In 1979, just as the Cultural Revolution was ending, Angela Zito spent three years in Beijing doing historical research on the social and political importance of rituals performed by the emperor. During that time, she also worked as dayside copy editor for The China Daily, China’s English-language newspaper, and then as a “newstaster” for the Reuter’s bureau. Having received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, she now teaches anthropology and religious studies at NYU, where she has also co-directs the Center for Religion and Media. Her longest-standing scholarly interest remains the relationship between the psyche and the soma—how do human beings (mammals with imaginations!) deal with their imaginative capacities, make worlds and live with themselves and one another? How do we mediate these relationships, starting with the gestures of the body and the intricacies of language? People experience the world through their bodies in social practice: diet, sex and gender mores, the physical environment, both built and non-built, rhythms of household life and intimate relationships, communal ritual, work, art. Human life is organized, often at psychic and social remove, through embodied subjectification. The human person becomes both object and subject through discipline, training and practice. Much of her work in research and writing, and most recently video-making, circles round these issues. Her website is www.angelazito.com
In addition to her role as co-director of the Center for Religion and Media, Faye Ginsburg is David Kriser Professor of Anthropology, founding and ongoing Director of the Center for Media, Culture and History, founder of the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Culture and Media, and founding co-Director of the NYU Council for the Study of Disabilities. Her work over the years as a filmmaker, writer and curator has focused on movements for social transformation, and the key role played by cultural activists in these processes, from her multiple award winning book, Contested Lives: The Abortion Debate in an American Community, to her several edited collections on reproduction and gender, to her groundbreaking collection, Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, to her forthcoming book, Mediating Culture: Indigenous Media in a Digital Age. She is recipient of numerous awards for her work including research support and Fellowships from the MacArthur, Guggenheim, Spencer, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, as well as support from the Pew Charitable Trusts for the inauguration of the Center for Religion and Media. She is currently working on research on Cultural Innovation and Learning Disabilities. Dr. Ginsburg is also a Vice-President of the Dysautonomia Foundation.
Pegi Vail is an anthropologist, filmmaker, and curator. Her current academic work focuses on the political economy of tourism in the developing world, exploring the role travel stories in print and media have in shaping experience and destination perspectives. Right of Passage, a book based on this research among backpackers in Bolivia, is forthcoming (Duke University Press). Gringo Trails, her documentary-in-progress shot in West Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America looks at the long term impact of travelers and their narratives globally. Prior documentaries include the award-winning, The Dodger’s Sym-phony, broadcast on PBS/WNET and screened in New York and national museums, international festivals, and on Northwest Airlines. Vail teaches on Film and Culture at Columbia University and has previously taught documentary filmmaking through the NYU Department of Anthropology’s Culture and Media Program, on tourist productions in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and leads documentary workshops worldwide, most recently in Azerbaijan with the Soros Open Society. Vail is a former Fulbright scholar who serves as guest lecturer for the Columbia Alumni Travel Study Program, National Geographic, and Smithsonian. As a curator, she has collaborated with colleagues at NYC arts and cultural institutions such as the National Museum of the American Indian, American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and through organizations such as the The Moth, the storytelling collective she was a founding board member for. She currently serves on the Moth’s curatorial board and general council.
Program Coordinator and Editor, The Revealer
Kali Handelman comes to The Center for Religion and Media and The Revealer having spent ten years in New York City studying religion, cultural studies, and media. She received her BA in cultural and media studies from Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts and her MA in religious studies from Columbia University. Along with her formal academic pursuits, she brings with her experience working in visual art and independent publishing. Running throughout her work are interests in literature, visual art, architecture, politics, law, and religion, and an investment in exploring what these disciplines and categories have to offer one another. She views religion as a critical nexus for talking about politics, economics, representation, culture, technology, identity, and all of the other forces at work in forming communities and relationships.
She can be reached (and pitched!) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Center for Religion and Media Fellows and Visiting Scholars, by year:
Senior Research Scholar Patricia Spyer (Leiden University) spent her year at CRM working on her book, Orphaned Landscapes, based on ethnographic research in Indonesia on the religiously defined conflict that broke out in Ambon city, the Moluccas, in 1999 and the postconflict situation since 2002. The book is shaped by a number of related concerns, including the impact of mass and alternative media in the sedimentation of violence and the creation of the grounds for reconciliation and peace, the rhetorics and politics of the mediations of violence and postviolence, and the transformations in religious sensibility during and since the war.
