Profs. Simmons and Altman Talk About the New MA Degree

Have you heard about the Religions Studies Project? It’s a great website and podcast based out of the United Kingdom. This week they are featuring a podcast episode with Profs. Mike Altman and Merinda Simmons all about our new Religion in Culture master’s degree program.

Give it a listen and learn about our new program. We’re still accepting applications!

 

One Week of Research in an Archive: A Journal

Professors around the department often talk about their “research.” But what exactly is that? It’s something to do with books and articles, right? In hopes of showing how some of us work–or at least how I work–below is a day by day running journal of a five day research trip I took to the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

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Another Good Book with Prof. Michael Altman

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The tenth installment in our A Good Book series is now on vimeo! This episode revisits Prof. Michael Altman as he shares yet another influential book, The Invention of World Religions by Tomoko Masuzawa. Be sure to give it a watch!

Another Good Book with Prof. Altman from UA Religious Studies.

Coffee Break and Lounge Tweets Unite!

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Our first RSSA Coffee Break last month was a huge hit, and our next one is fast approaching! Be sure to stop by the lounge in Manly 200 on Tuesday, March 1st from 1:30-3:00pm and enjoy a free cup of coffee, on the house! Mix and mingle with your fellow REL students, and maybe even a professor or two.

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We’re also bringing back Live Tweets from the Lounge for this Coffee Break! Dr. Altman will be live-tweeting the event, so find him on Twitter and keep those tweets coming! Don’t forget to tag it #LoungeTweets.

The Long Argument Over Religious Freedom

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One of the major themes in my REL 241: American Religious History course this semester has been “religious liberty.” What our class has seen over and over again is that religious freedom isn’t really about religion or freedom. More often, arguments over “religious liberty,” “religious freedom,” or “freedom of conscience” are really arguments about governance, structures, and the individual. Continue reading

Whence Mother Earth?

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John D. James is a senior at the University of Alabama majoring in Religious Studies and minoring in General Business. This book review was written for Dr. Michael J. Altman’s REL 370: Empire and the Construction of Religion course.

In Mother Earth: An American Story, Sam D. Gill begins to articulate and explain with physical evidence that the term “Mother Earth” is commonly misused and presented to audiences as some common knowledge involving Native American thought and belief. Gill takes an interesting approach when trying to carefully argue that Mother Earth is not an ancient central Native American figure. This book’s message is a radical rethinking of how the figure Mother Earth came to be used and ultimately misused by so many who failed to ask questions concerning Mother Earth’s origin.

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Authenticity and the Nation-State, Or Why Thai Food is a Lot Like ISIS

 

tumblr_mdls46sPdt1qawtgfo1_1280We love Thai food around here. But how do you know the food on your plate is actually Thai? What makes it Thai? The sign in the restaurant window? The “Thai tea?” What is “authentic Thai food?”

Well, the government of Thailand is sick and tired of your sad excuses for Thai food and they have a plan to ensure you never settle for fake Thai food again. It’s not just a plan, it’s a robot. Continue reading

The Politics of Misconceptions

meditationIn a recent blog post, my colleague, Mike Altman, makes a crucial point; after quoting a site that describes early European scholarship on Buddhism as being based on earlier “misconceptions, he writes: Continue reading

Europeanizing the Buddha and Constructing a World Religion

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Have you seen Prof. Altman’s new blog post? Here’s a sampling of what he has to say:

“Europeans and Americans conceived of Buddhism as a world religion not because of ‘misconceptions’ that were corrected by ‘better understandings,’ but because it served their purposes within a growing discourse of ‘world religions’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Buddha became European because Europeans imagined him in their own image to serve their own purposes.”

Interest piqued? Read the full post here.

Criss-Cross

Altman-Rollens Criss-CrossBig things are happening at REL this summer, including some moving. In case you haven’t already heard, Prof. Mike Altman and Prof. Sarah Rollens have criss-crossed (although, thankfully, not in true Hitchcock fashion) offices. Prof. Altman’s office is now on the second floor and Prof. Rollens has moved upstairs to the penthouse with the great view.

In the game of musical offices, you grab the one closest to you when the music stops.