Season 9: 2019-2020

Podcast

Natural Selection In the Evolution of Religion

In this week's podcast, professor Armin Geertz outlines an answer elaborating on the arguments presented in his co-authored book The Emergence and Evolution of Religion by Means of Natural Selection. He argues that there are multilevel selection processes that happen within different sociocultural formations, and these are key to understanding how religion has evolved throughout history.
Podcast

How Religious Freedom Makes Religion

Tisa Wenger tells David Robertson how local, national, and international regimes of religious freedom have produced and reproduced the category 'religion' and its others in the modern world.
Response

The Politics of Religious Freedom and the Criminalization of Blackness

Bishop Brathwaite’s story points out to us the degree to which the ghostly histories of enslaved and colonized peoples continue to haunt the present from the graves of colonial infrastructures and through repurposed modes of colonial regulation. We can include in this the category of religion and its promised freedom as sites for such hauntings as well
Podcast

When Archive Meets A.I. – Computational Humanities Research on a Danish Secular Saint

In this week’s podcast, Katrine Frøkjaer Baunvig discusses preliminary results from the research project “Waking the Dead”. This project aims to build an a.i. bot of Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872), a Danish “secular saint” considered to be the father of modern Denmark, who contributed immensely into generating a national consciousness through his writings, both in a political and religious way.
Podcast

BASR 2019: The State of the Discipline

Vivian Asimos and Theodora Wildcroft took the opportunity to ask the delegates of BASR 2019 what inspired them about the conference theme, their opinion about major trends in the discipline, and how they were personally feeling about REF 2021.
Response

The Promise of Reincarnation in the Grundtvig AI

Researchers are looking to make a robotic re-incarnation of Danish Founding Father N.F.S. Grundtvig, but what do such AI interfaces say about how religious studies can participate in digital humanities research?
Podcast

The secularization of discourse in contemporary Latin American neoconservatism

In this week’s podcast, Professor Jerry Espinoza Rivera explains how Latin American conservatism became neoconservatism. Though Latin America is diverse, conservatism has been a widespread in the region shaping not only the political power plays of religious institutions but the people's daily experience of the world. Recently, however, neoconservatism has managed to develop a language of its own that blends science and philosophy with historical analysis of the contemporary world political landscape to become an significant religio-cultural force.
Podcast

EASR 2019 Publishing Panel

This panel, recorded at the EASR conference 2019 at the University of Tartu, is intended for PhD students and early career scholars who want to learn more about the publishing world.
Podcast

Lady Death and the Pluralization of Latin American Religion

In today’s podcast, Professor R. Andrew Chesnut connects Brazil’s colonial past to its pluralist present and explains why folk saint devotion to Santa Muerte or Lady Death is one of the fastest growing religious movements in the world.
Response

Santa Muerte and the Interplay of Cultures on Dia de los Muertos

Santa Muerte is a death saint with a rich history and reflects the deep interplay of cultures and devotional practices in Mexico.
Podcast

Reflections on “Thinking with Jonathan Z. Smith”

Aaron Hughes, the keynote speaker for the #JZSatNTNU Conference in Trondheim, Norway, talks with the RSP about the legacy of Jonathan Z. Smith's work for the field of religious studies.
Response

The Winter of (Neo)Conservative Discontent

Looking back on the last 60 years, we can see clearly "the influence of the Catholic neoconservatives throughout the Americas and the world," writes Jesse Russell in this response to our October 21st podcast with Jerry Espinoza Rivera.
Podcast

Doctors and Stigmatics in the 19th and 20th centuries

In this week's podcast with Gabor Klaniczay we learn about cases of stigmata during the 19th and 20th century in Europe, where medical discourses clashed with as well as supported religious discourses about the authenticity and meaning of famous stigmata cases like Italian Padre Pio.
Podcast

Discourse #11 | Oct 2019

Chris Cotter is joined by Susannah Crockford and Sierra Lawson in this month's edition of discourse, discussing college football politics in Alabama, Donald Trump's new 'spiritual adviser', a Day of the Dead/Dia de Muertos memorializing migrants who have died at the US border, Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans day rituals, and the recent controversy surrounding QR codes at the AAR-SBL.
Response

