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2019 Participants

Samah Choudhury

Samah Choudhury is a PhD candidate at UNC Chapel Hill. Her dissertation focuses on humor and Islam in America, looking specifically how American Muslim comedians utilize humor as a mode of self-constructing and then articulating “Islam” for an American public. Her larger research interests pertain to critical race theory, secularism and the state, and gender/queer theory. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Political Science and an A.M. from Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies.

Travis Cooper

Travis Cooper holds a double PhD in Religious Studies and Anthropology and lectures at Butler University. His dissertation project, “The Digital Evangelicals: Contesting Authority and Authenticity after the New Media Turn,” examined religious boundary maintenance strategies in the era of social media. His current research focuses on the various social architectures that structure everyday American life-worlds, rituals, and traditions—systems ranging from media ideologies and print culture to the ideologies of urban design and the built environment. An ethnographer of the American Midwest, he studies (sub)urban habitudes, residential and religious architecture, and the anthropology of the modern.

Emily D. Crews

Emily D. Crews is a Full Time Teaching Instructor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama and a PhD candidate in History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her dissertation focuses on the lives of Nigerian immigrant women in the United States and the ways in which those women struggle to conform to a model of ideal Christian womanhood as it is articulated by their Pentecostal church community. Emily has been an editorial assistant at History of Religions, the managing editor of The Religion and Culture Web Forum, and the co-leader of the African Religions in the Americas Conference at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Richard Kent Evans

Richard Kent Evans received his PhD in North American Religions from Temple University in 2018. His first book, MOVE: An American Religion, is a religious history of MOVE. He is currently working on a history of “religious madness” from the late seventeenth century to the present. He currently teaches at The College of New Jersey and is a Research Associate at Haverford College.

Prea Persaud

Prea Persaud (B.A. Rollins College, M.A. Syracuse University, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Florida) is a Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte where her teaching focuses on Hinduism, Asians in the Americas, and Caribbean religions. She is interested in global Hinduism, religion in the Americas, and issues concerning race, identity, and post-colonialism. Her current research looks at the ways in which Hinduism in Trinidad has established itself as a Caribbean religion by appealing to nationalist discourses, inscribing itself on the local landscape, and creating new traditions. By locating Indo-Trinidadian Hinduism within the category of creole religion, she challenges studies on diasporic Hinduism which center India as the homeland, scholarship on the Caribbean which ignore the influence of Asian migration, and the rigidness of categories within the study of religion.

Hannah Scheidt

Hannah Scheidt received her PhD from the Department of Religious Studies at Northwestern University in 2018 and her BA from Bowdoin College in 2010. Her dissertation, a cultural study of contemporary atheism, is titled Practicing Atheism: Culture, Media, and Ritual in the Contemporary Atheist Network. This project explores how atheism gains “affirmative” content (that is, meanings and associations beyond simply lack of belief in god) through a complex relationship with religion. Her work incorporates perspectives and methods from religious studies, media studies, and cultural studies. Hannah’s other research interests include secularism, religion and science, religion and media, transhumanism, and (recently) American craft and maker movements.