Marla Frederick

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Marla F. Frederick has been named the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion and Culture at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, effective fall 2019. A leading ethnographer, Frederick employs an interdisciplinary approach to examine the overlapping spheres of religion, race, gender, media, politics and economics. Her ongoing research interests include the study of religion and media, religion and economics, and the sustainability of black institutions, such as black churches and historically black colleges and universities, in a ‘post-racial’ world.

She is author Between Sundays: Black Women’s Everyday Struggles of Faith (The University of California Press, 2003) and Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global (Stanford University Press, 2015), co-author of Local Democracy Under Siege Activism, Public Interests, and Private Politics (NYU Press, 2007) – winner of the Best Book Award for the Society for the Anthropology of North America – and Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press, 2016), and the author of many articles and contributions to edited volumes including “Mediated Missions: The Gospel According to Women” in Missiology: An International Review.

Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion and Culture at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology announcement

Nancy T. Ammerman

Dr. Nancy T. Ammerman is Professor of Sociology of Religion in the Sociology Department of the College of Arts and Sciences and in the School of Theology at Boston University. July 2019 marked her transition to Professor Emerita. She is at work on a book developing a sociological theory of “lived religion.” It builds on a growing body of research, including her edited 2006 book Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives (Oxford University Press) and her 2013 book, Sacred Stories, Spiritual Tribes: Finding Religion in Everyday Life, (Oxford University Press), which documents the way religion and spirituality operate across the many domains of daily lived experience. Dr. Ammerman was the 2004-05 President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the 2000-01 Chair of the Religion Section of the American Sociological Association, and the 1995-96 President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion. She is a frequently quoted news source on a variety of topics.

Boston University faculty page

Anna Bigelow

Dr. Anna Bigelow is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. She received her M.A. from Columbia University (1995) and Ph.D. in Religious Studies from UC Santa Barbara (2004) with a focus on South Asian Islam. Her book, Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India (Oxford University Press, 2010) is a study of a Muslim majority community in Indian Punjab and the shared sacred and civic spaces in that community. Bigelow’s current projects include a comparative study of shared sacred sites in India and Turkey and an edited volume on material objects in Islamic cultures.

Stanford University faculty page

Kijan Bloomfield

Dr. Kijan Bloomfield earned a Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton University. She is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Her research focuses on the intersections of religion, ethics, and politics in Jamaica. Her research areas include religion in the African Diaspora, Global Pentecostalism, and Caribbean political thought. Her interdisciplinary dissertation project utilized archival research and ethnographic field work in Kingston, Jamaica to explore the role of religious ethics in the history of social change from the late 19th century to the present. She earned an A.B. in Religion from Bowdoin College and a M.A. in International and Transcultural Education from Columbia University.

Rhodes College faculty page

Emily Dumler-Winckler

Dr. Emily Dumler-Winckler is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics and Constructive Theology at Saint Louis University. She specializes in moral theology, with a particular interest in virtue, politics, gender, and social change in the modern era. Her research brings ancient and medieval thought to bear on modern and contemporary debates in religious ethics. Her first book project considers the ways that Mary Wollstonecraft, an early feminist, radicalizes the ancient and medieval tradition of the virtues in the modern era and contributes to contemporary debates about pluralism and the common goods of shared political life. Her second book project considers the relationship between science and theology in modernity, with particular attention to the virtues needed to perfect these practices and so help modern agents to make a home of the world we inhabit.

Saint Louis University faculty page

Mary Dunn

Dr. Mary Dunn is an historian of early modern Christianity, with a particular emphasis on the history of Catholicism in seventeenth-century France and New France. For the past few years, she has focused my attentions on Marie de l’Incarnation, seventeenth-century mystic and founder of the Ursuline order in New France. Her most recent publication examines the relationship between Marie de l’Incarnation and Claude Martin, her only son whom she abandoned when he was just eleven years old to enter religious life, and, more broadly, the place of motherhood in the Christian tradition.

Since coming to SLU in August, 2008 she has worked to develop curriculum focused on women in the Christian tradition. She takes pleasure in inviting both undergraduates and graduates into the conversation on women in the Church and in encouraging her students to think seriously about issues of theory and method in the study of religion and theology.

