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Message from the Chair

Religion shapes the lives of individuals in ways that relate in many different ways to culture, law, health, politics, and art. These influences are not always mutual, visible, and at times even desirable.

During the early decades of Emory University at Oxford, research and teaching of Religion focused primarily on the study of theology. Currently, our department is a place where scholars of all ages and ranks raise a host of different questions about the central role of religion in everyday life. Thus, for instance,

  • How have racism and religious institutions unfolded in correspondence with each other? How do anti-Blackness and antisemitism overlap?
  • How is Black Love resistance to America’s war on black marriage? How do performative acts contribute to a different kind of marriage in latinidad?
  • What are sacred drugs? What role do they play in religious experiences formally recognized, and not?
  • How do Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and other religions stand in relation to women? To non-binary, gender unaligned subjects?
  • What role can religion play in better understanding and experiencing life and death?
  • Theodicy is the theological explanation of suffering. How do biblical, literary, philosophical, and sociology of religion texts articulate a “beyond theodicy”?
  • Where is religion in carceral states? In courthouses? In legislative chambers and constitutional texts?
  • What role does religion play in hospitals, health, and healing? What role should religion not play in hospitals, health, and healing?
  • How do religious principles inform, and are informed by, the shaping of heroes? Of heroins? Of superstition? Of stigmatized bodies? Of saintly figures? Of mobility? Of indigenization?
  • What is human goodness?
  • What is the science of contemplation? Is yoga religious?
  • How is religion central to life itself? How has that centrality been manipulated for agendas other than those stipulated in the principles of religion itself?

These and other questions have been raised by our faculty and students in award-winning research that spans virtually every segment of society in numerous places and cultures in the world.

  • Ethiopian Jewish communities
  • Mexican pilgrims and heroes
  • Performers and Sanskrit readers in India
  • Mobile Pentecostal congregations in Mozambique
  • Black churches North and South in the United States
  • Rabbinic culture
  • Street protest
  • Yoga, contemplation, and meditation
  • Online preaching

Religion faculty and students bring forth their questions in a host of different media and platforms

  • Academic monographs and journals
  • Podcasting and online journals
  • Interviews in mainstream media such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Oprah Daily, LA Times, and NBC News
  • Social media chronicling and posting
  • Museum exhibits
  • Ambassadorial work in the White House
  • Documentary films
  • Websites

With this work, our faculty and students do not seek to proselytize, to preach, or to sell any particular religious brand. Rather, through rigorous textual, historical, and ethnographic analysis we seek to produce and apply knowledge that empowers people, especially those not justly represented in world societies

In our daily lives inside and out of the classroom we seek to empower students and all members of the Emory community and beyond. Our majors go on to study medicine, law, public health, business, and to become professionals in any and all areas of the societies in which they live.

I sincerely welcome you to the Department of Religion at Emory University, where rigor, excellence, creativity, and commitment to a life of the spirit and the mind is more than a mantra. It's a way of life. We hope you’ll visit our classes, enroll in them, study with us, and take with you all kinds of thoughts, feelings, and different ways of understanding and experiencing life and death.

María M. Carrión