Participant Biographies

Wallace Best
Wallace Best is Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University.  His research and teaching center on African American religious history, religion and literature, Pentecostalism, the Nation of Islam, religion, gender and sexuality, and Womanist theology. He is the author of Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915-1952, Princeton University Press. He is currently at work on two books: an anthology entitled Elder Lucy Smith: Documents from the Life of a Pentecostal Woman Preacher and an exploration of the religious thought of the poet Langston Hughes, entitled Langston’s Salvation: American Religion and the Bard of Harlem.

Vaughn Booker
Vaughn Booker is a graduate student in the Religion in the Americas subfield in the Department of Religion at Princeton University and is also completing a Graduate Certificate in African American Studies.  He focuses on the historical study of twentieth-century African American religions, with particular interests in the religious construction of “race histories”, African American women’s religious leadership, and the intersection of racial representation, religious practice, and political activism among professional American musicians.  He is at work on a dissertation titled,  “From Virtuosos to Ancestors: Expressing Belief and Representing Race among African-American Jazz Musicians.”

Ann Braude
Ann Braude serves as the director of the Women’s Studies in Religion Program and as Senior Lecturer on American Religious History at Harvard Divinity School. Her primary interest is the religious history of American women. Her first book, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-century America, explores the engagement between the women’s rights movement and the religious movement focused on contact with spirits of the dead. Ann Braude is also the author of Sisters and Saints: Women and American Religion, a history of the religion of American women for a general audience. She also has an interest in the issues surrounding the study of Native American religions, and is engaged in an ongoing research project concerning a Cheyenne child taken captive at the Sand Creek Massacre.

Anthea Butler
Anthea Butler is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Graduate Chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Women in the Church of God in Christ, Making A Sanctified World (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) which chronicles the history of African American women’s religious lives, and civic engagement in the Church of God in Christ, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States. Professor Butler’s forthcoming book, The Gospel According to Sarah: How Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are Galvanizing the Religious Right will be published by The New Press in 2014.  Her paper is titled, ” Picturing Race and Respectability: Photography and Home Missions in the U.S. South.”

Jessica Delgado
Jessica Delgado is Assistant Professor of Religion at Princeton University.  Her area of specialty is the history of religion in Latin America with a focus on Mexico in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Her research interests include women, gender, and sexuality, the Catholic Church in colonial society, race, caste, and religion, and the intersection between social and spiritual status in the early modern world. Her work on laywomen’s use of ecclesiastical courts to resolve domestic and marital disputes has appeared in Colonial Latin American Review, and she is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Troubling Devotion: Laywomen and the Church in Colonial Mexico.

Brandi Hughes
Brandi Hughes is an assistant professor of American Culture and History at the University of Michigan. She is a faculty fellow of Princeton’s Davis Center for Historical Studies during the 2013-2014 academic year. Her research and teaching examine the role of religion in the political cultures of the post-emancipation US and the significance of Christianity in the cultural and political developments of African diaspora. Her manuscript, At the Cross: Redeeming Emancipation in the Mission Fields of African America, studies the contested ends of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in African American missions to colonial Africa.  Her paper is titled, “Black Grievance in the Remnant.”

Sarah Imhoff
Sarah Imhoff is Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department and Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University. Her research focuses on gender, race, and American Judaism in both contemporary and historical contexts. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Religion, American Jewish History, and Religious Studies Review, and she is currently completing a manuscript entitled Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism.  She will present a paper titled “Race and the Genetic Jew.”

Jane Iwamura
Jane Naomi Iwamura is Associate Professor and Chair of the Religious Studies department at the University of the West.  Her research focuses on Asian American religions, race and popular culture in the United States (with an emphasis on visual culture). Her publications include Virtual Orientalism: Religion and Popular Culture in the U.S. (Oxford 2011) and the co-edited volume, Revealing the Sacred in Asian and Pacific America (Routledge 2003). She has also written on Japanese American lived religions, as well as the intersection of religion and Asian American literary production. Her paper is titled, “
American Dreams: Race, Religion, and Film.”

John L. Jackson, Jr.
John L. Jackson, Jr., is the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication, Anthropology & Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, with appointments in the Annenberg School for Communication and the Departments of Anthropology and Africana Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences.  He is the author of Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem(Harvard, 2013),  Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic, 2008); Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005); and Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001). In addition, Jackson is a filmmaker, most recently co-director (with Deborah Thomas, Professor of Anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences) of Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel), which examines the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its iconic Rastafarian community. He is currently beginning a long-term project in Theatrical Ethnography, bringing social scientific data to the stage.  His paper is titled, “Eden Rock: Popular Culture, Veganism, and the Creation of a New Kingdom in Contemporary Philadelphia.”

Sylvester Johnson
Sylvester Johnson is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Religious Studies at Northwestern University. His research examines religion, race, and empire. Johnson recently completed the manuscript for “African American Religion, 1500-2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom,” to be published by Cambridge University Press. He is Co-Editor of the Journal of Africana Religions. Johnson co-directs (with Tracy Leavelle) a working group on Religion and US Empire and is co-editing a volume on “Religion and the FBI” (with Steve Weitzman). His Myth of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity was awarded the American Academy of Religion’s Best First Book Award. He has recently begun work on a scholarly edition of Samuel Purchas’s Purchas His Pilgrimage (1626).  He will present a paper titled “Black Religion, Colonial Governance, and the Racialization of Islam.”

