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Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 3.5 • 4 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Religion about their New Books
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    Waleed Ziad, "Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints Beyond the Oxus and Indus" (Harvard UP, 2021)

    Waleed Ziad, "Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints Beyond the Oxus and Indus" (Harvard UP, 2021)

    Today, we speak with Waleed Ziad, about his book Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints beyond the Oxus and Indus, published in 2021 with Harvard University Press. Ziad is an assistant professor of Religion at UNC Chapel Hill and holds a PhD from Yale. In Hidden Caliphate, Ziad offers an incredibly rich, fascinating, and detailed study of Sufi networks. These are expansive networks that span a wide array of geography, from Afghanistan to China to Siberia. Challenging dominant and often simplistic narratives of the region, reduced to the story of the Great Game, the book centers on the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi Sufi order, the hidden caliphate in Ziad's title, who play instrumental roles in shaping the religious, social, political, and intellectual landscapes of Central and South Asia. Ziad shows that these networks stay alive well into the 20th century, in a period that other scholars have argued is one of decline, with their legacy and influence still alive today, embedded in everyday life and culture throughout the region. The book is a riveting telling of the mujaddidis’ impact on Muslim reformist movements and their responses to the decline of Muslim political power.
    In our discussion today, we talk about Ziad’s arguments and contributions. Some of the specific themes we cover in this discussion are Islamic sovereignty and kingship, millenarian eschatology, Sufis as scholars and scholars as Sufis, intellectuals, and teachers, Sufism’s connection with orthodoxy, parallels between Sufi training and Tantric Buddhist esoterism, the woman question in the book, and colonialism and its impact on the Mujaddidis.
    Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She can be reached at haqqani_s@mercer.edu.
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    • 1 hr 34 min
    Maria Berbara, "Sacrifice and Conversion in the Early Modern Atlantic World" (Harvard UP, 2022)

    Maria Berbara, "Sacrifice and Conversion in the Early Modern Atlantic World" (Harvard UP, 2022)

    When Europeans came to the American continent in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they were confronted with what they perceived as sacrificial practices. Representations of Tupinamba cannibals, Aztecs slicing human hearts out, and idolatrous Incas flooded the early modern European imagination. But there was no less horror within European borders; during the early modern period no region was left untouched by the disasters of war.
    Sacrifice and Conversion in the Early Modern Atlantic World (Harvard University Press, 2022), edited by Maria Berbara, illuminates a particular aspect of the mutual influences between the European invasions of the American continent and the crisis of Christianity during the Reform and its aftermaths: the conceptualization and representation of sacrifice. Because of its centrality in religious practices and systems, sacrifice becomes a crucial way to understand not only cultural exchange, but also the power struggles between American and European societies in colonial times. How do cultures interpret sacrificial practices other than their own? What is the role of these interpretations in conversion? From the central perspective of sacrifice, these essays examine the encounter between European and American sacrificial conceptions—expressed in texts, music, rituals, and images—and their intellectual, cultural, religious, ideological, and artistic derivations.
    Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.
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    • 49 min
    95 Intercultural Buddhism and Philosophy: A Discussion with Jin Y. Park

    95 Intercultural Buddhism and Philosophy: A Discussion with Jin Y. Park

    Welcome to the new season of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. After a well-earned and challenging summer filled with drought, war, political strife and ridiculous heat, we’re back in the saddle and raring to go with some intellectual stimulation aimed at the practicing life. Four episodes are lined up with Buddhist scholars, philosophers and practitioners.
    First off we have Jin Y. Park. She is Professor and Department Chair of Philosophy and Religion at the American University and also served as Founding Director of the Asian Studies Program from 2013-2020. She specializes in East Asian Buddhism, Buddhist and comparative ethics, intercultural philosophy, and modern East Asian philosophy. We touch on Derrida, non-western philosophy, Merleau-Ponty, and two fascinating figures from Korea she has carried out research on; Kim Iryop and Pak Ch’iu, philosopher-practitioners well-worth taking a look at for their unique engagement with Buddhism.
    Matthew O'Connell is a life coach and the host of the The Imperfect Buddha podcast. You can find The Imperfect Buddha on Facebook and Twitter (@imperfectbuddha).
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Writing/Reading the Bible in Postcolonial Perspective