During her time as Senior Fellow, Spyer gave invited lectures at NYU’s Anthropology Department and the Kevorkian Center, the New School Social for Social Science Research, Yale University, the University of Michigan, Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins University. Spyer also completed several article manuscripts, including “Blind Faith: Painting Christianity in Post-conflict Ambon, Indonesia” (under review), and “Christ at Large: Iconography and Territoriality in Postwar Ambon, Indonesia,” which will appear in Religion: Beyond a Concept, edited by Hent de Vries (2007, Fordham University Press).
With colleagues from CRM, NYU’s Anthropology Department, NYU School of Law, and others, Spyer helped organize and curate CRM’s annual conference, Signs of Crisis: Religious Conflict, Human Rights and the New Documentary Film in Southern Asia (May 17-19). She also helped organize and curate two follow-ups to this event: Circulating Culture: New Works from Indonesia and India, held on May 20th at New York’s Asia Society, and Transparansi: New Documentary Films from Indonesia, held from May 22-23 at Harvard University’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts.
Post-doctoral Fellow Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi (Princeton University) continued to develop his research project investigating imageries, motivations, and justifications associated with the anti- Muslim violence that broke out in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002. He completed three articles that have been submitted for publication: “About Prayer: Abjection and Repetition in an American Holiness Church;” “The Gujarat Pogrom: Sacrifice, Ahimsa, and Vegetarianism;” and “The Hyperbolic Vegetarian: Notes on a Fragile Subject in Gujarat.” In addition, Ghassem-Fachandi produced a photo-essay entitled “Word and Image in the Mimesis of Violence: Transgression and Circulation in Anti-Muslim violence.” While a Fellow, Ghassem- Fachandi was also offered, and accepted, a tenure-track position in Anthropology at Rutgers University.
Post-doctoral Fellow Rafael Sánchez (Amsterdam School of Social Science Research) made consid- erable progress revising the manuscript of his first book, Dancing Jacobins: A Genealogy of Latin American Populism (Venezuela), currently under advanced contract with Stanford University Press. Focused on Venezuela, Sánchez’s book traces the genealogy of the present Latin American predicament through a historical/anthropo- logical analysis of what he calls “monumental governmentality,” or the form of government corresponding to populism as an experience constitutive of Latin American modernity. Addressing these populist traditions of gov- ernment, which draw on a Jacobin Political Theology while relying on intensely mediatized forms of publicity, is crucial for understanding Latin America today, where such populist traditions are instantiated albeit in highly globalized contexts that modify the tradition by exposing it to novel circumstances.
Sánchez also wrote an essay entitled “Seized by the Spirit: The Mystical Foundation of Squatting Among Pentecostals in Caracas (Venezuela) Today,” based on fieldwork conducted in Caracas under the present Chavez regime, and he completed a book-length essay on “populism and the status of the community today.”
While a Fellow, Sánchez gave invited lectures in the anthropology departments of New York University, Columbia University (Franz Boas Seminar), and John Hopkins University, as well as the Graduate Workshop of Anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean (WALAC) at the University of Chicago. Sánchez participated as an invited speaker in the conference Living Together organized by Fordham University Press, in celebration of the launching of several new publications, including the collection Political Theologies, which contains an essay by him. He was also a panelist for a screening of the documentary film, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (see next page).
Finally, Sanchez was recently appointed to the position of Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow at The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Visiting Scholars: Alexandra Boutros, Jonathan Boyarin, Jeffrey Schandler
Senior Research Fellow Ann Burlein (Associate Professor, Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Charlotte) spent her year at CRM developing a new project on religion and science for a book tentatively entitled Religion, Science and Memory. Burlein’s research explores how developments in molecular medicine might change the ways that we think about our bodies, intimacy, belonging, and memory. The project, already well underway, involves a number of ethnographic case studies framed within a larger theoretical investigation that foregrounds the dialogue of religion and science, as well as issues of race and class.
