Matching Items (17)

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Creating New Orleans: race, religion, rhetoric, and the Louisiana Purchase

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Though some scholars have written about place and history, few have pursued the use of place theory in length in relation to the connections between race, religion, and national identity. Using the writings in the United States and Louisiana in

Though some scholars have written about place and history, few have pursued the use of place theory in length in relation to the connections between race, religion, and national identity. Using the writings in the United States and Louisiana in the years surrounding the Louisiana Purchase, I explore place-making and othering processes. U.S. leaders influenced by the Second Great Awakening viewed New Orleans as un-American in its religion and seemingly ambiguous race relations. New Orleanian Catholics viewed the U.S. as an aggressively Protestant place that threatened the stability of the Catholic Church in the Louisiana Territory. Both Americans and New Orleanians constructed the place identities of the other in relation to events in Europe and the Caribbean, demonstrating that places are constructed in relation to one another. In order to elucidate these dynamics, I draw on place theory, literary analysis, and historical anthropology in analyzing the letters of W.C.C. Claiborne, the first U.S. governor of the Louisiana Territory, in conjunction with sermons of prominent Protestant ministers Samuel Hopkins and Jedidiah Morse, a letter written by Ursuline nun Sister Marie Therese de St. Xavior Farjon to Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington Cable's Reconstruction era novel The Grandissimes. All of these parties used the notion of place to create social fact that was bound up with debates about race and anti-Catholic sentiments. Furthermore, their treatments of place demonstrate concerns for creating, or resisting absorption by, a New Republic that was white and Protestant. Place theory proves useful in clarifying how Americans and New Orleanians viewed the Louisiana Purchase as well as the legacy of those ideas. It demonstrates the ways in which the U.S. defined itself in contradistinction to religious others. Limitations arise, however, depending on the types of sources historians use. While official government letters reveal much when put into the context of the trends in American religion at the turn of the nineteenth century, they are not as clearly illuminating as journals and novels. In these genres, authors provide richer detail from which historians can try to reconstruct senses of place.

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2011

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Hybrid Judaism: Irving Greenberg and the encounter with American Jewish identity

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Over the course of more than half a century, Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenberg has developed a distinctive theology of intra- and inter-group relations. Deeply influenced by his experiences in the Christian-Jewish dialogue movement, Greenberg's covenantal theology and image of God

Over the course of more than half a century, Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenberg has developed a distinctive theology of intra- and inter-group relations. Deeply influenced by his experiences in the Christian-Jewish dialogue movement, Greenberg's covenantal theology and image of God idea coalesce into what I refer to as Hybrid Judaism, a conceptualization that anticipated key aspects David Hollinger's notion of Postethnicity. As such, Greenberg's system of thought is mistakenly categorized (by himself, as well as others) as an expression of pluralism. The twentieth century arc of social theories of group life in America, from Melting Pot to Postethnicity by way of Cultural Pluralism, serves to highlight the fact that Greenberg is better located at the latter end of this arc (Postethnicity), rather than in the middle (Pluralism). Central to Greenberg's proto-postethnic theology is the recognition of the transformative power of encounter in an open society. Greenberg's ideas are themselves the product of such encounters. Understood fully, Hybrid Judaism has great relevance for American Jewish identity in the twenty-first century.

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2014

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Ambivalent blood: religion, AIDS, and American culture

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Ambivalent Blood examines the unsettled status of religious language in the semiotic construction of HIV/AIDS in America. Since public discourse about HIV/AIDS began in 1981, a variety of religious grammars have been formulated, often at cross-purposes, to assign meaning to

