Global Politics and Religion Updates: New research, fellows, and programming

March 26, 2018

The Buffett Institute’s Global Politics and Religion (GPR) research group continues to grow and thrive as it enters its third year at the Buffett Institute:

2018 Luce/ACLS Fellow to join GPR

Joyce DalsheimIn March 2018, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) announced that Joyce Dalsheim, assistant professor of global studies at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, will join GPR as a Luce/ACLS Fellow in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs in residence at Northwestern starting in the 2018-2019 academic year.

During her fellowship, Dalsheim will be working on her project “Does Israel Have a Jewish Problem? On the Struggles to Be Jewish in the Modern Nation State” and will participate in GPR’s activities, including bringing its work to wider audiences, engaging with journalists, and publishing in venues accessible to a broader public.

Dalsheim’s research examines the processes through which sovereign ethnonational majorities are produced. Using stories from many different communities, her research reveals how different ways of being Jewish challenge the policies and practices of the Jewish state, and how, conversely, the existence of the Jewish state constrains the range of possible ways of being Jewish.

New projects funded by the Henry Luce Foundation

Last summer, GPR received the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs (RIJA) Grant for Universities, and now the group is gearing up to launch several projects in 2018 that will be funded by the $60,000 award.

The Talking 'Religion': Publics, Politics, and the Media project launched March 1, 2018. GPR directors Brannon Ingram and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd are preparing to co-teach a 300-level undergraduate course in the fall, “Reporting Islam,” which will combine readings in contemporary Islam and long-form journalism on Muslims with a ‘master class’ from a reporter with a religion beat. Manya Brachear Pashman, the religion reporter for the Chicago Tribune, will be participating in two sessions of the course and will lead the students on two site visits in Chicago.

New research and collaborations

GPR graduate student affiliate Matthew Smith (religious studies) was generously funded by a donation in memory of alum Lucille Wendell (WCAS ’48) to do research last summer, and the results were recently published in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Religion. His article, “Settler Colonialism, Race, and Gender in US Home Missions” examines how Home Missions, a white Protestant missionary movement in the United States, developed and shifted through a long history of US imperial expansion, settlement, and conquest. The article explains how Anglo-Protestants in the United States became invested in the movement to secure Christian supremacy on colonized land. The missionaries not only sought to transform the land into an Anglo-Protestant possession but also racialized people as foreign to maintain Anglo-Protestant sovereignty.

Hurd recently published an article in Intellectual History Review in a special issue on “Narratives of Secularization,” and contributed a chapter “Governing Religion as Right” in the book Human Rights Futures (Cambridge Press). She also published her introduction to a new special issue of the Journal of Religious and Political Practice, which is organized around responses to her 2017 book, Beyond Religious Freedom.

Hurd has written several articles to help public audiences better understand topics in the news that involve the intersection of religion, politics and US foreign policy, such as the series of Muslim travel bans imposed by the Trump administration and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Supporting the 2018 Buffett graduate student organized conference

Hurd also serves as the faculty advisor of the 2017 Buffett graduate student conference grant recipients James Howard Hill, Jr. (religious studies), Hafsa Oubou (anthropology), and Matt Smith (religious studies).

Politics of Movement: Racialization, Religion and Migration takes place at Northwestern on April 5 and 6. They have organized a conference whose subject matter both reflects and is influenced by the research activities of GPR:

“I am honored to advise this exceptional trio of graduate students,” Hurd says.“They have organized a conference at the cutting-edge of interdisciplinary research. We are grateful to the Buffett Institute for facilitating and funding this event, and for contributing to forming the next generation of top scholars working on these timely, indeed urgent, global challenges.”

For Graduate Students, Religion