The theoretical themes and interdisciplinary scope of Burlein’s current project have been powerfully shaped by her involvement in the Center’s working group on Body, Belief, and Bioethics. Among her case studies, Burlein is actively pursuing two of them as a direct result of discussions at CRM; appropriately, she has designed both case studies to put issues of pluralist dialogue at their heart.
Burlein completed several article manuscripts as a fellow, including an extension of her paper, “No Longer a Revolving Door: Death in the Science of Life,” which she presented at the Body Counts/Bodies Count conference in May. She also completed a paper entitled “Putting Together the Body We Do: Genetics, Religion, and the Secular Soul,” which is currently under peer review and will be presented as a public lecture at the Center for Applied Ethics at UNC-Charlotte, directed by Rosie Tong.
Post-doctoral fellow Vincent-Antonin Lepinay (MIT) has pursued his research on “The Media Production of Stem Cells,” comparing two regimes of demonstration—science and bioethics—around the ques- tion of life in the current stem cell controversy. By examining scientific and biomedical publications, as well as other media, Lepinay has begun to analyze the growing recognition by scientists and bioethicists of one another’s existence, a recognition that appears to bring the two disciplines closer together while confronting each party with high stakes and risky compromises. In addition, Lepinay is studying emerging stem cell theories that have strong political implications, thus linking his research to larger issues regarding the body and its politicization.
During his fellowship, Lepinay completed three articles for publication: “Accumulation and Capital in Gabriel Tarde’s Psychologie Economique” in Economy and Society (Summer 2006); “Les promesses des cellules souches. Scientifiques, familles et santé publique dans la controverse autour des stem cells aux USA” in Sociologie du Travail (June 2006); and “L’Economie Infinie de Gabriel Tarde” (co-authored with Bruno Latour), the preface for the new edition of Psychologie Economique by Gabriel Tarde (forthcoming, Fall 2006, Les Empecheurs de
Penser en Rond).
In April 2006, Lepinay was appointed Assistant Professor in the Science, Technology and Society Program at MIT.
While a post-doctoral fellow, Molly McGarry (Assistant Professor, History, University of California, Riverside) completed her first book, Ghosts of
Futures Past: Spiritualism and the Cultural Politics of Nineteenth-Century America (forthcoming, University of California Press]. The book examines 19th-century American Spiritualism, a popular religious movement conducted through communication with the spirits of the dead. Spiritualists re-enchanted technologies of modernity for spiritual contact, transforming new media into such phenomena as automatic writing, spiritual telegraphy, and spectral photography.
During her fellowship, McGarry began work on a new book manuscript entitled Sexual Sedition, in which she traces a genealogy of the current “war on terror” to the early years of the last century when the legal term “national emergency” was first invoked in the Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917-1918) and the Immigration Act (1917) in the wake of World War I and the Russian Revolution. Through an analysis of a series of legal cases and deportation hearings from these years, McGarry explores how sexuality, reproduction, and racial politics of the state intertwined with national security during wartime, particularly around representations of moral purity and secular sciences of the body.
McGarry also completed work on A Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies (LGBT/Q Studies) (forthcoming, Blackwell Publishing Inc.), a volume she co-edited with George Haggerty.
Among other activities over the last year, McGarry gave an invited lecture at the CUNY Graduate Center entitled “Sexual Sedition: From the Espionage Laws to the War on Terror.” She contributed to invited panels at New York University (“Body Counts/Bodies Count”) and the American Social History Project (“New Work on Gender, Sexuality, and the National Security State”).
Visiting Scholars: Gregg Bordowitz, Alisa Lebow
At the Center, post-doctoral fellow Greg Grieve completed a book entitled Retheorizing Religion in Nepal (2006, Palgrave Macmillan). The book uses an ethnographic account of prosaic religious practices in Bhaktapur, Nepal, to invite new ways of rethinking and rewriting such key categories in the study of religion as tradition, divinity, personhood, worship, experience, and agency. Grieve argues that these categories are intrinsically political since they are linked with colonial and postcolonial discourses about what constitutes legiti- mate and authentic religion.
Grieve published “Forging Mandalic Space: Bhaktapur, Nepal’s Cow Procession and the Improvisation of Tradition,” in Numen 2005, 51 (1): 1-45. He also completed a video project entitled “Ganesh Ratha Yatra: A Hindu Festival in Queens, New York (2004),” based on an annual chariot procession that celebrates Ganesh, the Hindu elephant-headed god, by parading him through a neighborhood in Flushing.