Ambivalent Blood examines the unsettled status of religious language in the semiotic construction of HIV/AIDS in America. Since public discourse about HIV/AIDS began in 1981, a variety of religious grammars have been formulated, often at cross-purposes, to assign meaning to the epidemic. The disease's complex interaction with religion has been used to prophesize looming apocalypses, both religious and national, demand greater moral solicitude among the citizenry, forge political advantage within America's partisan political landscape, mobilize empathy and compassion for those stricken by the disease, and construct existential meaning for those who have already been consigned to physical and social death. Several studies fruitfully have explored specific registers of religious discourse and the AIDS epidemic, particularly in regard to processes of social stigmatization and combating its very effects. However, assumptions about the secular aims of scientific inquiry as well as the presumably secular trajectory of American national culture have dampened a more robust consideration of religion within the history of HIV/AIDS. In most synoptic histories of AIDS, religion is constructed as either a wincing footnote to the Religious Right or as an occasional and bland example of salubrious Christian charity posed against the backdrop of disease and death. Ambivalent Blood seeks to extend such analysis beyond a digestible footnote by disinterring the often polysemous and ambivalent interaction of HIV/AIDS and religious discourses within American culture. Though not a historiographic work, the current project illuminates the complicated ways in which religious and HIV/AIDS discourses coalesced around the very definition of America itself. Like the Cold War that preceded and the Global War on Terror that followed, the AIDS crisis precipitated significant and contested recourse to the religious imaginary in the effort to forge conceptions of Americanness and citizen belonging.

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2012

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Mormons and the World's Fair 1893: a study of religious and cultural agency and transformation

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My dissertation project, Mormons at the World's Fair: A Study of Religious and Cultural Agency and Transformation looks at a pivotal period of transition within the American religious and political national culture (1880-1907). Using Mormonism as an important focal point

My dissertation project, Mormons at the World's Fair: A Study of Religious and Cultural Agency and Transformation looks at a pivotal period of transition within the American religious and political national culture (1880-1907). Using Mormonism as an important focal point of national controversy and cultural change, this dissertation looks at the interconnections between Mormon transitions and the larger national transformations then under way in what historians call the "progressive" era. Prominent scholars have recognized the 1893 World's Fair as an important moment that helped initiate the "dawning" of religious pluralism in America. This national response to American religious diversity, however, is limited to a nineteenth-century historiographical framework, which made real religious pluralism in the next century more difficult. Bringing together into one narrative the story of the anti-polygamy crusades of the 1880s, the ambivalent presence (and non presence) of Mormonism at the World's Fair of 1893, and the drawn-out US Senate Hearings and ultimate victory of Mormon apostle and Senator Reed Smoot in 1907, this dissertation offers new insights into the meaning and limitations of American religious liberty, the dynamics of minority agency, as well as a deeper understanding of America's developing national identity.

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2012

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Constructing religious modernities: hybridity, reinterpretation, and adaptation in Thailand's international meditation centers

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This dissertation project addresses one of the most critical problems in the study of religion: how new formations of religion are constructed and constituted. My work builds on the recent revisions of the secularization theory, which demonstrates the alternative and

This dissertation project addresses one of the most critical problems in the study of religion: how new formations of religion are constructed and constituted. My work builds on the recent revisions of the secularization theory, which demonstrates the alternative and hybrid ways people seek out religion in modernity. To this end, my project examines the emerging popularity and phenomenon of international meditation centers in Thailand, focusing on encounters between international meditation center teachers and their international students. Through participant observation and in-depth interviews at these sites throughout Thailand, my project explores the social processes of religious change and adaptation, and the construction of religious meaning. I detail the historical conditions that led to the formation of persisting ideas of Buddhism by tracing the continuities between Orientalist interpretations and modern-day spiritual seekers. My work contributes to a greater understanding of the most recent articulation of this engagement and interaction between Buddhism and the international community and adds to the burgeoning scholarship that reconsiders the relationship between religion and modernity. I investigate this relationship in regard to international meditation centers in Thailand through three angles: promotional materials concerning meditation in Thailand, experiences of international meditators, and teachings of international meditation center teachers. I contextualize this ethnographic analysis with an evaluation of the relationship of Buddhism to discourses of modernity and Orientalism as well as a historical inquiry into the rise of lay meditation in Thailand. Throughout I argue that international meditators' engagement with meditation in Thai temples constitutes a hybrid religiosity where the decontextualized practice of meditation is mixed with both non-religious and other religious beliefs and practices. Social discourses and practices involving meditation, even in a Buddhist country, demonstrate the deconstruction of traditional religiosity in modernity and the rise of hybrid religiosity. Through the decontextualization of meditation and the discourse of the practice having no religious boundaries, meditation becomes mixed with tourism, therapy, healing, as well as other religious and secular practices. This research contributes to studies of Theravada Buddhism as well as modern, global religions and the contemporary intersection between religion and tourism.