Kathi Kern
Kathi Kern is Associate Professor of History and an affiliated member of the Gender Women’s Studies Program at the University of Kentucky.  research centers on the women’s rights movement in nineteenth-century America and focuses particularly on the ways in which politics, gender, and religion have mixed to create new ideological positions and social change in the United States. She is the author of several articles as well as the book, Mrs. Stanton’s Bible (Cornell University Press, 2001), which was selected by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book for 2001. In 2009-2010, Dr. Kern served as the Stanley Kelley, Jr., Visiting Distinguished Professor of Teaching at Princeton University. Since 2010, Kern has served as the inaugural Director of The Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at the University of Kentucky. She is currently at work on Religious Cosmopolitanism and the US Women’s Rights Movement. This study offers a transnational angle of the evolution of American feminism, specifically examining the impact of American feminists’ engagement with India—its people, religious practices, and its campaign for independence—on American women’s struggles for emancipation, 1880-1960. Her paper is titled, “What Would Gandhi Do? Transnational Influences on Christian Commitments to Racial Justice”

David Kyuman Kim
David Kyuman Kim is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies at Connecticut College, where he served as the College’s Inaugural Director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity.  He is the author of Melancholic Freedom: Agency and the Spirit of Politics (Oxford 2007), and co-edited most recently The Post-Secular in Question (NYU 2012) and, with John L. Jackson, Jr., a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on race, religion, and late democracy.  From 2009-2012, Kim served as Senior Advisor to the Social Science Research Council’s Program on Religion and the Public Sphere.  He is also editor-at-large for The Immanent Frame, the SSRC’s blog on secularism, religion, and the public sphere.  In 2009, he was the Inaugural Visiting Professor of the Humanities at the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University.  Along with John L. Jackson, Jr., Kim is co-editor of the Stanford University Press book series RaceReligion.  His current book project is The Public Life of Love.

Rachel McBride Lindsey
Rachel McBride Lindsey is Associate Director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.  Her research and teaching focus on material and visual cultures in American history, particularly the role of material artifacts in practices of representation. Her current book project is entitled A Communion of Shadows: Vernacular Photography in Nineteenth-Century American Religion and explores how Americans adapted and contributed to the new visual technologies of the nineteenth century in ways that redefined devotional practices, visual habits, modes of biblical instruction, and vocabularies of self, community, and nation.  She will present a paper on race, religion, and photography.

Michael D. McNally
Michael D.McNally is Professor of Religion at Carleton College.  He is the author of Honoring Elders: Aging, Authority and Ojibwe Religion (Columba U. Press, 2009), Ojibwe Singers: Hymns, Grief, and a Native Culture in Motion (Oxford U. Press, 2000), and a range of articles pertaining Native American traditions and American religious history.  He is currently exploring the intersection between Native American traditions, the category of “religion,” and a range of fields of the law (First Amendment, treaty-based federal Indian law, cultural property law, civil rights law, international human rights law), where indigenous claims are made. He will present a paper on “Race, Law, and Native American ‘Religions.”

Kelsey Moss
Kelsey Moss is a graduate student in the Religion in the Americas subfield in the Department of Religion at Princeton University with concentrations in African American and Latin American Studies.  She focuses on European programs of conversion and the processes of spiritual change for African slaves and Native Americans during the colonial period in the Atlantic World. Her wider interests include African American religious and political thought, African Diaspora Studies, the African experience in Latin America and the role of religion in the development of individual and communal identities.

Quincy D. Newell
Quincy D. Newell is an associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming.  She specializes in the religious history of the American West.  Newell is the author of Constructing Lives at Mission San Francisco, 1776-1821 (University of New Mexico Press, 2009) and the co-editor of New Perspectives in Mormon Studies (University of Oklahoma Press, 2013). Her current projects concern the religious experiences of nineteenth-century African American and Native American Mormons.  Her paper is titled, “The Afterlife of Jane James: Remembering and Forgetting an African American Woman in the LDS Church.”

Leslie Ribovich
Leslie Ribovich is a a graduate student in the Religion in the Americas subfield in the Department of Religion at Princeton University.  Her interests include the relationship of church and state in the United States, contemporary character education programs, the history of teaching morality in schools, gender, virtue theory, and religion in the public sphere.  She is the organizer of an ongoing series of events this year on the Ethics and Politics of Ethnography.

Irene Elizabeth Stroud
Beth Stroud is a graduate student in the Religion in the Americas subfield in the Department of Religion at Princeton University.  She is interested in the history of liberal American Protestantism, especially the fissures and contradictions between academic theology, religious social action, and everyday lay religious practice.  She also has a strong interest in African-American religion and cities. While completing her S.T.M., she worked as a research assistant on Faith on the Avenue, Dr. Katie Day’s ongoing study of nearly 100 congregations on a single city street in Philadelphia.

Judith Weisenfeld
Judith Weisenfeld is Professor of Religion and Associate Faculty in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University.  A specialist in early twentieth-century African American religious history, she is the author of Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929-1949 (California, 2007) and African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945 (Harvard, 1997). She is currently working on a project titled Apostles of Race: Religion and Black Racial Identity in the Urban North

Department of Religion – Princeton University

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