Saint Louis University faculty page

Maggie Elmore

Dr. Maggie Elmore specializes in the history of Catholicism, immigration and migration, borderlands, civil rights, and Latina/o studies, with a focus on the experiences of 20th century Mexicans and Mexican Americans and their Catholic advocates. Her current book project, Claiming the Cross: How Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Catholic Church Worked to Create a More Inclusive United States, explores how shifting church-state relations shaped the immigration and social welfare policies that have most directly impacted people of Mexican descent since the 1920s.

Elmore earned her Ph.D. in history in 2017 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she spent the 2017–2018 academic year as a visiting lecturer and a fellow with the Center for Latino Policy Research. She holds a bachelor of arts and a master’s degree, both in history, from Texas Tech University. She has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a Bancroft Study Award and research funding from the American Catholic Historical Association.

University of Notre Dame faculty page

Kathleen Holscher

Dr. Kathleen Holscher is associate professor American studies and religious studies, and holds the endowed chair in Roman Catholic studies, at the University of New Mexico. She is the author of Religious Lessons: Catholic Sisters and the Captured Schools Crisis in New Mexico (Oxford University Press, 2012). Her current research focuses on the historical relationship of Catholicism both to the colonial power of the U.S. government and to Indigenous sovereignties, as well as on the colonial dimensions of Catholic sexual abuse. Holscher is also the 2019 president of the American Catholic Historical Association.

The University of New Mexico faculty page

Leonard C. McKinnis, II

Dr. Leonard C. McKinnis, II is Assistant Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Saint Louis University.  Dr. McKinnis is jointly appointed in the Department of Theological Studies and African American Studies. He is a scholar of Black theology and African American Religion. Dr. McKinnis’ interdisciplinary research examines theology and religious practices of non-mainstream Black religions during the Great Migration.  Dr. McKinnis has published several articles and lectured widely on his research. He is currently preparing his book, Divine Blackness: Race, Religion, and Imagination in the Black Coptic Church, for publication.  Divine Blackness is the result of a 10-year ethnographic study, in which Dr. McKinnis uncovers the Black Coptic Church from the ruins of history, expanding our understanding of Black Religion, as well as demonstrating how identity is constructed via religious performance, which he calls “performative imagination.”  In Divine Blackness, Dr. McKinnis explores how the construction of an imagined community within the Black Coptic Church contributes to the performance of otherwise identities, and also how it compels a fugitive discourse that challenges notions of boundaries and the “citizen.”   At a secondary level, Dr. McKinnis’ research in Black theology examines the place of the holy spirit in the religion of enslaved Africans, and seeks to conceptualize a pneumatological Black theology that commences with the holy spirit as the epistemological ground.   Dr. McKinnis is active in the life of the broader academy, holding leadership positions in both the Society for the Study of Black Religion and the Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr. unit in the American Academy of Religion.

Saint Louis University faculty page

Lincoln Mullen

Dr. Lincoln Mullen is an associate professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and a director at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. He is the author of The Chance of Salvation: A History of Conversion in America (Harvard, 2017) and co-director of the American Religious Ecologies project.

George Mason University faculty page

Kristy Nabhan-Warren

Dr. Kristy Nabhan-Warren is Professor and V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair of Catholic Studies at The University of Iowa. Her research and teaching focus on the relationship between religion, migration, ethnicity and work. She is trained as a cultural historian of religion in the United States and as an anthropologist of religion. She is the author of three books, The Virgin of El Barrio: Marian Apparitions, Catholic Evangelizing, and Mexican American Activism (NYU Press 2005) and The Cursillo Movement in America: Catholics, Protestants and Fourth-Day Spirituality (UNC Press, 2015), and Américan Woman: The Virgin of Guadalupe, Latinos/as and Accompaniment. (Loyola Marymount University Press. March 2018.) Dr. Nabhan-Warren is currently editing The Handbook of Latino/a Christianities for Oxford University Press (Forthcoming Fall 2020) and is finishing up her newest manuscript, Cornbelt America: The Work of Faith in the Heartland. For this book Kristy conducted five years of ethnographic research and makes a case for focusing on the Cornbelt region of the United States to better understand migration patterns, religious outreach, and the centrality of Latino/x/a and African migrants to local, Midwestern, and the national economies. She is also the creator of and series editor for The University of North Carolina Press book series “Where Religion Lives.”

