Early Monday morning my advisor, Russell McCutcheon, and I traveled down the road and across the state line to visit Mississippi State University. Since my acceptance into the Religious Studies department at the University of Alabama’s new M.A. program a few months ago, Russell and I have been discussing the possibility of having Dr. Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi serve on my advisory committee. Dr. Read-Wahidi attended the University of Alabama for her Ph.D. in Anthropology and was advised under Dr. Bill Dressler who developed the Cultural Consonance Model (and she also TA’ed in Religious Studies and, in fact, still teaches online for the department). She also continues to work closely with the Graduate Director for the Anthropology department, Dr. Jason DeCaro (You can read a brief response to their most recent journal article from Russell and I here.)
Dr. Read-Wahidi is currently working on multiple research projects at the Social Sciences Research Center at MSU, but her work on the Catholic veneration of the Virgin of Guadalupe was what initially suggested that she would be a great fit for my interest in studying migration and identity formation in Spanish-speaking communities in the US. Specifically, in her dissertation, Dr. Read-Wahidi studied how religious devotion can buffer the negative physiological effects induced by stress related to migration.
In addition to Dr. Read-Wahidi, there are a variety of interdisciplinary scholars at the SSRC in Starkville who are all working on individual as well as collaborative research projects. At one point during our trip we were introduced, by Dr. Read-Wahidi, to Dr. Arthur Cosby, who serves as the Director of the Center but in the past has also served as a professor of sociology at institutions such as Louisiana State University; his research is based around something he has termed ‘social climate’ model (learn more about his work here).
So the work being done at the SSRC is very much in line with the kind of work that I can imagine myself continuing to do in the future, but I’ll keep you posted on that.