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2012

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Mormonism and the new spirituality: LDS women's hybrid spiritualities

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This dissertation illuminates overlaps in Mormonism and the New Spirituality in North America, showing their shared history and epistemologies. As example of these connections, it introduces ethnographic data from women who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of

This dissertation illuminates overlaps in Mormonism and the New Spirituality in North America, showing their shared history and epistemologies. As example of these connections, it introduces ethnographic data from women who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in order to show (a) how living LDS women adapt and integrate elements from the New Spirituality with Mormon ideas about the nature of reality into hybrid spiritualities; and (b) how they negotiate their blended religious identities both in relation to the current American New Spirituality milieu and the highly centralized, hierarchical, and patriarchal Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The study focuses on religious hybridity with an emphasis on gender and the negotiation of power deriving from patriarchal religious authority, highlighting the dance between institutional power structures and individual authority. It illuminates processes and discourses of religious adaptation and synthesis through which these LDS women creatively and provocatively challenge LDS Church formal power structures.

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2012

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Son salutations: Christian yoga in the United States, 1989-2014

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This work examines the spectrum of Christian attitudes toward yoga as demonstrative of contemporary religious imagination in recent United States history. With the booming commodification of yoga as exercise, the physical and mental elements of yoga practice are made safely

This work examines the spectrum of Christian attitudes toward yoga as demonstrative of contemporary religious imagination in recent United States history. With the booming commodification of yoga as exercise, the physical and mental elements of yoga practice are made safely secular by disassociation from their ostensible religious roots. Commonly deployed phrases, "Yoga is not a religion," or even, "Yoga is a science," open a broad invitation. But the very need for this clarification illustrates yoga's place in the United States as a borderline signifier for spirituality. Vocal concern by both Christians and Hindus demonstrates the tension between perceptions of yoga as a secular commodity and yoga as religiously beget. Alternatively embracing and rejecting yoga's religious history, Christian yoga practitioners reframe and rejoin yoga postures and breathing into their lives of faith. Some proponents name their practice Christian Yoga.

Christian Yoga flourishes as part of contemporary religious and spiritual discourse and practice in books, instructional DVDs, websites and studios throughout the United States. Christian Yoga proponents, professional and lay theologians alike, highlight the diversity of American attitudes toward and understanding of yoga and the heterogeneity of Christianity. For religious studies scholars, Christian Yoga advocates and detractors provide an opportune focal point for inquiry into the evolution of spiritual practice, the dynamics of tradition, experience and authority, and the dialectic nature of evolving cultural attitudes in a religiously plural and complex secular environment.

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2014

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Irish priests and Mexicans in Arizona: the Diocese of Tucson, 1945-1970

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ABSTRACT

This dissertation examines the encounter of a large cadre of 103 Roman Catholic priests from Ireland and their Mexican parishioners. Scholars have not explored this rich historical juncture. This is the first study to do so. Primary and secondary sources,

ABSTRACT

This dissertation examines the encounter of a large cadre of 103 Roman Catholic priests from Ireland and their Mexican parishioners. Scholars have not explored this rich historical juncture. This is the first study to do so. Primary and secondary sources, as well as numerous oral history interviews provide the evidence that supports the thesis that the Irish priests and the Mexican people shared something of a common consciousness, resulting from similar histories, worldviews, and cultural values. This counters the prevailing scholarly opinion which excoriates Euroamerican churchmen of that time for misunderstanding and neglecting their Hispanic flock. Standing apart in this respect, most priests from Ireland--unlike clergy from other backgrounds-- were sympathetic to folk traditions and experienced a synergy with Mexican people which enabled them to adapt and learn from Hispanic communities.

