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MemberSean Hannan

Sean Hannan (Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2016) is an Assistant Professor in the Humanities at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His research focuses on the intellectual history of Christianity, with emphases on late antiquity, North Africa, and the philosophy of time. While his doctoral project dealt with temporality in the works of Augustine of Hippo, his current research broadens out to incorporate alternative accounts of time drawn from antiquity and the Middle Ages. At MacEwan, he has a mandate to make use of methods from the digital humanities when teaching courses on ancient, medieval, and early modern history.

MemberNick Leckey

My name is Nicholas Leckey (LeH-Key), 28 years young, and I’m a ‘historical cartophile’ at heart.  Rambling follows… As far back as I can remember, I have always held a strong passion for the fabrication and use of maps (mostly in historical contexts): the subtlety of design, choice of features/labeling, omissions, narrative, etc., but especially how we see (or rather, ‘present’) ourselves within a particular landscape (either past or present).  My favourite childhood toy was a globe.  Unashamedly, as a teenager, it was Age of Empires II.  Now, Google Earth takes up even more of my time as an academic. I was born & raised in Ottawa and, even early-on as a History undergrad at Carleton University, never thought much of my own city’s past.  For lack of a better word, ‘sensationalism’ had wrestled my focus towards ancient Rome, Tokyo, London et al., and nothing seemed more plain or yawn-inducing than the study of my ‘irrelevant colonial backwater’.  I mean, with no great battles, no wondrous palaces or grand temples, why bother?!  I couldn’t have been more wrong…  My grand-papa, a great mentor in my life & self-made historian, had always rambled about his family’s origins in the valley region, with great pride: the fields that were worked, the homes built, families made…  I then never gave much thought to my own personal history (‘historical localism?’) until I studied his research, and came to really grasp just how many lives (and effort!) had gone into making my own…  He had traced our (Sabourin) family back 13 generations, to 1610’s Poitou, France…  and this, only the patrilineal side!  What adventures they must have had; hard struggles, cheers & joy, alike.  It truly humbled me, and made me regret past condemnations of what history ‘should be about’. This led me to research my father’s family (Leckey), which was a whole three centuries shorter, and very nearly extinguished in Passchendaele on the morning of October 30th 1917…  A hand grenade or mortar shell’s shrapnel tore through my great-grandfather Thomas’s leg, along with several of his most prized digits; he had been a farmhand and carpenter, no longer.  Hopefully unconscious, he lay in the rutted and swampy hillside of Passchendaele for a whole day, with his injuries, before the ANZAC medical corps would find and recover him, alive.  He would return to a pension, and later to start a family: mine.  Knowing how close I came to ‘not existing’, and to the strength of my forefather, I passionately used the skills I had developed during my undergrad to plot out the course he had taken in life & in battle.  I never met him, and his journal (if it exists) may be lost, but I found him in shipping registers, army documents, census statements, and I know almost exactly where he lay that cold October night.  He was a lowly private with no medals to his name, lost in obscurity, despite his bravour.  Do the people at 4-6 Zuidstraat, Zonnebeke, Belgium know that Thomas Leckey, and not just ‘a noble Canadian’ lay in their backyard nearly 101 years ago?  How many more might be like him, perhaps even still laying in those, or similar, fields…? While maps historically have been used in a number of dishonest ways (notoriously, for war, imperialism & despotic intent), I believe they have as much potential to undo that same harm and to allow us the chance to re-imagine the space we are surrounded by today. As a member of the fast-paced modern world, where permanence seems ever more fleeting, I now stop myself to look around:

  • How many hundreds of thousands of lives existed in this space?  What were they goals?  -Their dreams? -Their struggles?
  • How did they envision their space, and change it?  How did this in turn influence the following generations?
  • Who/what speaks for them now?  -Their legacy?

When a person’s past (usually reflected in his/her achievements) is ‘all-but-absent’ (either by design or simple obscurity), maps can sometimes help fill a void in memory: a voice for the voiceless… where evidence may have “never existed” (the way ‘oral histories’ have traditionally been regarded in the west), maps could help reconstitute a missing past, and hopefully bridge a gap in (mis)understanding.  After all, who decides what is worth preserving, or memorializing? Still at an early concept, I would like to develop a public geographic-based database (mobile-friendly) for the Ottawa-Gatineau region, that could potentially serve in a number of ways:

  • Identification of past habitations, buildings, potential archaeological sites, etc.
  • Direct links to relevant articles, blogs & papers
  • Potential for independent reporting, community review, discussion & eventual publications
  • Potential for maintaining/recovering the archaeological integrity of a site
  • Tourism potential
  • Multi-disciplinary potential (humanities, industrial, environmental science, etc.)

