The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University supports academic scholarship on the study of religion, broadly defined. We are proud of the interdisciplinary breadth of our work and are particularly excited to announce the results of our 2016 call for project and working group proposals. The awardees, from across Columbia’s campus and beyond, working in fields including architecture, literature, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and political science, exemplify our desire to create spaces which facilitate connections, conversations, and collaborations across disciplinary lines. We look forward to the seminars, conferences, research, writing, and curricular innovation which will come from these groups beginning this spring, and continuing over the next year.
Our congratulations – and thanks – go out to:
Entheogens and Psychoactive Religion
David Kittay (Religion)
A History of Difference: Piety and Space in Early Modern West Asia
Manan Ahmed (History)
Katharina Ivanyi (Religion)
Medieval and Early Modern Struggles toward Humility, Virtue, and Truth
Bachir Diagne (French)
Pierre Force (French)
Christia Mercer (Philosophy)
Alan Stewart (English / Comp Lit)
Sites of Religious Memory in an Age of Exodus
Seth Kimmel (LAIC)
Naor Ben-Yehoyada (Anthropology
Religion and Revolution
Jean L Cohen (Political Science)
Andrew Arato (Sociology, The New School)
Palestinian Jerusalem: Religion Under Occupation
Nadia Abu El-Haj (Anthropology)
Lila Abu-Lughod (Anthropology)
Nora Akawi (Architecture)
Brian Boyd (Archaeology)
Nathalie Handal (CSER)
Rashid Khalidi (History)
Brinkley Messick (Anthropology)
Salim Tamari (MEI)
Information on some of these events is already available at ircpl.org; further details will be posted as they become available. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Information on how you can apply for IRCPL support for future working groups and other proposals can be found here.
On October 17, 2016, IRCPL and the Department of Political Science convened a panel of experts to discuss the role of religion in the 2016 elections. Participants included:
- Anthea Butler, University of Pennsylvania
- Robert P. Jones, PRRI, Author of The End of White Christian America
- Sarah Posner, Journalist, Author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters
- Kenneth Wald, University of Florida
- Fred Harris (moderator), Columbia University
More information about the event can be found here.
A video recording of the event is now available here.
The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life is now seeking proposals from Columbia University faculty for both working groups and programs that aim to understand the role of religion in the contemporary world and its historical roots. Proposals for faculty working groups as well as seminars, conferences, events, research and other joint projects that bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars are welcome.
Typically, working groups can apply for up to $1,500 per semester and joint projects may apply for up to $25,000, with funds awarded based on activities proposed.
The deadline for working group applications for the Spring 2017 semester is Tuesday, November 8th. Proposals will be reviewed by the Institute and results will be announced by Tuesday, November 15th.
Full details are available at ircpl.org/resources.
Last week, Alastair Ager spoke for the IRCPL about his new book, Faith, Secularism, and Humanitarian Engagement: Finding the Place of Religion in the Support of Displaced Communities, and was joined by George Rupp for the discussion.
A video recording of the event is now available here.
Josef Sorett, Associate Professor of Religion and African-American Studies and Director of the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice (CARSS), has just released his first book, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics through Oxford University Press. Spirit in the Dark offers an account of the ways in which religion, especially Afro-Protestantism, remained pivotal to the ideas and aspirations of African American literature across much of the twentieth century.
Professor Sorett is currently at work on his second book, tentatively titled The Holy Holy Black: The Ironies of an African American Secular, which is also in contract with Oxford UP, and is additionally editing an anthology, The Sexual Politics of Black Churches.
Karen Barkey, Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life since 2012, has stepped down from the position as of the end of June, 2016. Professor Barkey was a member of the board of IRCPL since its founding, and became the Co-Director, with Alfred Stepan, in 2011. In 2012, she assumed the title of full Director. She joins the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California Berkeley, where she has been appointed the Haas Distinguished Chair of Religious Diversity and Professor in the Department of Sociology.
In her years at the Institute, she developed the pre-existing scholars and researchers programs to accommodate fourteen visiting scholars in 2016 – increased from four in the past – featuring a breadth of research topics ranging from the intellectual history of Islam to Judaism in Latin America, and from comparative labor unionizing to NYPD surveillance of Muslim communities.
During her tenure, IRCPL also significantly increased the quantity of publications at Columbia University Press, with nineteen books in total published over the past three years in the Religion, Culture, and Public Life series. At the same time, she led the Arabic Translation Project, publishing seven Arabic translations of English-language books on democracy and case studies on democratic transitions for distribution throughout the Middle East and North Africa, in both print and digital form, with an eighth translation forthcoming this year.
She was the lead, with Professor Stepan, on the Religion Toleration and Plural Democracies projects. Sub-projects such as Sufi Islam in the 21st century, Democracy and Religious Pluralism, and Shared Sacred Sites have engaged different networks of scholars from around the world, creating new synergies for scholarly and policy-focused research and rethinking. These projects, which have now developed into fully-fledged research initiatives, are continuing under the auspices of various global academic and political institutions and research centers.
The Institute thanks Professor Barkey for her leadership and the lasting contributions she has made. We hope to honor her legacy by continuing her work and beginning new projects with the intellectual curiosity, personal and professional generosity, and drive to expand and improve the Institute that were her hallmarks. We wish her the very best in her new position at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life would like to thank the many scholars, students, and community members who made 2015-16 so successful.
The full report on all we’ve accomplished over this past year is now available here.