Grieve is also editing, Historicizing Tradition, with Steven Engler, which will be published in 2006 by Mouton de Gruyter of Berlin. Using a critical comparative framework, the goal of the volume is to historicize and critique “tradition” as a category in the historical and comparative study of religion. He has written the introduction and a chapter entitled “Histories of Tradition in Bhaktapur, Nepal: Or How to Compile a Contemporary Hindu Medieval City.”
Grieve continues work on two projects. The first, “Faithful History: Kamas, Utah’s Pioneer Day,” includes an academic article, website, and video documentary about a commemorative parade that has always acted as a barometer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), and the Mormon cultural sphere more broadly. The second project, “Mandala: Mediating Asian Religion and the Mystic East,” will become a book-length manuscript and documentary video that will trace how mandalas and Nepalese paintings have been used in the West to re-signify Asian religions as uniquely mystical and otherworldly.
Senior Research Scholar Heather Hendershot’s new book project on right-wing Cold War broadcasting focuses on the fundamentalist radio broadcaster Carl McIntire.
Hendershot spent much of her year at the Columbia University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, researching McIntire and other figures such as H.L. Hunt, Dan Smoot, and the Rev.
Billy James Hargis. She traveled to the National Archives in College Park, MD, to read the lengthy transcript of McIntire’s FCC hearing, and to Chicago to view television programs by Smoot and Hunt, as well as John Birch Society recruitment films. She presented a paper entitled “Panic, Paranoia, and Policy: Problematizing FCC Neutrality and Fundamentalist Irrationality,” at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference.
In fall 2004, at the American Academy of Religion meetings, Hendershot introduced the film Hell House and led a panel discussion after the screening hosted by CRM. In spring 2005, she
presented a paper entitled “Deciphering The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Holy War vs. Evangelical Modes of Representation” at the “Rhetorics of Holy War” conference at the University of California, Berkeley. Her essay “His Pain, Your Gain: Jesus, Masculinity,
and Evangelical Support for The Passion of the Christ” was solicited for
Passion Stories, a book to be edited by Lowell Gallagher and Alice Dailey.
In addition to writing book reviews for the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and Film Quarterly, Hendershot wrote three essays for the on-line TV Studies journal Flow. She also gave invited seminar presentations at Columbia University and New York University. Finally, she recently learned that her acclaimed book on evangelical Christian media—Shaking the World for Jesus—will be translated into Turkish.
Post-doctoral fellow Jane Iwamura completed revisions for her book, The Oriental Monk in American Popular Culture: Race, Religion, and Representation in the Age of VirtualOrientalism. Sheincludedadditionalresearchkeyin establishing an audio-visual “library” of images and clips that will be used for a companion website.
Iwamura also spent her year at CRM getting two new projects offtheground. Thefirst,“AltaredStates:TheJapanese American Home Shrine,” has received a start-up grant from the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC. The second project, “The Flesh Made Word: Reading Religion in the Literatures of Asian America,” is a volume co-edited with JamesKyung-JinLee(UCSantaBarbara). Duringthepast year, Iwamura and Dr. Lee have organized two panels—one for the Association for Asian American Studies (April 2005) and the other for the Modern Literary Association (December 2005)—whose papers will comprise the collection.
Iwamura is co-authoring a paper with Janelle Wong (Political Science, USC) entitled “Religion as a Group-Based Political Resource for Asian Americans.” Based on recent data from the Pilot National Asian American Political Survey, it explores the nexus of religion and conservative politics in the Asian American community. It will be published in the volume, Religion and Social Justice for Immigrants, edited by Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo.
During the fellowship year, Iwamura submitted a new course for approval at USC entitled “Religion and Popular Culture
in America,” and she is developing with Nancy Lutkehaus (Anthropology, USC) a graduate course, “Picturing Paradise: Western Visions of Hawai’i and the South Seas,” for consideration under the Literary, Visual, and Material Cultures Initiative in the spring of 2006.
