Dear Friends,

The Religion & Human Sciences workshop is excited it announce its schedule for this Fall quarter! We’ll meet on Tuesdays from 5 to 6:30pm either in Swift 208 or in the Marty Center Library, as indicated below (the Martin Marty Center is located on the second floor of Swift Hall. The Library is at the end of the hall, on the left.) Our sessions begin on the Tuesday of 2nd week (Oct 4), and run weekly through the Tuesday of 8th week (Nov 15). Snacks and drinks are always provided!

Our theme for the year is Public Religion (i.e. when public officials cite religion to support policy; religion’s status within publics and/or counterpublics; and how new media may be re-casting the entire private/public divide.) Please see our schedule below and send your thoughts, concerns, quips to Andrew at

Our presenters:

(Oct 4 – S208) J Barton Scott, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Department for the Study of Religion, will discuss his recent work on the Public and defamation in South Asia, part of which was recently published in the Special Issue of South Asia: The Journal of South Asian Studies, ‘What is a Public? Some Notes from South Asia.’

(Oct 11 – S208) Kajri JainAssociate Professor of Indian Visual Culture and Contemporary Art at the University of Toronto, will also discuss the Public in South Asia. Jain’s first book, Gods in the Bazaar, and examined popular religious art in India, and her current research considers the role of religion in public, democratic aesthetics and the emergence of giant historical monuments in India since the 1990s.

(Oct 18 – S208) Dotan Leshem, senior lecturer in the School of Political Science at the University of Haifa, will discuss religion’s entrance into the publics sphere, as portrayed in his new book, The Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy From Jesus to Foucault.

Note: This will be a joint-workshop session with the Global Christianities Workshop.

(Oct 25 – Marty Lib.) Mennatallah Khalil, PhD candidate in Anthropology, will discuss her work on the use of religion in politics/for political legitimacy and public support in Egypt.

(Nov 1 – Marty Lib.) Will Kunert, MDiv 2017, will discuss his MDiv thesis on the movement to quantitatively measure the results of hospital chaplaincy. Hospital chaplaincy is one of the last fields to use quantitative research to analyze itself, or advocate for itself to public administrators. Many maintain that chaplaincy can’t be measured. Will investigates the quantitative research that has so far been done in hospital chaplaincy and the public ‘obsession’ with quantification.

(Nov 8 – Marty Lib.) Alireza Doostdar, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion, will discuss his working article on public screenings of ‘spiritual films’ in Iran, and recent Satanic accusations in response to the films.

(Nov 15 – Marty Lib.) Sahm Myung Suh, PhD candidate in ASR, will discuss his article, ‘Broadcasting the Good News through the Bamboo Curtain’; FEBC and its Spiritual Cold War, on Christian radio broadcasting in East Asia. See the abstract:

The Far Eastern Broadcasting Company is an American-born, global radio ministry network originally established in the wake of the Cold War to transmit the Christian Gospel behind the ‘Bamboo Curtain.’ Co-founded by an evangelical radio broadcaster, Robert Bowman, and an ex-Navy intelligence officer, John C. Broger, the FEBC made it its mission to provide spiritual nourishment to hidden or anonymous Christians who were imagined to profess Christian faith in private secrecy under communist rule, as well as to ward off the advancement of communism in the broad Asian region through faith-based propaganda war. By tracing the historical development of the FEBC during the Cold War, the paper I propose to present in the upcoming ISMRC conference will explore the ways in which the lines between the private and the public spheres become blurred in the cycle of production, transmission, and reception of the politically and religiously charged sound media. The enterprise of making radio stations in various parts of the world and producing multi-language programs evidently took place in the public sphere, which involves a great deal of efforts at raising funds, negotiating with local authorities, and overcoming various technological problems and challenges. Meanwhile, the messages were sent out to penetrate the ‘Bamboo Curtain,’ and the intended audience was expected to listen to them in private and ultimately create what may be called the ‘counter-public.’

Hope to see you there!