Chapter 3

In the Fall of 2017 the core group was expanded and our efforts working with select cross-disciplinary readings. The members of this phase are:

Andie Alexander is a doctoral candidate in the Institute for the Study of Religion at Leibniz University Hannover. Her research focuses on identity construction and boundary formation as a way to examine the experience rhetoric in pro-immigration discourses and how such rhetoric ultimately works to Americanize immigrants in the US.  She is co-editor (with Jason W. M. Ellsworth) of Fabricating Authenticity (Equinox, forthcoming) and is Managing Editor of The Religious Studies Project. She joined Culture on the Edge in 2013 as its online Curator, and as of 2017, has also become a contributor. Read Andie’s posts here.

Tara Baldrick-Morrone is is a Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she teaches introductory courses on world religions and religion and film. Her research looks at the interplay between the ancient Mediterranean world and twentieth-century American politics, with a particular focus on how Christians talk about abortion. Read Tara’s posts here.

Christopher Cotter is Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He is Co-Founder of the Religious Studies Project, Co-Director at the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network and Honorary Treasurer of the British Association for the Study of Religions. His research interests include ‘non-religion’, ‘the secular’ and related categories, qualitative methods, discourse analysis, spatial approaches, critical theory, and Religious Studies as a discipline. He is co-editor of Social Identities between the Sacred and the Secular (2013), After World Religions: Reconstructing Religious Studies (2016), and New Atheism: Critical Perspectives and Contemporary Debates (2017). Read Chris’s posts here.

Jason W. M. Ellsworth is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology and Social Anthropology Department at Dalhousie University and is a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Prince Edward Island in both the Religious Studies and Sociology & Anthropology Departments. His research interests include the anthropology of religion, Buddhism in North America, marketing & economy, the anthropology of food, and transnationalism. He is co-editor (with Andie Alexander) of Fabricating Authenticity (Equinox, forthcoming), volume 4 of the Working With Culture on the Edge, a book series edited by Vaia Touna. Read Jason’s posts here.

Anja Kirsch received her Ph.D. from the University of Basel, Switzerland, with a dissertation on character education in a secular state. She is a post-doctoral researcher in the Study of Religions at the University of Basel and the program coordinator of two joint doctoral programs in the Study of Religions and Theology. Her research interests include atheism and the modern criticism of religion; narrative cultures, efficacy, and plausibility in literary aesthetics; the conceptual history of religion in modernity; and questions of historiography. She is currently working on religious and political utopian thought, narratives of revolution and processes of transatlantic migration in the long nineteenth-century European history of religions. Read Anja’s posts here.

Craig Martin is a Professor of Religious Studies at St. Thomas Aquinas College. His research focuses on method and theory in the study of religion, particularly discourse analysis and ideology critique. His recent books include Capitalizing Religion: Ideology and the Opiate of the Bourgeoisie, A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion, and (co-edited with Brad Stoddard), Stereotyping Religion: Critiquing Clichés. Read Craig’s posts here.

Russell T. McCutcheon who earned his Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of Toronto, is University Research Professor at the University of Alabama and author of a variety of books which all focus on methodological and theoretical issues in the study of religion. Blogging also at his Department’s website, where he is Chair, his work is concerned with the interplay of agency and structure and the manner in which specific subjectivities and experiences are made possible. Read Russell’s posts here.

Richard Newton is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. His scholarship focuses on the anthropology of scriptures. He is the author of Identifying Roots: Alex Haley and the Anthropology of Scriptures (Equinox, 2020). He also curates the student-scholar collaborative blog, Sowing the Seed: Fruitful Conversations in Religion, Culture, and Teaching. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @seedpods. Read Richard’s posts here.

Steven Ramey is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where he also directs the Asian Studies program. His most recent edited volume, Fabricating Difference (Equinox 2017), draws on his expertise in contemporary identifications in India to analyze the ways differences between groups are constructed generally, particularly in relation to contemporary discourse on Islam. Read Steven’s posts here.

Matt Sheedy holds a Ph.D. in the study of religion, and lecturers at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. He is also a visiting professor in the department of North American Studies at the University of Bonn. His research interests include critical social theory, theories of secularism and atheism, as well as representations of Christianity, Islam, and Native traditions in popular and political culture. He is currently working on a book called Contesting the Secular: Religious Symbols, Identity Politics, and the Fragility of “Western” Values. Read Matt’s posts here.

K. Merinda Simmons is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. Her books include Changing the Subject: Writing Women across the African Diaspora (Ohio State UP, 2014), The Trouble with Post-Blackness (co-edited with Houston A. Baker, Jr., Columbia UP, 2015), and Race and New Modernisms (co-authored with James A. Crank, Bloomsbury, 2019). She is working on a monograph entitled Sourcing Slave Religion: Theorizing Experience in the American South, as well as a co-authored book: Gender: A Critical Primer (with Craig Martin, Equinox Publishing). She is the editor of the book series Concepts in the Study of Religion: Critical Primers. Read Merinda’s posts here.

Leslie Dorrough Smith is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Avila University (Kansas City, MO), where she is also the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program. In addition to numerous articles, chapters, and essays, is the author of Compromising Positions: Sex Scandals, Politics, and American Christianity (Oxford, 2019) and Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America (Oxford, 2014). Her research interests focus on American conservative Protestants, critical theory, and the use of method and theory in both religious studies and gender studies. Read Leslie’s posts here.

Martie Smith is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Fullerton College in Southern California. Her current research and teaching interests include North American religious diversity and pluralism, race and ethnicity studies, diversity and social justice. Her courses focus on the diversity of the American religious landscape, especially the ways in which race, gender, and ethnicity are connected to religious identities and the significance of material culture and lived religious experience in American life. Read Martie’s posts here.

Stacie A. Swain is a doctoral student in Political Science specializing in the Cultural, Social, and Political Thought program at the University of Victoria. Her research examines discourses on religion, spirituality, culture, and identity in relation to sovereignty and governance, focusing upon contemporary Indigenous-Canadian relations. Stacie is broadly interested in settler colonialism, social and political theories, critical discourse analysis, and interdisciplinarity. She also co-edits the blog of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion. Read Stacie’s posts here.

Teemu Taira is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Study of Religions, University of Helsinki and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Comparative Religion, University of Turku, Finland. He is committee member of European Association for the Study of Religions and the reviews editor of Temenos: Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion. Teemu’s recent research interests concern discursive study of the category of ‘religion’, religion in the media, and atheist identifications. His publications include studies in all three areas, particularly in Finnish and British contexts. He is author of five monographs and more than 60 scholarly articles. He can be found on Twitter @TeemuTaira and one of his Religious Studies Project interviews can be found here. A very short introduction to some of his ideas can be found here. Read Teemu’s posts here.

Vaia Touna is 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. Vaia is author of the Fabrications of the Greek Past: Religion, Tradition, and the Making of Modern Identities, 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 Edge, a book series with Equinox Publishers. Read Vaia’s posts here.