March Madness is an opportunity for college basketball fans to look around the United States at teams that they don’t usually follow and learn about players, coaches, and stories. At Global Theology, I wanted to take a look at the faculty teaching in religious studies, theology, Biblical studies, and related fields to form my own “bracket”. Each person highlighted has a brief description (usually from the school’s department page) and link to a blog, article, video, or book where you can learn more about them.
Michigan (3): Dierdre de la Cruz
Deirdre de la Cruz specializes in the cultures and histories of Southeast Asia, in particular the Philippines. Her current book project is a historical and ethnographic examination of several apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, especially as they articulate with projects and practices of colonial and post-colonial modernity. In addition to Philippine history and ethnography, her research interests include theories of religion, colonialism and post-colonialism, visual culture, histories and theories of the mass media, and global occultisms.
Gonzaga University (4): Patrick Wanakuta Baraza
Dr. Baraza is an ordained priest from the diocese of Kitale, Kenya. He has been teaching African Catholicism and Islamic Civilization in the Religious Studies Department at Gonzaga University since 2005. He is the author of “Rival Claims for the Soul of Africa” as well as “Drumming up Dialogue: The Bukusu Model for the World“.
Texas A&M (7): N. Fadeke Castor
Dr. N. Fadeke Castor is a Black Feminist anthropologist, African Diaspora Studies scholar, and Assistant Professor in Anthropology and Africana at Texas A&M University. Her current research and teaching interests include religion, performance, social identities (esp. race, gender, class), citizenship, identity and representation in popular/public culture, and decolonization, in the African Diaspora (specifically in the Caribbean and West Africa). Dr. Castor is also initiated in the Yoruba diasporic religion to Ifá, Obatala, and Egbe where she holds the titles Omo Awo Fadeke and Iyalode Egbefunmilayo.
In her written work she explores emerging forms of cultural citizenship with special attention to the performance of decolonizing practices and intersections of identity. Her new project, Black Spirits Matter, looks at the interplay of African diasporic religions, social justice, and transnationalism as an example of spiritual citizenship in action.
“I Am because They Are: Devotion and Intimacy in Trinidad Orisha” (Video lecture)
Florida State (9): Jamil Drake
Jamil Drake specializes in American religious history with particular interests in 20th century African-American religious cultures; religion and politics; and religion and popular culture. More specifically, he is interested in questions around religion and racial identity in the U.S. He is currently writing a history of race and class in American religion tentatively entitled, To Know the Soul of the People: American Folk Studies and Racial Politics of Popular Religion, 1900-1940. To Know the Soul of People tells a story of how the study of race and religion became a central topic in folklore research and the developing social sciences in the first half of the twentieth century. His research explores how the use of “folk religion” played a fundamental role in the process of classifying cultural behaviors that contributed to defining black lower and working-class communities in twentieth-century America.
The Politics of Poverty and Race (online article)