Chapter 1

This research collaborative was begun with a core group, in the Spring of 2012; though the initiative has moved into new phases, and thus new chapters, since then, the founding members, who are listed below, posted their work in what we now know as Chapter 1.

Craig Martin is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at St. Thomas Aquinas College, New York, editor of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion, and Executive Secretary of the North American Association for the Study of Religion. His books include Masking Hegemony: A Genealogy of Liberalism, Religion and the Private Sphere (Equinox, 2010), A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion (Equinox, 2012), and Religious Experience: A Reader, co-edited with Russell T. McCutcheon (Equinox, 2012). Craig’s research interests concern social theories of religion and ideology, particularly how the category “religion” is imagined in modern thought, political systems, and popular discourses. Craig is also a regular blogger for The Bulletin for the Study of Religion. Learn more about Craig here. Read more from Craig in the Culture on the Edge vault.

Russell T. McCutcheon is a Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where he was Department Chair from 2001-2009, a position he now holds once again (2013-18). He has held leadership positions in professional scholarly associations, edited academic journals, and published a variety of monographs, essays, collections, and anthologies, from his first book, Manufacturing Religion (Oxford, 1997), to his most recent, The Sacred is The Profane: On The Political Nature of “Religion” (Oxford, 2013; co-written with William Arnal), as well as his edited The Insider/Outside Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader(Continuum, 1998), The Guide to the Study of Religion (co-edited with Willi Braun, Continuum, 2000), and Religious Experience: A Reader(co-edited with Craig Martin, Equinox, 2012]). His forthcoming book is entitled Entanglements: Marking Place in the Field of Religion (Equinox 2014). The focus of Russell’s work is on the politics of category and identity formation, with special attention to the history and modern use of the category “religion.” Read more from Russell on the relevance of the Humanities here. Learn more about Russell here. Read more from Russell in the Culture on the Edge vault.

Monica R. Miller is Assistant Professor of Religion and Africana Studies at Lehigh University and among other publications, author of Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge, 2012). Miller currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow with The Institute for Humanist Studies (Washington, DC), is Co-Chair and founder of Critical Approaches to the Study of Hip Hop and Religion Group (American Academy of Religion) and is Principal Investigator of a large scale survey project entitled “Remaking Religion” which examines changing patterns of religion and irreligion in youth culture in Portland, Oregon. Miller is co-author of a forthcoming volume Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain with Dr. Anthony B. Pinn (Bloomsbury Press). Her work has been featured in a host of regional and national print, radio, live video, and TV news outlets including NPR, The Washington PostThe Oregonian, Left of Black, and Huffington Post Live.  She has presented her research at colleges, universities, and conferences throughout the U.S., Cuba and Canada. Miller blogs for Huffington Post, Jennings Wire and Monica also is editing Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion, the first book in the Culture on the Edge book series. Follow Monica on Twitter. Learn more about Monica here. Read more from Monica in the Culture on the Edge vault.

Steven Ramey is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Director of Asian Studies at the University of Alabama. His bookHindu Sufi or Sikh (Palgrave, 2008) focuses on communities who identify as Sindhi Hindus and the ways they contest dominant understandings of identities, both in India and beyond. His newest project addresses the assumptions in the language of religious labels and the ways those assumptions determine research and valorize particular constructions of religions. He blogs for The Huffington Post and the Bulletin for the Study of Religion and serves as the Series Editor of Culture on the Edge: Studies in Identity Formation, a book series with Equinox Publishers. Read more from Steven on the relevance of the Humanities here. Learn more about Steven here. Read more from Steven in the Culture on the Edge vault.

K. Merinda Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at The University of Alabama. Her manuscript, Mary Prince and Her Sisters: Gender, Race, Migration, and the Problem of Authenticity, has recently been contracted by Ohio State University Press and her other books include Studying Religion: A Reader (Acumen, forthcoming) and the co-edited Race and Displacement (The University of Alabama Press, 2013). She is also the co-editor (along with Houston Baker) for the newly contracted collection, The Trouble with Post-Blackness(Columbia University Press), examining the assumptions that make possible the ideal of “post-blackness” that many media moguls, politicians, and public intellectuals have now adopted. Her areas of research and publication incorporate literary and religious studies, with critical emphases in Southern Studies, gender theory, feminist philosophy, as well as postcolonial literary theory. Merinda is currently conducting grant-funded research on negotiations of “religion” as a system of social exchange in 18th and 19th-century Southern U.S. port cities. Read more from Merinda on the relevance of the Humanities here. Learn more about Merinda here. Read more from Merinda in the Culture on the Edge vault.

Leslie Dorrough Smith is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Avila University (Kansas City, MO). She has just finished a book manuscript, contracted by Oxford University Press, that explores the uses for rhetorics of chaos within such groups as Concerned Women for America, one of the nation’s most powerful and vocal conservative Christian groups. Among her articles are: “Divine Order, Divine Myth: Uncovering the Mythical Construction of Gender Ideals in Protestant Fundamentalist Circles” (ARCThe Journal of the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, 2002) and “What’s in a Name?: Scholarship and the Pathology of Conservative Protestantism” (Method & Theory in the Study of Religion, 2008), and a chapter in After the Passion is Gone: American Religious Consequences (AltaMira Press, 2004) entitled “Living In the World, But Not of the World: Understanding Evangelical Support for ‘The Passion of the Christ’.” Leslie is also a contributor to Craig Martin and Russell T. McCutcheon’s edited book, Religious Experience: A Reader (Equinox). Learn more about Leslie here. Who is Leslie Dorrough Smith?  Read more from Leslie in the Culture on the Edgevault.

Vaia Touna earned her BA and MA at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, in the study of Hellenistic religions, and ancient Greek literature, and her PhD at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. Her scholarly interests range widely, from looking at specific concepts of religion in the Classical and Hellenistic eras to methodological issues concerning the study of religion in general. Her research focuses on the sociology of identity formation with examples drawn from ancient, to modern Greece. Her books include Fabrications of the Greek Past: Religion, Tradition, and Modern Identities (forthcoming with Brill of the Netherlands), and she is the editor for Strategic Acts in the Study of Identity in the Culture on the Edge Book Series. Vaia also serves as the series editor of Working with Culture on the Edgebook series with Equinox Publishers. Learn more about Vaia here. Who is Vaia Touna? Read more from Vaia in the Culture on the Edge vault.