Religion, Stigmata, and History

"As a particularly dramatic account in the early history of signs and sanctity, [the Chiara] episode highlighted the importance of context," writes Cynthia Klestinec in response to Sidney Castillo's interview with Gabor Klaniczay. There we see "how the local context of Chiara served to establish claims to sanctity in the early 1300s and how the more extensive context of the Counter Reformation generated an overlapping but ultimately different set of debates about those same signs in the 1650s."
Podcast

Straight White American Jesus, the podcast

In this week's podcast, Skidmore College Professor Bradley Onishi speaks about Straight White American Jesus, a podcast he co-hosts with Dan Miller that blends insider religious experience with academic expertise about American Evangelicalism.
Response

Religion as a Species of Human Activity

From Jonathan Z. Smith we learned that "religion is not its own genus of human activity, but a species of it," writes Willi Braun in this response to Andie Alexander's interview with Aaaron Hughes at the "Thinking With Jonathan Z. Smith" Conference in Trondheim earlier in 2019.
Podcast

Unbelief as a Nuanced Phenomenon: The Sociality of Nonreligion across Europe

Unbelief has often been defined as either ignorance or rejection of religious systems, but this week's guests David Herbert and Josh Bullock see far more diversity in the ways one can be nonreligious based on their research on Gen Y in Europe.
Response

Use Peer-Review to Become a Stronger Writer

Librarian Garrett Trott explains the value of editors and the peer-review process in this week's response to the 2019 EASR publishers panel. "Build upon [their] critique and comments," Trott advises, while also altering authors to issues of access to scholarship addressed by newer open access publishing models.
Podcast

Secular Jewish Millennials in Israel/Palestine

In this podcast, Chris Cotter is joined by Dr Stacey Gutkowski to discuss what it means to be a ‘secular Jewish Israeli millennial’.
Podcast

Applied Religious Studies at Georgia State University

In this episode, Professor Molly Bassett, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University speaks about her program’s efforts to develop applied religious studies master’s certificates in “Religion and Aging” and “Nonprofit Management.”
Response

Understanding Religious Diversity Is Fundamental to Understanding the Social Aspects of Health and Aging

Students in religious studies (and students of faith) understand that religion is a social institution with history, structure, and function. So they have a particular advantage in seeing the social capital of religious groups and how it can be leveraged.
Response

A Tacit Case for Autoethnography as a Crucial Research Method for Befuddling Times

"The aims of autoethnography—careful, creative, and responsible deployment of personal narrative as an illuminating force in the study of the cultural and the political—align with those of Onishi’s Straight White American Jesus in his attempt to avoid “reduction and demonization [of evangelicals]” while maintaining “the courage and the audacity to point as critical and unflinching of an eye on what’s happening.”"
Podcast

Special 2019: Only Sixty Seconds!

For our eighth(!) annual special, Only Sixty Seconds returns! This time, Chris Cotter is your host, as David G. Robertson returns to defend his 2018 crown against Bettina Schmidt, Douglas Davies and Theo Wildcroft. We may not have avoided repetition, but I do not hesitate in promising you no deviation from hilarity!
Podcast

Separating Religion and Government…But What Is Religion?: A Look at the US Supreme Court

Americans generally affirm the importance of separating "church" and "state." But what does church--or religion--mean? Hear two leading religious freedom lawyers discuss the meaning of religious freedom in key #SCOTUS cases, including one before the Court this term.
Response

State Funding for Religious Schools: What the US Supreme Court Should and Likely Will Do in its Espinoza decision

After Espinoza v Montana, the U.S. commitment to church/state separation, which has been the strongest in the school context, no longer may be assured, writes Martha McCarthy in this week's featured response.
Podcast

The Sacrality of the Secular and Philosophy of Religion

In this week's podcast, we speak with Bradley Onishi about the ways in which philosophy of religion has thought "with" religion rather than for or against religion. "It's possible," he says, "to hold an enchanted secularity" if we think about religions themselves as tools for questioning our basic assumptions about the world.
Response

