Prof. Crews — Outside the Classroom

Prof. Emily Crews, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago Divinity School, recently joined us as an instructor in the Department of Religious Studies.  After serving two years as a volunteer in Namibia, she carried out fieldwork in Chicago Pentecostal churches. Currently, she teaches REL 105 Honors Introduction to the Study of Religion and REL 360 Religion in Pop Culture while she finishes her Ph.D. dissertation.

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What if Harry Potter is Sacred?

boywholivedcroppedWhen we label something “sacred,” that designation often changes how we engage it. Discussing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as a sacred text, the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text illustrates this engagement and the ways readers interpret from their own experiences. Both hosts in this podcast have a particular interest in the category of the sacred. Vanessa Zoltan is a Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, and Casper ter Kuile is studying to minister to those who identify as non-religious. Continue reading

Expat or Immigrant?

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By Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi
Becky is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and will graduate just as soon as she finishes writing her dissertation on the Virgin of Guadalupe. She joined the Department of Religious Studies as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Fall of 2012, and was immediately enamored by the charming atmosphere, lofty office space, and pencils with “religion in culture” printed on them.

One thing I have gained from my experience as a GTA in Religious Studies is a more sharply-honed critical eye for labels, categories, and the act of “naming”. Now, as I write the final chapters of my dissertation, I find myself revisiting categories of “immigration”.
Back when I was writing my master’s thesis, I wrestled with the difference between migrants and immigrants. How should I refer to those people central to my study who are of Hispanic origin and are residing in Mississippi and working in the poultry industry? My understanding is that migrants are specifically driven by work, tend to be mobile, and don’t plant their roots, while immigrants come with the intent to stay and establish a new life. Sounds simple enough, but both of these scenarios exist in my research community to varying degrees. In the end, I settled on what seemed like the politically-correct compromise of “im/migrant”, an awkward term that I do not care to use for my dissertation. Continue reading