Finally, Iwamura will also be collaborating with fellow CRM post-doctoral fellow Greg Grieve on a chapter for a volume on teaching religion and film (edited by Gregory Watkins at Stanford University). The piece, “Mediating Liberation: Keanu Reeves and the Ideology of the Middle Way,” will look at
the ways in which the popular star and his films (The Matrix, Little Buddha, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Constantine) mediate contemporary views of spiritual and political liberation, while tapping into romantic notions of Eastern spirituality and ethnic primitivism.
Senior research scholar Elizabeth A. Castelli began a new project, “The Persecuted Church: Toward a Genealogy of a Political Program,” which explores contemporary U.S. Christian activism around religious persecution world-wide and the impact of that activism on U.S. foreign policy, human rights discourses, and first-world Christian self-understanding. Articles on this project will soon appear in an issue of
The Journal of Human Rights devoted to the persecution of Christians in the contemporary world, and in differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. “Shockwave! New Media Warriors Try to Shake the World,” an online article on Christian youth activism appeared in The Revealer (www.therevealer.org) on March 4, 2004.
During her residency, Castelli also completed two books:
Martyrdom and Memory: Early Christian Culture Making
(Columbia University Press, September 2004), and an edited volume, Interventions: Activists and Academics Respond to Violence (Palgrave, November 2004). She guest-edited a volume of The Scholar and Feminist Online, the electronic journal of the Center for Research on Women at Barnard (www.barnard.edu/sfonline/reverb). She also inaugurated a new journal, Postscripts: Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds, which she will edit with Equinox Publishers (UK); the first issue is scheduled to appear in Spring 2005. Several CRM scholars will serve on the journal’s editorial board, and a special issue of the journal will feature work developed from discussions in the Religion, Human Rights, and Media working group.
Castelli lectured on Christian martyrdom and the politics of persecution at Ohio State University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Texas, and Brown University. She also gave public presentations on Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, in both academic and community settings. In September 2004, Castelli returns to the Religion Department at Barnard College, where she is an associate professor.
Post-doctoral fellow Mazyar Lotfalian’s research on Iranian artists and Islam focuses on “visual artistic represen- tation of war, martyrdom, and the reconstruction of post-trauma society.” During his fellowship year, Lotfalian helped curate the Arteast Middle East film festival and made presentations on Ta’ziyeh (an Islamic passion play) and Iranian media at the Visual Anthropology Workshop of the German Association for Anthropology, and the Center for Religion and Media workshop on “War, Religion, & Spectacles of Suffering.” He organized a panel, “A New Landscape for Iranian Cultural Studies: Material Culture, Technologies, Discourses, Figures, and Poetics of Utopia,” for the conference for Iranian Studies in Bethesda, Maryland.
Lotfalian’s book, Islam, Technoscientific Identities, and the Culture of Curiosity (University Press of America) will be published this year. In 2004-2005, he will be a visiting lecturer at Yale University.
Post-doctoral fellow Jeremy Stolow explored the cultural politics of Jewish Orthodox print media, with a focus on ArtScroll Publications, a major English-language Judaica publishing house. Stolow’s New York fieldwork built upon extensive research done in London and Toronto. His book manuscript is provisionally entitled “Orthodox By Design.”
Forthcoming articles include “Transnationalism and the New Religio-Politics: Reflections on a Jewish Orthodox Case,” in Theory, Culture and Society (April 2004) and “Communicating Authority, Consuming Tradition: Jewish Orthodox Outreach Literature and its Reading Public,” in Religion, Media and the Public Sphere, edited by Birgit Meyer and Annelies Moors (forthcoming, Indiana University Press).
Stolow has begun work on relationships between the invention of the telegraph and the rise of the modern Spiritualist move- ment. In connection with this project, he and Mazyar Lotfalian are co-editing an anthology on religion and technology. For the interactive curriculum website developed by the working group on Jews, Religion, and Media (see p. 7), Stolow is creating a module on Jewish Texts and Reading Practices.
In September 2004, Stolow returns to Canada as assistant professor of sociology and communication studies at McMaster University. In the summer of 2005, he will take up a fellowship in Amsterdam to participate in a project entitled “Modern Mass Media, Religion, and the Imagination of Communities,” directed by Birgit Meyer.
Somewhere along the way, Jeremy discovered that he will be a new parent. He and his partner, Danielle Filion, are adopting a baby girl from Armenia!