Backstory: Prof. Matthew Bagger

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Suma Ikeuchi

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Eleanor Finnegan

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

I am from Lexington, Massachusetts. It is just outside Boston and famous for being the birthplace of the American Revolution. Usually I tell people here that I’m from outside Boston, because people in the South usually assume I mean Kentucky when I say Lexington. Plus, I still identify as a Bostonian, despite living in the South for ten years. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Ted Trost

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

I went to elementary school in Pennsylvania, junior high school in New York, and high school in Michigan. After completing college in Michigan, I lived in England, California, and Massachusetts before coming to Tuscaloosa. Having lived in the American east, north, and west, I now live in the south. In fact, I have officially resided in Tuscaloosa for 16 years—many years longer than anywhere else I have ever lived. So I am from Tuscaloosa. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Steven Ramey

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Williamsburg, Kentucky, a small town in the Appalachian Mountains with less than 5000 people. The town has a small private college where my father taught, so I grew up around a college setting. Williamsburg has its own school system. The small size of the school, with K-12 all in the same building, created some different dynamics, like having football players in the marching band (along with middle school students). My graduating class had a total of 55 students, including 5 international students who were there for only one year. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Russell McCutcheon

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

I was born in Port Colborne, Ontario, in Canada, not far from Buffalo, NY, actually, in a region that is called southern Ontario. It’s both an industrial and a farming region—lots of grapes for wines being grown along the shore of Lake Ontario, about 45 minutes north of where I was from, which was on the north shore of Lake Erie—I could see Pennsylvania on the other side. And lots of heavy industry, like car manufacturing and steel mills, though not as much as when I was a kid. Now, tourism is probably as big as the manufacturing industry once was. There was a canal cutting through my town, which lakers took so they didn’t have to go over Niagara Falls when going to and from the ocean—good thinking. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Michael J. Altman

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

I moved around a few times when I was a kid but always in the South. I was born in Virginia and lived in Florida and Georgia briefly growing up. But most of my childhood was spent in North Carolina. I lived in Durham, North Carolina from fifth grade up to the summer before my junior year of high school. Then we made one last move to Lexington, South Carolina. My family still lives around there. Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Sarah Rollens

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

This is a great question! Whenever anyone asks me this, I always wonder what they hope my answer will clarify for them about me, because it’s not a simple answer. I was born in Arkansas but moved from there while I was still young. While I was growing up, my family lived in Texas, Tennessee, and Ohio. After high school, I lived for one year in Missouri before moving to North Carolina. I lived for a semester in the United Kingdom while I was studying abroad, and before coming to Alabama, I lived for six years in Canada (both Alberta and Ontario). So, in sum, I am from many places! Continue reading

Backstory: Prof. Merinda Simmons

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Backstory” is a series that asks the REL Faculty to tell us a little bit about themselves, to explore how they became interested in the academic study of religion and their own specialty, elaborating on their current work both within and outside the University.

Where are you from?

Tampa, FL.  I grew up celebrating what I took to be my “Southern heritage” of strong coffee, palm trees, and red beans and rice.  When I moved to Alabama after a stint in Appalachia, my students informed me that I was ridiculous to claim Southernness as part of my identity.  I can’t help but think that that rude awakening contributed to my interest in Southern Studies, in how various groups classify this complicated region and how those classifications shape certain relationships to power and something called “the past.” Continue reading