Narrating Secularism in the Continental Philosophy of Religion: Onishi and the Enduring Consequences of the Secularization Thesis

If one identifies the secularization thesis as the status quo against which contemporary scholars of religion are to rebel, then even the most critical and generative analysis will leave secularism in a default position of hostility against religion.
Response

Webs without Borders

Mark Q. Gardiner and Steven Engler reply to our interview with Bradley Onishi focuses on the view from Philosophy. "The divergence between Weber and Onishi," they write, "need not be understood as a fight over where to place borders, but rather of adopting different configurations of the semantic web—a difference which, we might note, is only visible against the background of a good deal of overlap elsewhere."
Podcast

Media and the Study of Religion

Vivian Asimos, Chris Cotter, Time Hutchings and Suzanne Owen discuss the intersections of Media and the Study of Religion.
Response

The Inauthenticity of New Media

When it comes to media and the study of religion, Travis Cooper says "scholars need to ask more compelling questions, moving beyond overly simplistic binaries and dualisms to think in terms of scales and networks, degrees and systems, connection and difference."
Response

The Essential and Complex Relationship of Religion and Media

The use of new digital media may sometimes be clumsy, not well understood, and subject to failure at times, writes Robin Harragin Hussey, but it is the current and future manifestation of the way many religions and religious people want to share and make themselves known.
Podcast

Religious Literacy is Social Justice

Is Religious Literacy social justice? In this week's podcast with Professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, she discusses the University of Vermont’s new “Religious Literacy for Professionals” certificate and why religious studies does vital work for the academy.
Podcast

Artificial Intelligence and Religion

Chris Cotter and Beth Singler discuss the intersections between religion and Artificial Intelligence from slavery and pain to machines taking over religious functions and practices.
Response

What is AI For?

Podcast

Discourse! February 2020 with Sierra Lawson and Sidney Castillo

Breann Fallon sits down with Sierra Lawson and Sidney Castillo to discuss the recent Peruvian Congress elections and the controversial new book "American Dirt."
Response

After Secularization: Unbelief in Europe

"Since the 1960s, critiques of scientific rationalism and technocracy have not withered away but have only expanded and have, in the process, diffused from the libertarian left to the new populist right," writes Professor Dick Houtman in this response to our December 2nd episode, "Unbelief as a Nuanced Phenomenon."
Podcast

The Problem with ‘Religion’ (and related categories)

Tim Fitzgerald - a founding figure in the critical study of religion - discusses his career up to his seminal volume, The Ideology of Religious Studies, published twenty years ago this year.
Response

Intellectual Journeys: Insights from Timothy Fitzgerald’s Work

Craig Martin writes of the lesson he learned from Timothy Fitzgerald's work: "Reading widely outside of religious studies allows us to integrate the knowledge from different fields or disciplines, making connections where theories or claims overlap, or noting where some approaches allow us to answer some of my questions in a more sophisticated way than other approaches."
Podcast

Founding American Religion, the Journal

Find out about the founding of the new journal American Religion with editors Sarah Imhoff and Cooper Harris
Response

Developing Communities of Practical Wisdom

"Religious studies programs that honor a social justice frame learn to speak to common human needs in compelling ways" says Holly Nelson Becker, PhD, LCSW in response to our conversation with Molly Bassett in RSP Episode 315: "Applied Religious Studies at Georgia State University."
Podcast

Narrating Belief: Vernacular Religion in India

In northeast India, beliefs are more fluid than fixed, argues Ülo Valk in this week's episode. What are the consequences when what we believe changes over time and how does that impact the stories we tell about the world?
Response

American Religion, a New Journal for the Discipline and an Opportunity to Reimagine How We Theorize

The "capacious model" proposed by editors Sarah Imhoff and Cooper Harriss for the new journal American Religion "could set this journal apart from standard approaches to the study of American religion," writes Andrea R. Jain in this response to RSP Episode 323.
Podcast

Who Are the Power Worshippers?

