Loading

Religions and Public Life Graduate Student Research Workshop

Celebrate the end of the academic year with the 2019-20 cohort of Religions and Public Life graduate fellows, as they present public talks based on their research. The virtual workshop will meet on Zoom Wednesday, April 29, 2:00-5:30PM. Each panelist will give a 6-8 minute “TEDx”-style presentation, followed by open discussion and Q&A.

*Please email Amber Díaz Pearson to RSVP and receive the Zoom meeting invitation.*

 

Religions and Public Life at KIE Graduate Fellows Program: Spring 2020 Research Workshop on “Church and State”

Panel 1: “The Good Life” in religion and politics

Elsa Costa (History, Duke): Understanding the “human flourishing” definition of happiness and the economic “pursuit of happiness” model and how they were used by absolute monarchs to discredit the Church during the Renaissance and Enlightenment.
 
Luke Olsen (Divinity, Duke): Research on the Christian Transhumanist Association and the vision of the good life, liberty, and individual expression expressed at the intersection of Christianity and Transhumanism.
 
Shreya Parikh (Sociology, UNC): Exploring what it means to be Black and Muslim in France and Tunisia when the idea of Muslim authenticity offered by the state as well as the religious authorities equates Muslimness with Arabness.

 

Panel 2: Theological underpinnings of political actions and institutions

Matthew Elmore (Divinity, Duke): John Locke’s use of ‘consent’ defines his new understanding of natural law, displaying a political theology in which the colony, as a bounded settlement, reveals a new nature. Government, insofar as it is enlightened, seeks a new end: the security of private property.
 
Isak Tranvik (Political Science, Duke): Martin Luther King Jr.’s embrace of nonviolent political action is a function of his religious commitment to relationality—to be human, King believed, was to be ethically related to every other in love through Jesus, including perpetrators of injustice as well as those subject to it.
 
Hannah Ridge (Political Science, Duke): New research indicates Muslims in Morocco and Egypt may place a high value on economic policy while supporting a system in which civilians participate in the government. They also demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the role religion should play in the government.

 

Panel 3: Religious communities as sites of both worship and political action

Devran Ocal (Geography, UNC): Studying mosques as spaces where unique political perceptions and practices are negotiated and reproduced, as well as dynamic and fluid spaces of everyday transnational politics.
 
Anna Holleman (Sociology, Duke): Understanding the Sanctuary Movement, where religious congregations offer housing to undocumented individuals within the walls of their congregation so that the individuals cannot be deported, and support the individuals with shelter, food, healthcare, and other forms of support.
 
Wei Mao (MFA-EDA, Duke): A photography essay and diary to record her experiences in both China and the US Chinese Christian Communities, exploring how these communities are constructed, how individuals interact in these communities, what role has religion played in their daily life, and to critically analyze her own identity in the communities.
 
Armani Porter (Bioethics & Science Policy, Duke): This project argues that the Chilean protests against the Catholic Church are demonstrations against both the Catholic Church in Chile and against the Chilean government. Second, this project argues that the continued silence of the Catholic Church has further reinforced the lack of distinction between Church and State.

 
 
The 2019-20 Religions and Public Life Graduate Student Working Group focuses on the theme of “Church and State.” Ten master’s and doctoral students were selected out of a competitive application pool, representing nine different departments and degree programs, three schools, and two universities (Duke and UNC). Graduate Fellows developed their research interests and discussed recent scholarship during monthly meetings. Several scholars are also supported by generous collaborations with the Center for Jewish Studies, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center, the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and the Program for American Values and Institutions.

Kenan Graduate Fellows in Ethics Spring Research Workshop

Celebrate the end of the academic year with the 2019-20 cohort of the Kenan Graduate Fellows in Ethics, as they present public talks based on their research. This is their second research workshop of the academic year, and will feature half of the scholars presenting their work. The virtual workshop will meet on Zoom Monday, April 27, 2:00-5:30PM. Each panelist will give a 6-8 minute “TEDx”-style presentation, followed by open discussion and Q&A.

*Please email Amber Díaz Pearson to RSVP and receive the Zoom meeting invitation.*

This year’s cohort represents five schools and ten different departments in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences at Duke. The fellows bring a vast array of methodological tools and experiences – from literary and biblical scholarship to psychological and policy analysis. During the year, all have explored topics with tightly interwoven empirical and ethical concerns, and worked together to identify and analyze the difficult normative issues engaged by their dissertations.

 

Kenan Graduate Fellows in Ethics Spring Research Workshop

Panel 1: “Are we human? Or are we dancer?” (What characteristics define a person, which are desirable, and who decides?)

