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February 2022

Hearing the Listeners: Jain Perspectives from India’s Islamic Past. A Conversation with Steven M. Vose and Audrey Truschke, moderated by Alka Patel

February 22 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Perhaps uniquely in South Asia, Jains wrote voluminously about their interactions with Muslim rulers from the Delhi Sultanate to the Mughal Empire. Their writings present us with unparalleled views of these rulers and the social, cultural, and religious transformations taking place throughout the 13th to 17th centuries. This period of history is hotly contested today, as the Hindu Right seeks to de-legitimize India’s commitment to secularism and deny India’s Muslim population a place in the nation. In this conversation, historians…

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Caste Marketing: How Hindu Rituals Sell Brahminical Supremacy

February 9 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

“Caste marketing” can be understood in several ways: a description of how companies market products based on a caste profile of their users or “caste” groups as targeted market. This lecture will focus on the latter and delve into the ways Hindu ritual websites embed savarna (dominant-caste) focused terms, symbols, deities, rituals, and ideas into their websites such that they become digital repositories of “caste ideology” (Jaiswal 1998). In this sense, collectively, these ritual websites become another form of what…

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January 2022

Black and White Color Symbolism in Early Christian Apocalyptic Literature

January 20 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Reconciling the modern categories of race, ethnicity, and religion with ancient examples of identity formation continues to befuddle historians of antiquity. This problem of fusing disparate ancient and modern conceptual categories has been particularly acute for historians of early Christianity. This paper investigates the color symbolism employed in early Christian apocalyptic literature and demonstrate the role that such rhetorical strategies have on the formulations of Christian imperialism and anti-black prejudice. Yonatan Binyam proposes that racial formation theory as currently employed…

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December 2021

“Surely There is No Fear of God in This Place” – The Biblical Plagues and OUR Plague: An Anthropocentric “Theology” and a Lesson for Our Times

December 1, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

**Please note this talk has been postponed to Wednesday, December 1 at 12pm via Zoom**     The onset of the coronavirus brought with it a slew of perverse efforts to identify the ‘sinful’ behaviors for which the plague was God’s punishment. Through an analysis of “Vehaya im Shamoa”(Deut.11:13-21) I offer an alternative understanding of punishment as a disciplinary act attributed to God but, actually, the direct consequence of human conduct. Proceeding to outline the Pharoanic behavioral antecedents of the…

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October 2021

The Constantinian Compromise: Senators, Bishops and the Emperor in Late Antique Rome

October 28, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Given the historic role played by the victorious Constantine in spreading Christianity, it is ironic that senatorial aristocrats were more cooperative with Constantine than were the early fourth-century bishops of the city. Although the bishops of Rome and the clergy, along with other Christians, benefitted greatly from the restoration of their property and the recognition of their legal standing under Constantine, their resistance to imperial intervention in the Donatist controversy marginalized the bishop of Rome for centuries to come, as…

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To Appeal to the Judge of the Netherworld: the Role of Literary Figures in Mesopotamian Incantations

October 20, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Mesopotamian incantations were, at their core, practical texts with specific purposes, whether that was the protection of a dwelling from future threats or driving out a malevolent demonic force afflicting an individual. Throughout the extensive corpus of such texts, found in languages such as Sumerian and Akkadian from the third to first millennium BCE, we see several persistent tropes. Incantations may cluster in categories, according to form and function; draw upon the legitimation of a number of deities; and even…

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Fall 2021 Welcome Reception

October 14, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

You are cordially invited to attend the Center for the Study of Religion Fall 2021 Welcome Reception. We look forward to seeing you there!   RSVP Below:    

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May 2021

Bodily Sacrifice for a Single True Verse: Implications of a Cluster of the Buddha’s Past-Life Stories

May 19, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Across various Buddhist texts we find, again and again, a story of how the Buddha in a past life (as Bodhisattva) made a great sacrifice in exchange for a single verse of true teaching. Although we can interpret such stories as simply glorifications of Buddha or dharma, more interesting questions also arise, such as: How can the Bodhisattva access properly true teachings before he has realised the dharma for himself and made it available to others as the Buddha? If…

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Dangerous Children: The Role of Children in Ancient Near Eastern Household Religion

May 18, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Dr. Kristine Henriksen Garroway will present on the place of children in the household religions of the Ancient Near East. She will explore the delicate balance between a child’s life and the forces out to destroy it. Topics addressed include dangers posed to a child in the womb, infancy, early years, and beyond and how caregivers tried to successfully navigate everything from diseases to demons. The talk will conclude with a discussion of enculturation and ways in which children would…

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April 2021

Acquiescing to Necropolitics? The Church and Same Sex Relations in Africa

April 21, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

In this lecture I offer provisional perspectives on the question, acquiescing in necropolitics? In the first part of the lecture I highlight some of the debates on same sex relations in Cameroon. In the second part of the lecture I discuss the recent genealogy of necropolitics in Michele Foucault and Achille Mbembe. This will lead me to the major part of the essay where I argue that by advocating for death sentences for members of the LGBTQI persons as some…

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