Sneaker Culture: An Item-Based Religious Movement?

sneaker con graffiti

Drew Whinery, from Tuscaloosa, AL, is a senior majoring in Music, with a minor in Criminal Justice. The following post developed from a presentation originally created for an REL class with Prof. Lauren Horn Griffin.

As a college student, I tend to stay up with trends. One that has been popular for years is known as “Sneaker Culture.” The idea behind Sneaker Culture is that certain shoes, or sneakers, are released in a limited supply and many people seek them to up their fashion game or add to their collection. Continue reading

Prof. Ramey Interviews Mitsutoshi Horii, Co-editor of Method and Theory in the Study of Religion

Mitsutoshi HoriiMitsutoshi Horii joined the editorial team for Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (a peer reviewed, quarterly journal of the North American Association for the Study of Religion, published by Brill) a few months ago, working with Steven Ramey (professor and graduate director in our program) and Aaron Hughes (professor at University of Rochester).* Dr. Horii is Professor at Shumei University, Japan, and currently serves as Principal at Shumei’s overseas campus in the UK, Chaucer College. Beyond his current faculty position, we wanted to get to know more about his research and interests in relation to method and theory, and he graciously agreed to answer our questions. Continue reading

Internships and Unexpected Relevance of REL Skills

Sonya Harwood-Johnson

Sonya Harwood-Johnson, originally from Grimes, Iowa, received her B.S. in Anthropology and Religious Studies, with a minor in Environmental Studies, from Iowa State University in 2020. She began work last month as a full-time International Programming Assistant at UA’s International Student and Scholars Services office; she will complete her M.A. in the study of religion at UA, as a part-time student, later in 2022.

When deciding which university I wanted to apply to for my Master’s degree, Alabama’s Religion in Culture program really stuck out to me. Coming from a background in Cultural Anthropology, I always had a difficult time whenever I felt like religion was being studied apart from the people who participate in it. I had no idea which direction I wanted to go with a Master’s in Religion, but UA seemed like the right place to guide me. It was exactly this “Religion in Culture” concept, with the guidance and prompting from UA’s faculty, that led me to internships that really helped me apply the skills I was learning that could be utilized outside of traditional academia. Continue reading

Announcing Uncivil Religion: A Digital Resource about Religion in the January 6 Attack on the Capitol

A screenshot of the Uncivil Religion home page

Following announcements from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the University of Alabama, the Department of Religious Studies is proud to announce a new digital resource produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Center for the Understanding of Religion in American History

Uncivil Religion uses publicly available digital media to trace the threads of religious symbols, ideas, discourses, and identities throughout the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Launching just days before the one year anniversary, the project includes a series of interpretive essays and a curated set of galleries of digital media that represent the various ways religion showed up that day. The essays, all of which were written by internationally recognized scholars of religion and politics, use individual examples of digital media from January 6 to explore the larger role of religion before, during, and after that day.

Prof. Mike Altman, from UA’s Department of Religious Studies, and Dr. Jerome Copulsky, a consulting scholar at the National Museum of American History’s Center for the Understanding of Religion in American History, are the project’s directors. Dr. Peter Manseau, Director of the Center for Understanding Religion in American History at the National Museum of American History, serves as project advisor. Religious Studies graduate students from the REL 502: Public Humanities and Religious Studies course in the Fall of 2021 provided research and digital expertise to the project. The REL Digital Lab, within the Department of Religious Studies, and eTech, within the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama, provided additional technical resources, consulting, and support.

Uncivil Religion is an exciting new collaboration between the museum and the department and we are hopeful that it can grow. It is a resource that will be of value to teachers, scholars, and anyone interested in better understanding the role of religion in politics.

Something New From the “Nones” with the Pew Research Center’s Online Survey Results

The Nones are causing “trouble” again, with sensationalized headlines about the decline of Christianity. These takes can easily reinforce the anxiety among some about changes in society and activate nostalgia for some mythic 1950’s America (which was certainly not experienced as peaceful or comfortable by many marginalized groups in the 1950s, or even today). Based on survey data that the Pew Research Center released this week, those who represent themselves as unaffiliated with religion have grown to almost 30% of the US population. This increase (compared to almost 20% unaffiliated in Pew’s 2012 Nones” on the Rise report) coincides with a significant drop in those who identify as Protestant (which in the survey context includes any Christian not affiliating with Catholic, Orthodox, or Mormon identities). Continue reading

REL News: Jackson Foster Awarded Marshall Scholarship

Jackson Foster, REL Major

Established in the UK by the passage of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Act, the Marshall Scholarship annually finances up to fifty young Americans to study for a degree in any field in the United Kingdom. Chosen for their leadership and ambassadorial potential, as well as their academic ability, Marshall Scholars are a living embodiment of the enduring special relationship between the UK and America.

This year, the British government selected forty-one winners from over one-thousand university-endorsed applicants and REL is extremely proud that REL double major Jackson Foster is among them. Continue reading

January 6, 2021:  Call it Epiphany

picture of crowd gatheredWhat one calls the events that took place in the capital of the nation on January 6, 2021, is a matter of perspective—a viewpoint acquired primarily, I suspect, through the political persuasion of the one giving name to the phenomenon. Continue reading

Announcing the 2022 American Example Participants

The American Examples steering committee is proud to announce the cohort of participants for the 2022 American Examples workshops. American Examples is a collaborative working group for early career scholars of religion in America, broadly conceived, from a variety of disciplines. American Examples engages the study of religion in America across the three areas of research, teaching, and public scholarship. This year, our entire cohort is non-tenure track participants, continuing our emphasis on opening up opportunities for early career scholars. We also have a range of disciplines in the cohort, ranging from religious studies to history to Slavic languages and literature.

This year’s cohort includes:

  • Yasmine Flodin-Ali, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Jem Jebbia, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University
  • Steven Kaplin, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University
  • Andrew Klumpp, editor of the Annals of Iowa at the State Historical Society of Iowa
  • Jacob Lassin, Post-doctoral Research Scholar at the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Arizona State University
  • Rachel Schwaller, lecturer in the Departments of History and Religious Studies at the University of Kansas
  • Suzanne van Geuns, Ph.D. candidate in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto
  • Kristine Wright, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Princeton University

There full bios are available on the American Examples website.

Congratulations to this year’s cohort! We are so excited to work with you in 2022!

All ToC and No Action: Feminism in Philosophy of Religion Textbooks

Feminist theory is all but absent from contemporary research in philosophy of religion. Open a textbook from the field and peruse the table of contents (ToC), and you might see “feminism” listed as a chapter or sub-heading. The contents of that chapter will very likely include references to works published squarely within the 1990s by self-identified “feminist philosophers of religion.” * After reading that section of the textbook, readers will ask: “If even one feminist critique is even partly correct, then why does the book read as though the field’s fundamental problems haven’t changed since the 1960s?” The answer may be that current textbook publications in the field are all ToC and no action. Continue reading

RELdl’s Tools Facilitate Better Conversations Virtual Guests: Perhaps “OWL” Being See You at REL?

What is this?

Have you tried using a basic computer web camera to capture conversations with a classroom? Prof. Loewen has experimented with dozens of ultimately unsatisfactory methods since 2009. With the arrival of the REL digital lab in 2021, things have changed. Continue reading