    Songyao Ren (Philosophy): Compares Stoic and Zhuangist models of dispassion as they are grounded in two distinct pictures of the good life. While the Stoic is characterized by a closed self, self-sufficient and invulnerable to external contingencies, the Zhuangist is characterized by an open self, constantly able to expand her sense of self driven by the emotion of wonder.
    Rachel Gevlin (English): Explores how the novel, as the primary vehicle of idealized heterosexual romance for nearly three centuries, contributed to the gendered assumption that men experience a stronger sense of sexual desire than women. Although English divorce laws operated under this same gendered bias, the novel cemented this idea in the popular imagination.
    Adam Stanaland (Psychology & Neuroscience / Public Policy): Studies how the amount of social pressure about masculinity that men experience — above and beyond testosterone levels -– explains their aggression in response to threat.
    Alberto La Rosa Rojas (Theology): Examines ethics of migration by focusing on the moral agency of the migrant and the conditions and possibilities for the migrant’s flourishing. In particular, his work interrogates assumptions about the nature of human flourishing that underlie debates about the morality of borders, the limits of hospitality, and the utility of migration.

Panel 2: “We get to carry each other” (Solidarity and agency within communities)

    Elia Romera Figueroa (Romance Studies): Studies Spanish protest music during the 1960s and ‘70s, developing a framework to understand the relationship between musical collective practices in repressive contexts and the formation of experiences and narratives of resistance.
    Nathan Hershberger (Religion): Explores the relationship between scripture and ethics in the Christian tradition around issues of suffering and religious violence, especially regarding what role religion ought to play in transforming conflict.
    Hannah Ridge (Political Science): Examines the paradoxical disparity between high stated support for democracy as a system of government in the Middle East and low levels of actual democracy in the region by examining what citizens mean when they say they support “democracy.” Her survey research sheds light on debates about what it means for a state to be a democracy and what drives institutional development in the Middle East.

 

RESCHEDULED to Apr. 16: Providential Modernity Seminar with Matthew Rowley

** Rescheduled to virtual format, now on April 16, 1:00-2:30PM, EDT — email Amber Díaz Pearson for the paper and Zoom meeting details. **

The next Providential Modernity seminar will meet at 1:00PM on Thursday, April 16, on Zoom. The seminar will feature historian Matthew Rowley (Leicester and Cambridge): “Make (Colonial) America Great Again: The Past, the President and the Protestant Imagination.” Matthew is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of Leicester, working on the ‘William Wilberforce Diaries’ project there. He is also a Research Associate at the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies (Clare College, University of Cambridge) working on the ‘Protestant Political Thought’ project.
Please RSVP to Amber Díaz Pearson to receive a copy of the paper and an invitation to the Zoom meeting.

Abstract: President Trump promised to move the United States towards greater liberty and prosperity. His rallying cry, however, was unashamedly backwards-looking. ‘Make America Great Again’ might be a call to nationalism, but it can also be taken as a commission for historians. Perhaps the most controversial word in this slogan comes at the end, ‘Again’. But what in the past should be remembered or revisited?
Many Protestants who want to restore American greatness only desire to turn the cultural and political clock back a few decades. Some want to restore America to the blueprint outlined at the founding. Others push further into the past, finding American greatness in the original European colonial settlements. For those who support the ‘Great Again’ agenda, what is remembered or forgotten in American history? How are the darker chapters of history understood—particularly complicity in racism, sexism, exploitation and intolerance?
The President’s agenda has been vigorously opposed by other Protestants who are just as eager to discuss American history. They highlight, among other things, the lingering effects of racism and privilege. Most do not join the call to ‘Make America Great Again’, but they earnestly desire to make America better. They use Scripture and history to illumine past national sin so that the nation can confess them, confront their ongoing nature and choose a better path forward.
The 2020 Presidential election occurs one week before the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival at Cape Cod. The Pilgrims, like the Presidential candidates, will be celebrated and confronted, deified and demonized. Competing remembrances will doubtless influence—and be influenced by—the election. Partisans will promote conflicting visions for America and differently situate the President in a grand national narrative. This paper examines Protestant excavations of the colonial past and surveys how history is used to support or oppose the President’s vision to ‘Make America Great Again’.

The Providential Modernity seminar brings together faculty and graduate students from several area universities on a monthly basis to discuss work in the areas of history, political theology, and comparative sociology from Antiquity to the present. A key goal of the seminar is to place scholars of religion into conversation with one another and address scholarly challenges emerging from the post-secular age. “Providential modernity” encompasses a variety of social and political hopes, as well as anxieties, about the promise of history, sometimes expressed in millenarianism and apocalypticism, at other times in peaceful theodicies. In modern times, secular surrogates for providentialism found expression in revolution, social change, and the transformation of knowledge — ideas that have been conceptualized from Hegel to Fukuyama in discussions of the End of History. Many put their “faith” in “providential modernity,” while others, in despair, denied that history had any meaning at all. At the core of our deliberations will be an effort to deepen our grasp of the ways in which religions, Western and Eastern, both converge and differ in their understanding of providentialism, and how scholars may respond to the powerful working of religion in the postmodern age.

Providential Modernity Seminar with Elsa Costa

The next Providential Modernity seminar will meet at 1:00PM on Thursday, March 5, in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (West Duke Building, room 101). The seminar will feature Elsa Costa (Ph.D. candidate in History, Duke University), discussing some of her work on the Spanish Empire during the Counterreformation and Enlightenment: “The Bourbon Ideology? Civic Eudaemonism and Secular Regalism in Imperial Spain.” Her research, recently conducted while on a Fulbright fellowship in Spain, documents the brief existence of a specifically post-Christian ideology of public happiness (or civic eudaemonism) intimately tied to Spanish regalism. The unique lexis associated with this ideology was in vogue from the early seventeenth century to the late eighteenth, and underwent several redefinitions as the Enlightenment emerged from the late Renaissance, mediated in part by the transition from Habsburg to Bourbon rule.