MemberMark Letteney

I joined Princeton’s program in the Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity in 2014 after receiving a MAR in the History of Christianity from Yale Divinity School and degrees in Religious Studies and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My dissertation, titled “Christianizing Knowledge: a new order of books in the Theodosian Age”, changes to documentary practice and readerly expectations across elite technical literature from the late fourth through the middle of the fifth century CE. In it, I bring together Roman legal sources, “patristic” theological tractates, conciliar acta, and the emergence of the genre of Talmud to demonstrate convergences between these corpora on a structural level, and to argue that jurists, bishops, and rabbis approached their task of commentary and codification with analogous prejudices and expectations about what documents are, what they do, and how they are to be used. This project approaches the question of “Christianization” beyond a sunday morning headcount, examining the effect of Christianity on structures of knolwedge in the later Roman empire. I am co-director of the Solomon’s Pools Archaeological Project, as well as a field archaeologist with the Jezreel Valley Regional Project, focusing on excavation of the Roman 6th Legion “Ferrata” castrum in Legio, Israel.t For the 2018-9 academic year I will be in residence at the American Academy in Rome as the Paul Mellon/Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize winner. My CV is available here.

MemberPankaj Jain

Dr. Pankaj Jain recently published Science and Socio-Religious Revolution in India: Moving the Mountains (January 2017), and is also the author of Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability (May 2011), which won the 2012 DANAM Book Award and the 2011 Uberoi Book Award, and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy & Religion. He has published articles in journals such as Religious Studies Review, Worldviews, Religion Compass, Journal of Vaishnava Studies, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, and the Journal of Visual Anthropology. He also contributes to the Huffington Post, Washington Post’s forum On Faith, Times of India’s Speaking Tree, and Patheos. His research has been supported by a Fulbright FellowshipCharn Uswachoke International Development Fund, and Wenner-Gren Grant. His teaching interests include Religion and Ecology, Asian Diaspora, and Sustainability of Religious Communities in Americas. Interested in connecting ancient practices with contemporary issues, he is exploring the connections between religious traditions and sustainability in the USA and in India. He has helped two temples in the Dallas area to get grants from their energy company to help them make more sustainable and energy efficient. One of his graduate students has also designed an environmental curriculum for a Sunday School.Before joining UNT, he taught at North Carolina State University, Rutgers, Kean, and New Jersey City University. He serves as a research affiliate with Harvard University’s Pluralism Project, as scholar-in-residence with GreenFaith, as a board member of the Society for Hindu Christian Studies, as the India representative for the International Society for Environmental Ethics, as a consultant at UNT’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, and as a board member of the Executive Advisory Council of Hindu American Seva Communities, an NGO working with the White House Office for the faith-based initiatives. He has presented his research at Columbia University, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, University of South Florida, Florida International University, University of Toledo, Texas Christian University, High Point University, Portland State University, Lancaster University (UK), Andhra University (India), Univ of Rajasthan (India), and several conferences, high schools, radio and TV stations, temples, churches, Yoga centers, and other community centers. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and an M.A. from Columbia University. In his “previous life” he had also earned a B.S. in Computer Science from India and had worked as a software engineer in India and in New Jersey. Dr. Jain is an active member of several academic and community organizations, is fluent in several Indian languages, and has published poems in Hindi. He was born in Rajasthan and had also lived in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Karnatak (in India) and in New Jersey, Iowa, North Carolina, and Texas (in the USA). Some of his papers and articles are at: http://unt.academia.edu/PankajJain/Papers and videos are at http://www.youtube.com/pj2017. The Facebook page for his book is at: https://www.facebook.com/DharmaAndEcology

MemberJorge Mauricio Escobar Sarria

Doctor en Información y Documentación (2013). Becario Banco Santander – Universidad de Zaragoza (España). Magíster en Educación. Énfasis en Desarrollo Comunitario y Educación Popular de la Universidad del Valle (Cali- 2004). Comunicador Social – Periodista de la Universidad Autónoma de Occidente de Cali (1998). En la actualidad, es profesor e investigador del Departamento de Ciencias de la Comunicación (Programa de Comunicación Social – Periodismo) de la Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (Cali – Colombia). Miembro del Grupos de Investigación en Comunicación y Cambio Social.