The University of Iowa faculty page

Michael Pasquier

Dr. Michael Pasquier is the Jaak Seynaeve Professor of Christian Studies and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and History at Louisiana State University. He is the author of Religion in America: The Basics (Routledge 2017) and Fathers on the Frontier: French Missionaries and the Roman Catholic Priesthood in the United States, 1789-1870 (Oxford University Press 2010). His work in the environmental humanities includes the edited volume Gods of the Mississippi (Indiana University Press 2013), the documentary film Water Like Stone (2013), and the audio documentary series Coastal Voices (2018-). Dr. Pasquier’s scholarship has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Louisiana State University faculty page

Lauren Pond

Lauren Pond is a documentary photographer who specializes in faith and religion. In addition to photographing formal rituals, she uses her camera to explore the intersection of belief and culture. She often takes an immersive approach in her work, allowing her to experience daily life in religious communities and to portray them in a nuanced manner. Candid yet reflecting deep personal engagement with her subjects, Lauren’s work combines photojournalism, ethnography, and artistic practice.

Lauren frequently collaborates with scholars and currently works as the multimedia producer for the American Religious Sounds Project, a collaborative research initiative led by the Ohio State University and Michigan State University. In 2017, she received the prestigious Duke Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography for her project Test of Faith, which was published that autumn by Duke University Press.

Lauren’s photographs have appeared in publications including The New York TimesSmithsonian MagazineThe Washington PostThe Guardian, The Oxford American, and The Wall Street Journal, and have been recognized by the Magnum/Inge Morath Foundations, the Lucie Foundation, FotoVisura, PDN, College Photographer of the Year, and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, among others. She has spoken about her work at institutions across the country and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Lauren received dual Bachelor’s degrees in journalism and art from Northwestern University in 2009 and a Master’s degree in photojournalism from Ohio University in 2014.

Professional website

Shari Rabin

Dr. Shari Rabin is assistant professor of Jewish studies and religion at Oberlin College. She is the author of Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-century America (NYU Press, 2017), which won the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies and was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. She received a Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale University in 2015.  

Academic website

Teresa L. Smallwood

Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, a native of North Carolina, earned a B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she majored in Speech Communications and Afro-American Studies followed by a Juris Doctor degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1985. Answering the call to ministry, she earned a Master of Divinity degree at Howard University School of Divinity in 2010, followed by a Ph.D. degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2017. Her Ph.D. concentration in Theology, Ethics, and Human Sciences informs her multivalent methodological approach to racial justice. She is the Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Dr. Smallwood is licensed and ordained to public ministry in the Baptist tradition and is presently an active member at New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings.

Vanderbilt Divinity School faculty page

Jolyon Thomas

Dr. Jolyon Thomas is assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan (University of Chicago Press, 2019) and Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (University of Hawai`i Press, 2012). His Twitter handle is @jolyonbt.

University of Pennsylvania faculty page

John G. Turner

Dr. John G. Turner teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at George Mason University. He is the author most recently of The Mormon Jesus: A Biography (2016) and Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (2012).

George Mason University faculty page

Tobias Benedikt Zürn

Dr. Tobias Benedikt Zürn is a postdoctoral teaching fellow in East Asian religions at Washington University in St. Louis’ Religious Studies Program. In 2016, he earned a Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literature (pre-modern Chinese religions and though) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research explores various forms and practices of embodiment, engaging in the aesthetics and ritualistic functions of textual, physical, and cosmic bodies in Daoism and Buddhism. Currently, he is working on a monograph, tentatively titled Of Fabrics, Forges, and Chariot Wheels: The Huainanzi’s Construction as a Wuwei-Performing Scripture of the Way and is co-organizing an international research project on the Global Reception of the Classic Zhuangzi.

Washington University in St. Louis faculty page