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.

 

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 Ellen McLarney

The next Providential Modernity seminar will meet at 1:00PM on Thursday, October 31, in Classroom Building 229. Professor Ellen McLarney (AMES) will give a brief presentation followed by discussion of her new scholarship. She explains:

“Black Arts, Black Muslims, and Modern Religiosity” looks at Black American conversion to Islam in the second half of the twentieth century. Scholarship has largely focused on Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, but has not explored a vast literature written by Muslim converts, activists, and writers that details the reasons for their identification with Islam. This project looks at the role played by Islam in the struggle for racial justice during the civil rights era partly through radical religion rooted in Islam and tracks the emergence of new forms of Black religiosity. I do so by looking at the cultural artifacts circulated by these Islamic social movements, a kind of Islamic popular culture that helped constitute a Black counterpublic in the face of the a dominantly white, Christian American public sphere.

A vegetarian lunch will be served. Email Amber Díaz Pearson to receive a copy of the paper.

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 Michael Gillespie

Religions and Public Life at KIE enters the second year of the interdisciplinary Providential Modernity seminar. For the first meeting of the fall, participants will discuss a short overview of a new book project by Michael Gillespie (Duke, Political Science), “The Antitrinitarian Origins of American Liberalism,” at 1:00PM on Thursday, September 26, in Classroom Building 229.

A vegetarian lunch will be served. Email Amber Díaz Pearson to receive a copy of the paper.

Michael Gillespie describes the book project:

In my Theological Origins of Modernity I argued that what we see as secularization in the West is in fact the transference of what the medieval world imagined to be divine attributes from God to nature and human beings. This process was not an abandonment but the concealment of Christian theology at the foundation of modernity and that modernity in this sense inherited many of the problems that had beset late medieval thought in reconciling a deterministic view of creation with free will. That project began with an examination of the Realist-nominalist debate, then turned to an examination of the ideal of individuality in Petrarch and humanism, the reaction against humanism in Luther and his debate with Erasmus over the freedom of the will. I then discussed the way in which this debate was replayed in the debate between Descartes and Hobbes and concluded with a discussion of the way in which this reappeared in the French Revolution and the thought of nineteenth century Europe and particularly Germany. My current book project is a sequel to Theological Origins that begins with Erasmus, then examines the development of Antitrinitarianism, the thought of the Dutch Remonstrants and particularly James Arminius and Grotius. The fourth chapter will turn to an examination of the impact of both the Antitrinitarians and the Remonstrants on Locke and his notion of liberalism. The final chapter then examines The Declaration of Independence, focusing on its chief authors, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, who were all deeply influenced by their mutual friend, Joseph Priestly, the scientist and leading English Unitarian, and were themselves Antitrinitarians. In this way I hope to show that the supposed secular character of the American founding itself is underpinned by a particular Christian theology that is all the more powerful because it remains unseen.

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.