A vegetarian lunch will be served; please RSVP to receive a copy of the paper (and request parking on East Campus, if needed) to Amber Díaz Pearson.

Elsa is an intellectual historian concentrating on Spain and its possessions in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Her dissertation, a study of the Spanish Empire during the Enlightenment, explores how political economy emerged from moral philosophy during the transition from Habsburg to Bourbon rule. Originally from Chicago, Elsa has a BA in Latin American studies from Bennington College and an MA in Ibero-American history from Duke. Her other interests include twentieth-century French, German and Brazilian philosophy, medieval theories of pedagogy, and women’s writing in contemporary Latin America. She has published or presented papers on all these topics. Her dissertation research took her to Madrid and to Mexico City, where she read the political theories of monks, priests, scientists, lawyers, royal advisors, dilettante scholars, aristocratic women, and others on a Fulbright-Hays grant. Far from the medieval notion it is sometimes assumed to be, the divine right of kings belongs to the Renaissance and early Enlightenment. Elsa has watched it emerge chronologically through these texts. Elsa is also a Humane Studies fellow and is at present involved in the founding of a new literary review. In her spare time, she enjoys watching the new TV series she discovered in Spain, like Élite, The Mysteries of Laura, Madrid is Burning and Just Before Christ.

The Providential Modernity seminar brings together faculty and graduate students from several area universities on a monthly basis to discuss work in the areas of history, political theology, and comparative sociology from Antiquity to the present. A key goal of the seminar is to place scholars of religion into conversation with one another and address scholarly challenges emerging from the post-secular age. “Providential modernity” encompasses a variety of social and political hopes, as well as anxieties, about the promise of history, sometimes expressed in millenarianism and apocalypticism, at other times in peaceful theodicies. In modern times, secular surrogates for providentialism found expression in revolution, social change, and the transformation of knowledge — ideas that have been conceptualized from Hegel to Fukuyama in discussions of the End of History. Many put their “faith” in “providential modernity,” while others, in despair, denied that history had any meaning at all. At the core of our deliberations will be an effort to deepen our grasp of the ways in which religions, Western and Eastern, both converge and differ in their understanding of providentialism, and how scholars may respond to the powerful working of religion in the postmodern age.

Faith and Politics: Mitt Romney’s vote to convict

How do we understand Mitt Romney’s speech on the floor of the senate and his decision to vote to convict Trump? How did he decide to vote against the GOP party line? How should people engage faith-fully with politics? Undergraduates are invited to join Dean Jenny Wood Crowley in a conversation on how Romney’s Mormon faith influenced his decision, and what we can learn.

Thursday, February 13, 7:00pm
SocPsych 248
Food from Guasaca provided

Sponsored by Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Email amber.diaz@duke.edu for more information.

Providential Modernity Seminar with Eric Nelson

The next Providential Modernity seminar will meet at 1:00PM on Thursday, February 6, in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (West Duke Building, room 101). The seminar will feature Eric Nelson (Government, Harvard University).

A vegetarian lunch will be served; please RSVP to receive a copy of the paper (and request parking on East Campus, if needed) to Amber Díaz Pearson.

Eric Nelson is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Government at Harvard University. His research focuses on the history of political thought in early-modern Europe and America, and on the implications of that history for debates in contemporary political theory. Particular interests include the history of republican political theory, the relationship between the history of political thought and the history of scholarship, theories of property, and the phenomenon of secularization. Nelson is the author, most recently, of The Theology of Liberalism: Political Philosophy and the Justice of God (Harvard/Belknap, 2019). His other books include The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding (Harvard/Belknap, 2014), which received the Society of the Cincinnati History Prize and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2015, as well as a Choice “Top 25 Books for 2015” selection; The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought (Harvard/Belknap, 2010), which received the Erwin Stein Prize and the Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2010; and The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

The Providential Modernity seminar brings together faculty and graduate students from several area universities on a monthly basis to discuss work in the areas of history, political theology, and comparative sociology from Antiquity to the present. A key goal of the seminar is to place scholars of religion into conversation with one another and address scholarly challenges emerging from the post-secular age. “Providential modernity” encompasses a variety of social and political hopes, as well as anxieties, about the promise of history, sometimes expressed in millenarianism and apocalypticism, at other times in peaceful theodicies. In modern times, secular surrogates for providentialism found expression in revolution, social change, and the transformation of knowledge — ideas that have been conceptualized from Hegel to Fukuyama in discussions of the End of History. Many put their “faith” in “providential modernity,” while others, in despair, denied that history had any meaning at all. At the core of our deliberations will be an effort to deepen our grasp of the ways in which religions, Western and Eastern, both converge and differ in their understanding of providentialism, and how scholars may respond to the powerful working of religion in the postmodern age.