Posted by Sarah E. Dees
Posted by Cara Burnidge
In a series of late September interviews, Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson was asked about whether faith should matter in the running of the United States. When pressed further about what he meant by “consistent with the values and principles of America,” Carson said he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” In November, on the heels of Paris Attacks which killed 129 people, the specter of U.S. islamophobia arose again as Donald Trump and other GOP nominees were quick to declare they did not want Syrian refugees entering U.S. borders for fear of Trojan horse terrorists. And just earlier this month, suspicion arose when President Obama delivered a speech at a Baltimore mosque, the very first in his two terms in office. While the recent anxiety over Muslim “extremism” may not surprise many in our ‘War on Terror’ Age, the roots of this religious imaginary extend much earlier.
Karine Walther’s Sacred Interests: The United States and the Islamic World, 1821-1921, illuminates a series of transnational engagements which helped shape U.S. foreign policy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and which reveal the roots of a persistent racialization of Islam in America today. Walther examines four historical moments which shaped the U.S. gaze on the Islamic world: a) Greeks and Bulgarians under the Ottoman Empire and the influential philhellene movement in the U.S., b) Jewish persecution and Jewish American activism in Morocco, c) Filipino “Moros” and U.S. imperial rule in the Philippines, and d) Armenian persecutions leading up to World War I, the League of Nations, and the mandate system. This century-long account offers a story of U.S.-Islamic relations which blurs the often rigid boundaries between religion, race, civilization, and nationhood. Placed upon divergent ends of a hierarchical imagination, Walther not only shows how American’s viewed Islam but also how U.S. missionaries, religious organizations, businessmen, clergymen, diplomats, soldiers, and Presidents negotiated their own understandings of what it meant to be an American.
Posted by Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism
My dissertation examines Odawa Catholicism in the L’Arbre Croche region of northern Michigan as it was practiced in the absence of a priestly presence between 1765 and 1825. Part of my study addresses the effort to reestablish the Catholic mission at L’Arbre Croche in the 1820s. I argue that encroaching pressures from the American state and Protestant missionaries were contributing factors to the timing of this endeavor.
This work hinges on a very curious document: a petition from the Odawas of L’Arbre Croche to President James Monroe for a Catholic missionary. I argue that this letter, dated August 12, 1823, is one example of the Odawa Catholics of L’Arbre Croche using their Catholic history and identity to create a dialogue between themselves and the encroaching American state. Through the hand of a Catholic priest, Father Gabriel Richard, the Odawas were able to establish a line of communication with the American government to express their desires.  Although not initially effective, it made the Catholic hierarchy aware of the Odawa’s longing to reestablish an official Catholic presence and shaped future relations with the United States government.
Posted by Paul Putz
Today, February 19, is the deadline for submitting a paper or session proposal for the April 7-10 ASCH Spring Meeting in Edmonton, Alberta. I have it on good authority, however, that proposals will still be accepted over the weekend, so keep 'em coming. You'll find information about the conference and submission procedures at the ASCH website.
Posted by Karen Johnson
During the late 1970s, a Korean Christian movement began sending missionaries to evangelize white American university students in the United States. I recently read Rebecca Kim's new book The Spirit Moves West: Korean Missionaries in America (Oxford, 2015), which analyzes the history of this movement by looking at the history of University Bible Fellowship (UBF), one of the largest Korean missionary sending organization in South Korea.
"Wait, what?" you might say. "Korean missionaries trying to convert Americans?" That was my response when I first heard about Rebecca's project. When I pictured a Christian missionary, even though I was aware that the center of Christianity globally was shifting south, my image was a of white American or European going to a country like Korea.
Kim's fascinating book argues that the Koreans who came to America as missionaries did so self-consciously as Korean evangelicals. That is, although they came from a nation that Americans had evangelized, they were not carbon copies of American Christians. The way they practiced their faith reflected their particular social and historical contexts. They were born around the time of the Korean War and grew up in poor economic conditions under oppressive Cold War military regimes that targeted students. They practiced a Christian faith infused with Confucian notions of hierarchy, an emphasis on group-centered conformity, and adhered to military-like organizational structure. Most were laypeople, working as professionals in their 30s who were able to come to America after the nation's immigration policies opened up in 1965 with the Hart-Cellar Act. Outside of the work they did as "tent-makers" (the jobs that paid their bills), they spent nearly all their time doing cold-turkey evangelism among college students and leading those students in Bible studies. Weekends, holidays, and evenings were not time for these missionaries to relax or be with their children; they were the time to make disciples.
The students the missionaries targeted, however, were not other ethnic Koreans.