Yet for all that Irish priests and Mexicans shared in common, these pastors failed to see or at least address the social, economic, and ecclesiastical discrimination which Mexicans daily experienced or challenge the systems which kept them subservient. Paradoxically, these clergy accepted Mexican people, but they also accepted the racist structures which marginalized them.

This historical moment is unique for two reasons. In the mid-twentieth century Irish-born priests were ubiquitous and constituted the largest number of Catholic missionaries in the world. Today there are scarcely enough priests to supply the parishes of Ireland. Similarly, in the mid- twentieth century Mexicanos and Mexican Americans were almost without exception Catholic.

Today this can no longer be taken for granted. These shifts presage the end of an era for the Church in Arizona. Nationally, they correspond to the denouement of long-standing U.S. Irish ecclesiastical establishment and herald the ascendancy of an Hispanic Catholic Church.

In reconstructing this history salient themes emerge: ethnicity, religion (official/popular), power relations, prejudice/discrimination, and the discovery of common ground amid differences. This matrix gives rise to a complex crisscrossing of trajectories of Catholics and Protestants (in society), Irish and Mexican Catholics (in the church), priest and parishioners (in the parish). It holds lessons for the future.

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2015

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Polygamy, Prop 8, and the peculiar people: sexuality in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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This dissertation addresses the issue of sexuality in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon Church, on both the institutional and individual levels. It traces the ways that the LDS Church's early persecution

This dissertation addresses the issue of sexuality in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormon Church, on both the institutional and individual levels. It traces the ways that the LDS Church's early persecution over polygamy, and the enduring effects of this history - both within and outside the Church - have helped to shape contemporary Mormon policies and public actions related to sexuality and marriage. Despite its relative success in achieving assimilation with the larger American society, the LDS Church continues to be associated with the practice of polygamy, creating a need for the Church to prove its adherence to traditional marriage and sexual norms. This work analyzes Mormon involvement in recent political campaigns against same-sex marriage, especially the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California. This political participation has provided LDS leaders with significant opportunities to reshape their Church's public image, to improve relationships between Mormons and other conservative Christian communities, and to position the Church in a particular way in the American religious landscape. The dissertation also examines official LDS policies related to homosexuality and homosexual persons, and individual accounts of gay and lesbian Mormons and former Mormons (and those that do not identify as gay but experience same-sex attraction), found in personal blogs, Youtube videos, and published volumes. Elements of Mormon theology related to marriage, gender, premortality, and revelation, combined with aspects of LDS Church history, structure, and culture, make the experiences of these individuals unique among those of gays and lesbian in conservative Christian communities.

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2014

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Guantánamo: The Amen Temple of Empire

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Guantánamo: The Amen Temple of Empire connects the fetishization of the trauma of nine/eleven with the co-constitution of subjects at Guantánamo—that of the contained Muslim terrorist prisoner silhouetted against the ideal nationalistic military body—circulated as ‘afterimages’ that carry ideological narratives

Guantánamo: The Amen Temple of Empire connects the fetishization of the trauma of nine/eleven with the co-constitution of subjects at Guantánamo—that of the contained Muslim terrorist prisoner silhouetted against the ideal nationalistic military body—circulated as ‘afterimages’ that carry ideological narratives about U.S. Empire. These narratives in turn religiously and racially charge the new normative practices of the security state and its historically haunted symbolic order. As individuals with complex subjectivities, the prisoners and guards are, of course, not reducible to the standardizing imprimatur of the state or its narratives. Despite the circulation of these ‘afterimages’ as fixed currency, the prisoners and guards produce their own metanarratives, through their para-ethnographic accounts of containment and of self. From within the panopticon of the prison, they seek sight lines, and gaze back at the state. This dissertation is thus a meditation on US militarism, violence, torture, race, and carceral practices, revealed thematically through metaphors of hungry ghosts, nature, journey and death, liminality, time, space, community, and salvage. Based on a multi-sited, empirical and imaginary ethnography, as well as textual and discourse analysis, I draw on the writing and testimony of prisoners, and military and intelligence personnel, whom I consider insightful para-ethnographers of the haunting valence of this fetishized historical event.

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2018