UNC Religious Studies at AAR/SBL 2011

Members of the Religious Studies department facilitated, presented, and acted as respondents at this year’s joint national meeting of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature.

Friday, 18 November

Jenna Tiitsman presided over the Religion and Media Workshop, “What’s Next for Texts: Scripting Religion in a Networked World.”  Juliane Hammer served as a panelist.

Saturday, 19 November

In the first session, Jenna Tiitsman presented on the Religion, Media, and Culture Group’s “Surveying Our Understanding of Digital Religion” panel.  Jill Peterfeso presented on the Mormon Studies Group’s “Mormon Women and Modernity” panel.

In the afternoon, Brannon Ingram presented on the Islamic Mysticism Group’s “‘It’s Not Made By Great Men’: Sufism Understood from the Side of the People” panel. This group’s business meeting was presided over by Omid Safi. Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst presented on the Religion and Colonialism Group’s “Defining Religion in Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial Contexts” panel. Megan Goodwin presented on the North American Religions Section’s “Rethinking Key Paradigms in American Religion: ‘Black Church’, ‘Queering Religion’, ‘Nature Religion’ and ‘Material Culture’.” panel.

David Lambert presented on a Biblical Lexicography panel themed “50 Years of Barr’s Semantics in Biblical Language.” Matthew J. Grey presented on a Levites and Priests in History and Tradition panel. Benjamin White presided over a panel on Teaching Biblical Studies in an Undergraduate Liberal Arts Context, on which Jason A. Staples was a panelist.

Sunday, 20 November

In the morning session, Juliane Hammer responded to the Study of Islam Section’s panel on “Islamic/Muslim Marriage in Discourse and Practice.” Brandi Denison presented on the Religion in the American West Seminar’s “Land, Identity, and Transnational Wests” panel. Jill Peterfeso presented on the Religion and Sexuality Group’s “Contesting Bodies, Configuring Sexuality” panel. Rose Aslan presented on the Space, Place, and Religious Meaning Group’s “Spatial Theory and Religion” panel. And David Lambert presented on the Book of Job for a panel on Wisdom in Israelite and Cognate Traditions.

In the afternoon, Jenna Tiitsman presided over the Religion, Media, and Culture Group’s “Production of Religion: Making Nations, Technologies, Ideologies, and Other Spectacles” panel. Barbara Ambros presided over the Japanese Religions Group’s “Recontextualizing Japanese Religions in Popular Culture” panel. And Bart Ehrman presented on a panel titled: “What is the Future of Biblical Studies in Academia? Questions, Challenges, Visions.”

In the evening, Bart Ehrman presented on a panel on Believers, Scholars, and Culture: Assessing the Impact of Two Centuries of Critical Biblical Scholarship.

Monday, 21 November

In the morning session, Matthew Hotham presented on the Comparative Studies in Religion Section’s “Comparative Grammars of Ineffability” panel. Carl Ernst presided over a joint panel between the Study of Islam Section and the Islamic Mysticism Group, themed: “Sufism after the ‘Linguistic Turn’.” Yaakov Ariel presented on the Study of Judaism Section’s panel on “American Judaisms.” Shannon Harvey presented on the New Religious Movements Group’s panel on “Religious Appropriation of Secular Culture.” John-Charles Duffy presented on a joint panel between the Death, Dying, and Beyond Group and the Mormon Studies Group, themed: “Death and Beyond in the Mormon Tradition.”

In the afternoon, Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst presented on the Comparative Studies of Religion Section’s panel “Other People’s Scriptures: The Use of Sacred Texts across Religious Boundaries.” Kathleen Foody presented on a panel called “Pious Publics/Critical Publics: Theologies of Self and State in Contemporary Islam,” co-sponsored by the Contemporary Islam and Liberal Theologies Groups. Jenna Tiitsman presented on the Philosophy of Religion Section’s panel on “Affect, Passion, and Rationality.” Bart Ehrman was respondent to a paper on a panel about the Extent of Theological Diversity in Earliest Christianity themed “Gospels in the Second Century.”

Carl Ernst presented on a panel titled “Mughal Bhakti: Devotees, Sufis, Yogis, and Literati in Early Modern North India,” cosponsored by the Religion in South Asia Section and the Hinduism Group. David Lambert presented on the Cultural History of the Study of Religion Group’s “‘Religion’: Contexts for Its Emergence” panel, and the following business meeting was presided over by Randall Styers.

Shenandoah Nieuwsma presented on the Religion, Medicines, and Healing Group’s “Spirituality and the Medicalization of Religion in Mental Health Care” panel. And Barbara Ambros presided over the business meeting for the Japanese Religions Group.

Tuesday, 22 November

During the last session of the conference, Anne Blankenship presented on the History of Christianity Section’s panel on “Interreligious Conflict in the History of Christianity: Modern Examples.” Randal Styers presided over the North American Religions Section’s panel on “Industrial Effervescence: Manufacturing Economic Selves and Producing Religious Collectivity in American Religious History.” Jason C. Bivins (adjunct) was the respondent for this panel. And Jessica Boon presented on the Queer Studies in Religion Group’s panel on “Queerly Rereading Texts and Traditions.”

Japanese new religions’ role in disaster response

Dr. Barbara Ambros, associate professor of Religious Studies and president of the Society for the Study of Japanese Religions contributed an opinion piece to CNN’s Belief Blog on the responses of Japanese new religions to the recent crises.

“Since this month’s earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, other types of organized aid networks have…largely been neglected by the news media, including the Japanese news: those managed by religious organizations,” Ambros said.  “Since the March 11 earthquake and the resulting tsunami, many new religions have mounted extensive aid campaigns.”

Ambros further noted that “a characteristic feature of Japan’s new religions is having well-organized lay organizations and networks, making them effective channels for providing aid.”

Read more here.

Rep. King misreads UNC Terrorism Study

Photo by Jason SmithDr. Charles Kurzman, UNC Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, recently clarified the findings of his February 2011 study, “Muslim-American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting.”

Kurzman responded to the remarks of US Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, who questioned the impartiality of Kurzman’s study during an appearance on the 9 March edition of CBS’ Early Show.

Kurzman’s statement, featured on the College of Arts & Sciences‘ website, highlights at some length Rep. King’s misreading of the study’s findings.  Kurzman insisted that his study was neither skewed nor biased, noting: “[the study] was the product of a good-faith, scholarly research project to list all Muslim-American terrorism suspects and perpetrators from September 12, 2001, to December 31, 2010. No cases were included or excluded on the basis of ideological criteria.”

Kurzman will appear on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” tomorrow, 10 March 2011, to respond further to the controversial congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims.

Read Kurzman’s full response to Rep. King here.

“The Diane Rehm Show” is available streaming via WUNC here.

Reactions to congressional hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in America,