Protestant and Catholic: The Reformation in America
For more than thirty years the U.S. Catholic Historian has published theme-based issues relevant to the history of American Catholicism. In view of the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary, an upcoming issue will address the relationship of Protestants and Catholics in the United States. Contributions could include, but are not limited to, studies of the following:
- Ecumenical cooperation between Protestants and Catholics
- Supra-denominational efforts involving Protestants and Catholics prior to Vatican II
- Influences/impact of Catholicism on Protestant America and Protestantism on Catholic America
- Anti-Catholicism and/or anti-Protestantism
- Relationships between Catholic and Protestant clergy/hierarchy
Fr. David Endres
Editor, U.S. Catholic Historian
The deadline is fast approaching for panel proposals for the Society of U. S. Intellectual History's Eighth Annual Conference at Stanford, Oct. 13-15th. Recent S-USIH conferences have spotlighted excellent work in the field of American religion, and Stanford will be no different. The roundtable on Puritan studies--featuring David Hollinger, David Hall, Sara Rivett, Chris Beneke, and Mark Peterson--will itself be worth the price of admission. You can find out more about the conference details and how to submit a panel proposal here. Below is an overview of the plenaries and keynote address.
- Gender as a Tool of Analysis
- Feminist Thought
- Early America
- Nineteenth Century America
- History of Capitalism
Posted by Michael Graziano
|Justices Scalia and Ginsburg in India, 1994|
Here is the link, for those interested, for the fall Histories of Capitalism conference at Cornell, organized in part by my friend and outstanding cultural historian Larry Glickman. Larry writes that they are very interested in those looking at the intersection of religion and capitalism. Click the link and check it out. A little more info. below note that submissions for panels or papers are due by March 1.
Pondering the profundities of yesterday's Super Bowl and all its associated ballyhoo, I wiped the chicken wing sauce-dribble from my chin and thought of Mircea Eliade, J.Z. Smith, and the nature of metaphors. Not so much because the chicken wings, but because the "religion." Or, at least, what some might call religion.
There are always the religious athletes, the tattoos, and the pre-game prayers. But I'm talking about something different, something more second-order. Namely, the conceptualization of football in religious terms. Players, fans, commentators, and even academics. It's everywhere (and not just in football). Stadium-cathedrals. Umpire-priests. Fan-believers. Player-gods. Game-day pilgrimages. Various and sundry superstitious rituals. Game-chant liturgies. Prodigal-son-athletes. Rule-doctrines. Nacho-sacraments and whatnot. So let's do some abbreviated theorizing here.
Posted by Samira K. Mehta
Bruce Dorsey, Professor of History at Swarthmore College, received the 2015-2016 LGBT Religious History Award for his paper "Making Men What They Should Be: Male Same-Sex Intimacy and Evangelical Religion in Nineteenth-Century New England" published in the Journal of the History of Sexuality (September 2015).
Judith Weisenfeld, Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion at Princeton University, received an honorable mention for her paper, "'Real True Buds:' Celibacy and Same-Sex Desire Across the Color Line in Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement."
The formal announcement of their awards can be found here and a press release with descriptions of their respective work can be found here.
Congratulations to Bruce Dorsey and Judith Weisenfeld!
Dates: September 13-14, 2016.
Venue: Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
Amongst the post-war Christian movements for renewal, revival or reform, charismatic renewal (sometimes known as neo-Pentecostalism or the ‘second wave’) has been highly significant. Expanding rapidly it displayed various denominational and national trajectories but also ecumenical and transnational networks. Its influence was felt within the historic ‘mainline’ Churches, where it became more or less welcome. It also resulted in new denominations and expressions of church, and in some places new theological, organizational and practical emphases. Taking root within both evangelical and ‘sacramental’ Christianity, its characteristics included Pentecostal experiences and gifts; ecumenical engagement; fresh expressions of worship, liturgy, music and creative arts; radical approaches to community life. From a contemporary vantage point, the movement has been transformative in a variety of denominational and geographical contexts: it has contributed to a fresh and vibrant stream of Christianity, including within global traditions such as Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism.
Despite the historical importance of this diverse movement, relatively few historians of religion have engaged substantively with it. What has been meant by ‘renewal’ as an emic term and etic category? Indeed, was there a coherent charismatic renewal ‘movement’? What has been its relationship with society and culture? How did theologies and practices change over time? What was the significance of different leaders, organisations, networks or grassroots manifestations?
