the permalink.
Professor Su’ad Abdul Khabeer joined us for the the first of our McLester Colloquia for the Fall semester. Dr. Abdul Khabeer is Associate Professor of American Culture and Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan and received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Princeton University. She is a scholar-artist-activist who uses anthropology and performance to explore the intersections of race and popular culture.
Dr. Abdul Khabeer’s talk included both prose and performance. She explored what the Black Muslim experience – belief, cultural practice, and intellectual thought – offers theoretically, methodologically and for political praxis within and outside the academy. The talk, directed towards graduate students, focused on the evolution of her research from Muslim Cool to umisarchive.com, and illustrated how personal family history can inform the approach to the history of Islam in America.
The lecture was thought-provoking and generated questions and responses from the faculty and graduate students present. As usual, the lecture was followed by a time of casual conversation over refreshments.
Looking forward to the next McLester Colloquium!
Posted in Events, Graduate Student News, News & Events on September 25, 2018. Bookmark the permalink.
On Thursday, March 22, Dr. David Frankfurter joined us for our McLester Colloquium to speak on “Ancient Magic in a New Key: Refining an Exotic Discipline in the History of Religions.” Dr. Frankfurter is William Goodwin Aurelio Chair of the Appreciation of Scripture at Boston University.
In his talk, Dr. Frankfurter reconsidered the ways that “magic” has been embraced and treated in the study of Early Christianity. In his lecture, he subsequently advocated both a more rigorous approach to indigenous evaluations of ambiguous ritual and a more confident “etic” or descriptive use of the category magic. The fascinating lecture generated many questions and responses from the faculty and graduate students present and was followed by casual conversation over refreshments.
Posted in Events, Graduate Student News, News & Events on March 26, 2018. Bookmark the permalink.
On March 2, Dr. J. Derrick Lemons from the University of Georgia came to speak on the topic of how millennials read the Bible regarding the issue of same sex marriage. The talk was co-sponsored by the Department of Women and Gender Studies, the Program in Sexuality Studies, and the Provost’s Committee on LGBTQ life. Students who attended were highly engaged, as shown by their many questions after the talk and by the fact that the room was literally overflowing.
On March 22, Dr. Jennifer Eichman of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London was featured for our last McLester Colloquium of this academic year. The lecture was titled “Women and Animals: Culinary Dilemmas and Karmic Entanglements,” and the talk explored issues surrounding women, Buddhist attitudes toward the eating of meat, and societal changes in China after the end of imperial rule. This event was similarly well attended and offered another opportunity for faculty and students to interact over a topic of critical interest in religious studies.