In this episode, journalist Katherine Stewart, author of a new book about religious nationalism called The Power Worshippers, shares her perspective on the religio-political struggle for the power to shape American life today.
Podcast

Empty Signs in an Automatic Signalling System

In this week's episode, Timothy Fitzgerald speaks with David G. Robertson about why the history of the category “religion” should make us reconsider many other modern categories like politics, liberal, secular. Can these interrelated terms ever escape their origins in centuries of colonial epistemé?
Response

Which Voice Speaks?

Russell McCutcheon writes that the ongoing scholarly issues raised by critical theorists about the category of religion, reflected by McCutcheon, Timothy Fitzgerald and others, reflect the reality that "old habits die hard because they are situated within larger contexts that organize our sense of who we are in relation to others." This includes "discourses on religion" which "many scholars seem to have no choice but to continue to see as self-evident in their meaning and application"
Podcast

Discourse! March 2020 with Theo Wildcroft, Dan Gorman, & Vivian Asimos

In this month's episode of Discourse!, Theo Wildcroft, Dan Gorman and special emergency guest Vivian Asimos discuss the US Supreme Court's relationship to Christianity, how the Independent dealt with criticism of a review of a book critical of paganism, and religion, abuse and the idea of a ‘witch hunt’ in yoga and academia. Oh and something called coronavirus?
Response

Exploring the Richness of Nonreligion

"Josh Bullock’s and David Herbert’s study advances our understanding of un/belief, belonging, and the sociality of nonreligion across different countries and generations," writes Dr. Rachel Shillitoe in response to Episode #313 "Unbelief as a Social Phenomenon"
Podcast

The Public Square and the Heart of Culture War

In this conversation with Dr. Benji Rolsky, we learn how the public square became the ideological focus of American liberal strategies in the 1970s and beyond thanks to the efforts of media figures like Norman Lear.
Podcast

Challenging the Normative Stance of Aniconism in the Study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

In this episode, Candace Mixon discusses aniconism with Birgit Meyer & Terje Stordalen. Would our normative assumptions about the absence of images in certain traditions be better served by turning to aesthetics?
Podcast

Near Death Experiences

In this episode, Christopher Cotter discusses Near Death Experiences with Jens Schlieter. How does one study reports of such experiences from a critical study of religion perspective? How are such reports related to modern societal developments such as ‘secularization’, individualization, or advances in medical science?
Podcast

Discourse! April 2020 with Christopher Cotter, Chris Silver and Savannah Finver

In April’s episode of Discourse!, Chris Cotter, Chris Silver and Susannah Finver place the current global situation relating to coronavirus front and centre in their discussion.
Podcast

Boxing and Religious Identity

Are boxers' religious affiliations only as skin deep as their tattoos? Find out in this conversation about boxing and religious identity with Prof. Arlene Sanchez Walsh by David McConeghy.
Podcast

May the Fourth Be With You

To honor May the Fourth, International Star Wars Day, please enjoy this compilation of classic Religious Studies Project interviews about Star Wars!
Podcast

Race, Religious Freedom & Empire in Post-War Japan

Jolyon Thomas talks American Empire, Racialization, and Religion in Post-War Japan with Brett Esaki at the 2019 AAR Conference in San Diego, CA.
Response

Religious legislation as a place of religion-making

In this response to Episode 332, Ernils Larsson writes, "A central problem with the principles of religious freedom and the separation of religion and state as they were instituted in Japan under American occupation is that they assume a consensus with regards to what constitutes religion. As Japan was reshaped by the occupation authorities, an American understanding of religion forced a transformation of the public rites of the state in order for them to conform with the notion of Shrine Shinto as a private religion."
Response

Imagining American and Japanese Religious Freedom

"Diversity often lets us realize that we have limited our scope with no deliberation," writes Satoko Fujiwara in this response to Episode 332. "Regarding the study of Japanese religions," she continues, "diversity is even more necessary because scholars in the field have largely consisted of only two groups: Japanese scholars and white Westerners. It is too often as if only “white” scholars have the freedom to study anything and everything."
Podcast

Discourse! May 2020 with David G. Robertson, Suzanne Owen, and Craig Martin

It's ideology, religion and conspiracy all the way in this month's Discourse! David G. Robertson is joined by Suzanne Owen and Craig Martin to discuss the Sun's mockery of pagans, problems with the Guardian's headline that people are returning to the Church, coronavirus conspiracies in India targetting Muslims, and how "idiology" (or one idiology, anyway) is pushing the religion out of religious studies.
Podcast

What does religious literacy mean in your context?