This conference invites historically-based research papers on all aspects of the charismatic renewal between c. 1950 and 2000. Possible topics might include its:
- Emergences and antecedents;
- Historiographies; hagiographies; narratives and ‘myths’;
- Relationships with Pentecostals/Pentecostalism, healing and revivalist movements;
- Denominational or ecumenical national and transnational networks;
- Trajectories within denominations (locally, nationally, and transnationally);
- Internal (e.g. Shepherding movement) or external (e.g. cessationist) controversies;
- Theologies and spiritualities; integration with rites and patterns of worship;
- Connection to indigenizing and synthesizing practices and theologies
- Embodiments and practices;
- Materialities; engagement with culture and the arts;
- Attitudes towards gender and sexuality;
- Use of aural and visual media.
Cost: £75/person (including food, accommodation), £50 for post-graduate students. Information on alternative rates available on request. Please send initial booking enquiries to John.email@example.com.
The Religious Studies Department of Northwestern University invites graduate student papers for a conference on “Specters, Hauntings, Presences,” to be held in Evanston, Illinois on October 7-9, 2016. We request abstracts by April 15, 2016.
Through this conference, we aim to foster dialogue about religio-cultural forces that are as elusive as they are powerful. The central theme invites a variety of approaches and topics. We seek papers on presences invisible, otherworldly, esoteric, uncanny, monstrous, or mysterious. We also invite papers that explore the specters of politics, economics, and colonialism in connection with religion. Overall, the conference aims to question the concept of disenchantment—as method, as theory, as history. Some examples of possible paper topics include: Chinese hungry ghosts, “enchantment” in colonial modernity, Afro-Caribbean spirit possession, capitalism’s hauntings, golems in Jewish thought, presences in digital or mediated religion, and specters of the future (threatening or inspiring). Such diverse topics will bring together academic discussions about hauntology, neo-colonialism, critical race theory, transhumanism, modernity, identity politics, affect, materiality, mysticism, and popular culture. We seek burgeoning scholars from religious studies, cultural studies, literature and media studies, anthropology, performance studies, and history for this robustly interdisciplinary conference.
Keynote speakers: Arvind-Pal S. Mandair, Associate Professor and S.C.S.B Endowed Professor of Sikh Studies at the University of Michigan John Modern, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College Wonhee Anne Joh, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Submission: Presentations should not exceed fifteen minutes in length and may approach the topic from any discipline or methodology.
Please send a 500-word abstract, along with your name, institution, and year of study to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15, 2016. Decisions will be communicated by the beginning of June.
Visit the Specters, Hauntings, Presences website for more information.
As I prepare to defend my dissertation, I thought it might be useful to share the tools I found helpful during the research and writing process. I enjoyed these kinds of posts when I was starting my diss. I hope this post will be helpful to others in the same place.
When I started the research process, I spent a lot of time scouring the web for suggestions on setting up good academic workflows. In particular, I was interested in programs that would help me acquire sources in the archive, organize the material in useful ways, and make the writing process more efficient. I wanted to have a process already in place to accommodate the large amount of archival material I expected to gather. I was looking for apps that were inexpensive (if not free) and easy to use.
Posted by Andrew McKee
Lately, maybe because I have a paper deadline soon, I have been thinking a lot about “New Religious Movements.” Among the tens of library books I have checked-out and pretended to read, nearly all reference UFO religions, but few give sustained looks at these movements. If ancient aliens has taught us anything, which (spoiler alert: it has) it is Americans love a good UFO conspiracy theory. Except when they don't. Except when groups invested in UFO theories enter the realm of the "cult." Perhaps the most famous group, at least of late, to be accused of being a cult, is Heaven's Gate, a group that while popular in NRM books, has received less analysis in many circles. Enter Benjamin E. Zeller’s Heaven’s Gate: Americas UFO Religion (New York Press, 2014), the first, and only, book-length treatment of the Heaven’s Gate movement.
Posted by Pete Cajka
Posted by Lincoln Mullen
In my last post I explained that historians of U.S. religion have barely begun to scratch the surface of the data (meaning, sources that are amenable to computation) that are available to them. To demonstrate this I gave the example of a single source, the Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In this post I want to attempt a very preliminary taxonomy of the kinds of sources that are available to religious historians who wish to use mapping or quantitative analysis of some kind or another. Let’s call this a taxonomy instead of a catalog, because I’m going to list the kinds of sources that I’ve come about rather than try to give a bibliography of all of the sources themselves. I’d love to be able to list all the sources, but I haven’t done all that work yet. And let’s say this is very preliminary, because I hope this post is an example of the so-called Cunningham’s Law: “the best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.” That is to say, if you know of a source or category of source that I don’t know about, I hope you’ll correct me in the comments. Finally, I should mention that I’m teaching a course this semester on “Data and Visualization in Digital History” where we are working on nineteenth-century U.S. religious statistics. I’m indebted to the excellent students in that course, who have already turned up many sources that I didn’t know about.
Enough throat clearing.
All U.S. religious statistics are divided into two parts, those from the Census, and those not from the Census.