    Writing/Reading the Bible in Postcolonial Perspective

    The intricacies of imperialism and colonialism within the context of the Bible are nuanced and varied. Understanding the legacy of European Imperialism requires careful reflection of the Bible’s affinity with the empire and concentration of power. In this episode of Humanities Matter, Dr. Steedman Vernyl Davidson, author of Writing/Reading the Bible in Postcolonial Perspective (Brill, 2017) elaborates on the ambiguities of the Bible as an anti-imperial tool and his work in tracing the evolution of the Bible from its production in ancient empires to its role in the development of modern imperialism.
    The book sets the context within which further exploration of postcolonial biblical critical work can take place and lays out the challenges of intersectional work with queer studies, terrorism studies, technology, and ecological studies as future tasks.
    Summary: A discussion on the interpretations of the Bible as a tool of colonialism and imperialism.
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    • 23 min
    Andreea Kaltenbrunner, "For the Faith, Against the State: Old Calendarism in Romania (1924-1936)" (De Gruyter, 2022)

    Andreea Kaltenbrunner, "For the Faith, Against the State: Old Calendarism in Romania (1924-1936)" (De Gruyter, 2022)

    In For the Faith, Against the State: Old Calendarism in Romania (1924-1936)* (De Gruyter, 2022), Andreea Kaltenbrunner uses Old Calendarism, a movement of orthodox believers against the introduction of a new church calendar, to show that the formation of the state and nation in "Greater Romania" also produced tensions among ethnic Romanians living in Bessarabia, which had been ruled by the the Russian Empire before 1919. While the new calendar was intended to signal Romania's symbolic orientation to the West, Old Calendarists perceived it as an imposed modernization and a departure from right-wing beliefs. The author examines the development of Old Calendarism and its suppression in the autumn of 1936 by the Romanian gendarmerie. The official church and the state lacked the initiatives and means to win peasants in the east of the country over to their Westernizing project. The price for the implementation of the symbolic reform was the turning away of the rural population of Bessarabia from the new state and from the official church, causing the to organize themselves through local networks and new religious movements.
    *Für den Glauben, gegen den Staat: Der Altkalendarismus in Rumänien (1924-1936)
    Roland Clark is a Reader in Modern European History at the University of Liverpool, a Senior Fellow with the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, and the Principal Investigator of an AHRC-funded project on European Fascist Movements.
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    • 34 min
    Jamie Barnes, "Stories, Senses and the Charismatic Relation: A Reflexive Ethnography of Christian Experience" (Routledge, 2020)

    Jamie Barnes, "Stories, Senses and the Charismatic Relation: A Reflexive Ethnography of Christian Experience" (Routledge, 2020)

    Stories, Senses and the Charismatic Relation: A Reflexive Ethnography of Christian Experience (Routledge, 2020) offers a uniquely intimate and auto-ethnographic exploration of Christian experience, rendering a deep, phenomenological account of how devotional worlds become real – how they are experienced, shaped, constituted and performed by those who live them.
    The book starts from a reflexive exploration of the author’s own experiences of the divine, considers the spiritual journeys of family members and the ‘spiritual community’ of which he was a part, and draws on ethnographic fieldwork in the southern Balkans where that community was based. Jamie Barnes considers three main elements: firstly, the role that sensory aspects of experience play in constituting one’s lived world and one’s ideas about the kinds of beings inhabiting it; secondly, how stories and metaphors are tactically employed, not only in the process of expressing aspects of past experience but also in shaping and forming both desired worlds and future pathways; thirdly, how such sensed, narrated and lived worlds are tentatively held together - in hope, trust and love – through charismatic relationships of devotion with a divine Other.
    Tiatemsu Longkumer is a Ph.D. scholar working on ‘Anthropology of Religion’ at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong: India.
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    • 1 hr 1 min

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