“Both Sides”

I saw the above pic on a friend’s Facebook wall a few days ago — clearly lampooning President Trump’s recent comments following the violence a week ago at Charlottesville, VA, in which self-described white supremacists marched, protestors organized against them (one of whom, Heather Heyer, was killed when a car, driven by James Alex Fields, rammed into other cars and protestors). For as he said in two different statements, one on Saturday  (the day of Heyer’s death) and the other on Tuesday, both sides bore responsibility for the violence. Continue reading

Loving India Back? Routine Violence and Rewriting History in a British Airways Ad

Parker Evans is a junior majoring in English and Religious Studies, with a minor in the Blount Scholars Program. This post was written for Dr. Ramey’s ​class on Religion and Identity in South Asia. 

Take a few minutes to consider the violence in this advertisement for British Airways:

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When Classification Becomes Deadly

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Sarah Griswold graduated from UA’s Department of
Religious Studies in 2016. She will begin work on her
M.A. in Religion at Florida State University in August.

We do not yet know the motives of those who shot and killed five police officers in Dallas last night. We do not know why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed. We do not know if the man found in Piedmont Park in Atlanta committed suicide or was lynched by the KKK. We do not know if homophobia or allegiance to IS was the primary cause that led to the recent massacre in an Orlando nightclub.

I could go on, but we may never know. Continue reading

In Support of a Speaker’s Practical Interests

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Did you catch the story, the other day, about Republican Presidential candidate, Ben Carson, and a campaign speech he gave in Iowa City? He distinguished between calling Islam a religion and classing it as a “life organizing system.” Continue reading

Out in the Open: We All Fit a Certain Category

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Sarah Griswold is a junior double majoring in Mathematics and Religious Studies. She spends her “free time” analyzing her favorite shows on Netflix, which of course winds up ruining them. She is currently enrolled in an independent study with Dr. Simmons where she is analyzing the popular HBO series “True Detective.”

“You know I’ve seen all the different types. We all fit a certain category.” – Marty Hart

One of the great things about the Religious Studies department here at UA is that you can study pretty much whatever you want and get credit for it. Case in point: this blog series makes up part of the work I’m doing for an independent study I’m doing this semester with Dr. Merinda Simmons about the HBO series True Detective. Yes, you read that correctly, I’m studying a TV show. More particularly, I’m studying classifications of race, religion, and especially gender (amongst other categories that pop up from time to time) in entertainment, with True Detective being my main case study.

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Charlie and Us: Religious Violence and the History of Religions

Picture 3The following guest post is an English translation of the editorial from the current issue of Asdiwal (vol. 9 [2014]), reproduced here with the kind permission of the journal.  It is currently among the very few systematic statements on this topic from within our field and therefore deserves to be read and discussed more widely in North America.

Learn more about this academic periodical in the study of religion, published in Geneva, Switzerland, here.

As we were preparing this edition of Asdiwal (9/2014), the Paris events of January 2015 took place. Journalists of Charlie Hebdo were assassinated by two masked individuals armed with assault rifles because they had insulted the prophet Muhammad, several police officers were killed, and finally, women and men were taken hostages and murdered, because they were Jews, in a Kosher super market near Paris. There is no doubt that these events will have consequences, but these are still difficult to anticipate clearly. For some, war has been declared. But a war against whom, and against what? Faced with violence, many citizens drew together, at first without political or religious aim, to reassert their right to freedom of speech. Soon, we heard other voices, opposing civilization and barbarity, and invoking the necessity to defend the legacy of the Enlightenment against the rise of “Islamo-fascism”; others, no less shocked by these events, emphasized Europe’s apparent incapacity to understand the suffering of the “Other,” and posed the question: “Can we laugh about everything?” Is there not, behind this laughter, a form of condescension, that of a Europe trapped in a vision of the world where she is the center laughing at savages, both within and without, who remain incapable of laughing with her? Continue reading

Create Your Own Identity

welcome-to-queens-2 On Oct. 23, a “hatchet-wielding” man attacked and wounded several police officers in New York City (Queens). Naturally, media outlets immediately started speculating about what could have prompted this man to carry out such a horrific attack. According to several accounts, the man was a recent convert to Islam who had “self-radicalized.” The New York Times headline reads: Capture The article goes on to paint a portrait of this lone wolf who was “self-directed in his activities”: Continue reading