MemberCharlotte Lilith Magdalene

My research is currently concerned with how ritual and trauma inform each other in the lives of adults, specifically those engaged with BDSM communities. I am interested in how adults who have experienced trauma may begin to integrate this into parts of their lives beyond clinical therapy, utilising creative spaces to explore traumatic themes. Interaction ritual theory is central to my interpretation of the dynamics I research, as is exploring the unique chronologies which (dis)organise traumatic memories. I believe that trauma and BDSM can be studied in conjunction with each other without further pathologising this already marginalised community. BDSM has been chosen as a site of inquiry not because participants are typically traumatised; they are not. Rather, because BDSM communities strive to foster cultures of informed consent, crystalline communication, freedom of expression, and empathy, qualities which contribute to a solid environment within which to explore interaction rituals and trauma. I favour queer and crip approaches within my work.

MemberLucas A. Wolf

I am a PhD. candidate pursuing my doctorate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese) in the School of International Letters and Cultures at ASU.  My research interest lays in modes of practice of religious Daoism during the latter half of the first millennium of the Common Era (including issues of ritual practice, identity, community, and interactions with Buddhism). My research goal is to help untangle the complex connections between Daoist ritual practices in the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) with their later expressions in the Northern and Southern Song dynasties (960-1279 CE).  In particular, I am concerned with the rise of a new class of practitioner, the “ritual masters of summoning and interrogation” (kaozhao fashi 考召法師), itinerant ritual specialists who specialized in healing and exorcism through the mastery of a series of daemonifugic rites.  I am also interested in the expression of religious elements in the poetry and prose of the period, in particular how such works reimagine and recreate earlier narratives to fit contemporary religious and secular concerns.

MemberTravis Proctor

I am an Assistant Professor of Religion at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. I teach courses in Christian Origins & History, Religion & Gender, Religion & Nature, and the interrelated histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. My current research explores early Christian theorizations of nonhuman bodies – particularly those of evil “demons” – and how such conceptualizations impacted the construction and ritual performance of the early Christian body. My other research interests include topics in gender/sexuality studies, ecocriticism, posthumanism, and ritual studies.

MemberDaniel Murray

I currently am teaching in the department of East Asian Studies at McGill University, where I also received my PhD. I research religion and urbanization in modern China with an emphasis on space and sensation. My current project is entitled Urban Temples and Ritual Affects: Daoist Masters, Local Gods, and Communal Temples in Modern Xiamen.

MemberSamuel Torjman Thomas

Samuel Torjman Thomas is an ethnomusicologist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer working from within Jazz and North African-Middle Eastern traditions. As artistic director of the New York Andalus Ensemble and ASEFA, he journeys through a lush Mediterranean garden of songs in Hebrew, Arabic, Ladino, and Spanish, highlighting intercultural exchange in the expressive musical arts of the region. His work brings audiences into worlds of Jewish song traditions – Sephardi piyyutim (poetry), wordless Chassidic niggunim, Klezmer music and dance, and liturgy. Dr. Torjman Thomas teaches music, interdisciplinary studies, and Sephardic Studies at the City University of New York, including courses on world music, American vernacular musics and jazz history, religious studies, ethnic studies, and diaspora studies. He is a frequent guest speaker at cultural institutions, universities, and in multi-denominational ecumenical spaces worldwide.

MemberBryan Lowe

I specialize in East Asian religions with a focus on Buddhism in ancient Japan (seventh through ninth centuries). In the most general terms, my research challenges elite-centered narratives that have dominated scholarship on Japanese Buddhism and religious studies more broadly. In contrast, I study Buddhism as it was lived and practiced by individuals and communities from diverse backgrounds. My research and teaching are interdisciplinary; I engage scholarship in history, art history, literature, political science, and book history to explore issues related to ritual studies, material culture, and religion and the state. My award-winning first book, Ritualized Writing: Buddhist Practice and Scriptural Cultures in Ancient Japan, examines the ritual practice of transcribing Buddhist scriptures (sutras). It questions the standard historical narratives of Japanese Buddhism, which have focused exclusively on the ways the state regulated and utilized religion for ideological purposes in the eighth century. Instead, I highlight the activities of individuals from a range of social classes and geographic regions in Japan to show that Buddhist practice was not limited to the throne and fulfilled a variety of social, political, and spiritual roles beyond ideological justification of imperial rule. The book introduces and translates a large number of previously unstudied archival sources in manuscript form, including scriptorium documents and colophons. It argues for a practice-based approach to ritual and reassesses scripture as a category constructed in part through ritual practices. My second book asks how Buddhism spread in ancient Japan. It offers one answer through a case study of provincial preaching. It highlights two features: mobility and the message. I argue that the construction of roads not only allowed preachers to travel to the provinces far earlier than previously thought but also that mass mobility created new ritual demands that Buddhism could meet. I pay close attention to the ways that preachers mobilized their messages by crafting doctrines in response to the needs of their village audiences and employing lively homiletic strategies to make their points. In addition to these book projects, I have published in English and Japanese on a variety of other topics including the  nature and structure of East Asian Buddhist canons, nineteenth- and twentieth- century debates over the state’s position relative to religion, sutras produced in China, and the religious practices of scribes and patrons. I teach undergraduate and graduate students in courses on Japanese religions, mythology, Zen, Buddhism and literature, and theory and method. I completed my undergraduate studies at Middlebury College in Vermont with a double major in Japanese and Religion. After graduating, I spent two years in Japan as a Coordinator for International Relations on the JET program in Nagano prefecture. I did my graduate work at Princeton University and was a research fellow at Otani University in Kyoto from 2010-2011. I have also had extended stays in other parts of Japan including Yokohama, Nagoya, and Himeji. I have received generous support for my research from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright IIE, ACLS/Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, Japan Foundation, Vanderbilt University Research Scholars Grant, the International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies (Tokyo), and others. My first book was awarded the John Whitney Hall Prize from he Association of Asian Studies. My 2012 dissertation won the  Stanley Weinstein Prize awarded to the best Ph.D. dissertation on East Asian Buddhism written in North America during the two previous years. I also edit an online  Guide to Shōsōin Research, where I blog about the Shōsōin. Interviews about my first book can be found in the Authorial Intentions podcast by Chris Benda and on the New Books Network with Luke Thompson.

MemberMarcus Meer

I am a historian of urban communication and visual culture, interested in a comparative perspective on the towns and cities of late medieval Europe, with a special focus on England and the German-speaking lands. I analyse how townspeople used texts, images, objects, architecture, and rituals to represent, construct, and contest individual and collective identities, social hierarchies, and political structures.