An International, Interdisciplinary Conference organized by The World Christianity & History of Religions Program (Department of History & Ecumenics)
Recent decades mark a watershed in World Christianity as an emerging academic field, its development into an interdisciplinary endeavor in particular. Reflection on the complexity of Christianity as a pluricultural, global phenomenon has been robust. As was highlighted by our 2018 conference, World Christianity as a field has been shaped in large part by its distinctive historiography and diverse methodologies. In 2019, our primary focus will be ethnographic. Accordingly, a wide range of questions about the nature and relevance of ethnography to the study of World Christianity will be explored, along with the difference ethnography makes (or could make) in providing granular accounts of local Christianities around the world. Likewise, in view of the fact that ethnographic research is being increasingly incorporated into studies of World Christianity at a time when concepts of 'culture' are rigorously contested and the loci of research extraordinarily diverse, what are the major challenges scholars face? The conference seeks to explore and reflect on past practices and new directions, drawing on case studies representative of the currents and eddies of Christianity in the majority world and beyond. In short, the conference seeks to inquire into the state of the field and provide a common interdisciplinary space for intellectual encounter and exchange.
BA Stanford, MA New School for Social Research, PhD Graduate Theological Union
Keynote Lecture: Why Reflexive Ethnography Matters to the Study of World Christianity
James Spickard is the Professor of Sociology & Anthropology at Redlands, where he teaches social theory, research design, and the sociology of religion. His other courses include topics on homelessness, social inequality, visual ethnography, and contemplative photography. Internationally oriented, he has taught in the Salzburg Program and has led travel courses to visit Aboriginal communities in Australia and rural development projects in Nicaragua. He has published six books and over 70 journal articles and book chapters on topics such as religion in contemporary society, human rights, social research, non-Western social theory, and the social foundations of ethics. He is working on a book on religion’s future in the contemporary world. Some of his publications include Alternative Sociologies of Religion: Through Non-Western Eyes. NYU, 2017, Research Basics: Design to Data Analysis in Six Steps. Sage, 2017, and coauthor of Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion (NYU Press), among several other books.
BA University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, MN New York University, PhD Rutgers University – New Brunswick
Keynote Lecture: Feminist Ethnography and ‘Studying Up’ in World Christianity Studies
Sonja Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Colby College where she teaches courses on South Asian feminisms, gender and human rights, feminist theory, critical race feminisms, and postcolonial and native feminisms. She is the author of Privileged Minorities: Syrian Christianity, Gender, and Minority Rights in Postcolonial India (University of Washington Press). She has written articles on education and religious minorities in India, South Asian American comparative racializations, and Black vernacular traditions in the US and globally. Sonja is associate editor for South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. She is currently researching Catholic missionary priests from India serving in rural Montana.
“Preaching is one of the most important things we do as pastors. You get to challenge people’s minds and hearts, as the gospel challenges all of us.”