Will #religiousliteracy save Religious Studies? At the 2019 AAR in San Diego, Dave McConeghy moderated a roundtable with early career scholars about the meaning of religious literacy in their context. Join us for a lively discussion about what it means to teach religious studies with Richard Newton, Chris Jones, Rebekka King, Jenna-Gray-Hildenbrand, Kevin Minister, and Bradly Onishi.
Response

Depicting the Undepictable: the word, the image, the divine and Islam

"Aniconism and iconoclasm are inherent within" Islam, writes Joseph J. Kaminski in this response to episode 328. Scholars of Islam and Muslims alike should be wary of images and the ways in which they create "an artificial frame" for understanding religious encounters.
Podcast

Exploring African Shamanism and White Sangomas in South Africa

In this episode Maxinne speaks with Dr. Ullrich Relebogilwe Kleinhempel who shares some interesting personal and academic insights into researching White Sangomas and Bantu Shamanism in South Africa.
Response

The African Shaman: Some Qualifications

Research methods are at the crux of James Cox's response to Episode 334. " By combining the techniques of epoché and empathetic interpolation," Cox argues, "the researcher conveys respect for the beliefs, practices, and alternate therapies forming the African worldview without either sanctioning or refuting them."
Podcast

Holocaust Museums as Sacred-Secular Space

In this interview, @Bre_Fallon talks to Dr Avril Alba on the tension between the secular and the sacred in Holocaust Museums.
Response

Painfully Stripped Away, Painfully Added

Adam Park's response to episode 330 highlights boxing as a site for identity creation and the legacy of muscular Christianity as two important takeaways of our interview with Arlene Sanchez-Walsh.
Podcast

Discourse! June 2020

Amid mass protests against police brutality and systemic racism ongoing in the United States, RSP contributor Ben Marcus speaks with Andre Willis and Carleigh Beriont about race and religion in this month's Discourse episode.
Response

On the study of NDEs

In this response, Gregory Shushan writes, "The notion expressed by both Prof. Cotter and Dr. Schlieter in their recent interview that near-death experiences (NDEs) have been discussed in academic contexts primarily from medical/materialist and “paranormal” approaches is somewhat overstated – particularly in the study of religions and related fields such as anthropology.  Those who have undertaken and published research adopting a “critical religious studies approach, looking at these narratives in their social and historical contexts” will be surprised at the claim that such works are “largely absent”
Response

Are NDEs Universal?

Writing about universalism in NDEs, Natasha Tassell-Matuma explains that "Languages reflect the cosmologies, ontologies, and epistemologies underlying cultures and are mutually constitutive in a culture’s practices, beliefs, ideologies, and norms. As such, when people speak, they are essentially drawing on a collective legacy that speaks to the socially-sanctioned worldview of the culture they affiliate with."
Podcast

The Science of Prayer: Genealogies and Biopolitics

In this week's episode, John Lardas Modern discusses the genealogy and biopolitics of the scientific study of prayer from E.B. Tylor to DEVO.
Podcast

Decolonizing the Study of Religion

How can the field address its whiteness and the legacy of its colonial origins? In this final episode of our 2019/2020 season Christopher Cotter speaks with Malory Nye about decolonizing Religious Studies.
Response

Epistemological Sacrifice Zones and the Decolonization of Religion

Decolonization requires changing the politics of academia's knowledge production, argues Tyler M. Tully in this response to Episode 337: Decolonizing the Study of Religion with Malory Nye.

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