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MemberJohn W. Borchert

John began the Ph.D. program at Syracuse in 2013. (B.A., Philosophy and Religion, Ithaca College, 2009; M.A. Religion, Syracuse University, 2013). His research focuses around questions of religion, technology, and embodiment in American contexts. Using a combination of Posthuman and Ritual theories, Borchert approaches questions of embodied practice from the materiality outward and has written about alternate reality games, burial and memorialization, and online churches. He is interested more broadly in Continental Philosophy, Media, Aesthetics, and Materiality.

MemberMichael DeVries

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Charlotte Hempel. My research focuses on compositional and thematic elements the War Scroll and related war texts from Qumran. I am also an Adjunct Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies at Azusa Pacific University, where I teach courses on biblical literature, Hebrew, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. My research spans areas of sectarian ideology, ritual theory, purity, and priesthood within the Qumran corpus and the wider landscape of Second Temple writings.

MemberJoy Palacios

I hold a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and I study theatrical and liturgical performance in early modern France. Research and teaching themes include theater and drama, age of Louis XIV, Catholic Counter-Reformation, devotional literature, life writing, court culture, material and visual culture, ritual and performance theory, archival research methods.

MemberStefan Fisher-Høyrem

I am a researcher on the project Cultural Conflict 2.0 which is headed by Professor David Herbert. The project investigates the development of cultural conflicts, as well as production and reproduction of social order, via social media, collective rituals, city promotion and planning, etc. in different cities in Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. My research interests are located at the intersection of modern social and technological history, historiography and theory of history, and secularity studies and political theology. As a historian of modernity, I am interested in the material technological/performative mediation of “modern” concepts of temporality, autonomy, and immanence. I have taught modules in the theory of history, religious studies, culture and communication, worldview pluralism, and philosophy of science. I have lectured on rhetoric, nineteenth-century British history, and theories of secularity and secularisation.

MemberKristi M. Peterson

*Copies of all materials available upon request Dissertation:  “Consumption and Construction:  Devotional Images and the Place of Empire in Postclassic Mexico, 1325-1521” (2017) Research interests include:  The sacred image and devotional objects in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, the visual cultures of the Americas, Colonial and European representations of New World sacra and ritual, global modernisms, theories of representation, and the construction of narratives of place and cultural identity through the art object. Phone:  (518)580-5057 Address:  Skidmore College Filene Building 815 North Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

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 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 project focuses on provincial preaching in the ninth century. It considers the social and institutional networks that enabled Buddhism to flourish in ancient Japan, as well as the homiletic strategies and particular doctrines taught on the ground in local communities. It aims to overcome the “great man” approach that has dominated the study of early Heian-period (794-1185) Buddhism with most scholarship to date focusing on two esteemed monks, Kūkai (774-835) and Saichō (767-822). In contrast, my project explores the religious life of the nameless masses living and preaching in provincial villages using both manuscript and archaeological data. 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, Japan Foundation, Vanderbilt University Research Scholars Grant, the International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies (Tokyo), and others. 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.

MemberBernd Brabec de Mori

Bernd Brabec de Mori received his Ph.D in musicology from the University of Vienna. He specialised in indigenous music from the Ucayali valley in Eastern Peru, where he spent five years among the indigenous group Shipibo-Konibo. Since 2006, he has been working at the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna; as a research and teaching assistant at the Centre for Systematic Musicology in Graz; as senior scientist at the Institute of Ethnomusicology, University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz; as guest professor at the Institute of Musicology of the University of Vienna, and as a lecturer at the department of social and cultural anthropology, Philipps-Universität Marburg. He is the author of “Die Lieder der Richtigen Menschen” (Songs of the Real People, 2015), editor of “The Human and Non-human in Lowland South American Indigenous Music” (2013), and co-editor of “Mundos audibles de América” (2015, with Matthias Lewy and Miguel A. García) and “Auditive Wissenskulturen” (2018, with Martin Winter). His publications contribute to the research areas of Western Amazonian indigenous music, arts, and history; to the complex of music, ritual, and altered states; as well as to theories about knowledge, ontology, and aurality/orality.

MemberAnthony Cerulli

Anthony Cerulli’s research combines ethnographic, historical, and philological methods to address central issues in the study of religion, such as the nature of ritual, comparitivism, and the politics of religious rhetoric. His work also contributes to the fields of narrative medicine and medical humanities, where, in the American literary context, he has written about the relationship between religion, science, and authority in the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Most of his work focuses on South Asia, however, where he examines associations between Indian religions and healing traditions. He is interested in how and why people “do things with texts” to heal and sustain well-being. To that end, his research looks at the intersections of premodern and modern literary cultures in India at sites of ritual healing, among Hindu communities, and in institutions of medical education. Anthony is also the creator of MANUSCRIPTISTAN, a photo-ethnography project. •In 2018: two images from the project —“Manuscriptistan 01” and “Manuscriptistan 04”— appeared in the photography journal, Light (issue 07, Fall) •April 2019: lecture on the Manuscriptistan project for UW–Madison’s South Asia Speaker Series •Sept-Dec 2019: an exhibit of 62 images from Manuscriptistan hung at the Kamin Gallery at The University of Pennsylvania [links to an article about the exhibit in the Daily Pennsylvanian; a photo-essay on the UPenn Library Blog; and a public talk + panel discussion about the project] •Jan-May 2020: a handful of images from Manuscriptistan were juried into an group exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI.

MemberRebecca J. Epstein-Levi

I am a practical ethicist who  examines questions of sexual, biomedical, and environmental ethics    through a Jewish lens. My dissertation  used Mishnaic ritual purity discourse as  a model for a Jewish ethics of sex and  public health. My current project, which expands upon many of the core themes in my dissertation, examines the moral and textual implications of treating sex as one species of social interaction among many. I’ve also written about the ethics of genetically engineered crops,  the tensions between autonomy and community in Jewish and feminist thought, the duty to vaccinate, and the ways practical ethicists deploy classical rabbinic texts. I teach courses among many of these same lines. I have taught or am in the process of developing courses on Jewish sexual ethics, Jewish bodies and bioethics, purity in the Abrahamic traditions, argumentation in Jewish traditions, and comparative religious environmental ethics, as well as introductions to Judaism and to religious studies. I make a concerted effort to diversify my syllabi in all these areas, with substantial representation from scholars who are women, LGBTQIA+, people of color, disabled, or otherwise marginalized. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in Jewish Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Previously, I was a visiting instructor in Religion and Jewish Studies at Oberlin College. I received my Ph.D from the University of Virginia in 2017. In my copious free time, I enjoy drawing and painting (the header image is my own work), horseback riding, cooking overly complicated meals, and sharpening my ever-growing collection of kitchen knives. I live with my wife, Sarah, and my cat, Faintly Macabre.