The audio feed of American Academy of Religion (AAR), the world's largest scholarly and professional association of academics, teachers, and research scholars dedicated to furthering knowledge of religions and religious institutions in all their forms and manifestations. Featuring interviews with award-winning scholars and sessions recorded during the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
Competing Constructions of Religious Freedom in Allied-Occupied Japan
Despite the Japanese constitution guaranteeing religious freedom since 1889, after World War II, the United States-occupiers deemed that guarantee flawed. In this conversation with, Jolyon Thomas, author of "Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan" shares how the US imposed a new framework of religious freedom onto the Japanese, one that favored some traditions more than others.
Thomas's "Faking Liberties" was co-winner of the AAR's 2020 Analytical-Descriptive Studies Award for the Excellence in the Study of Religion. He is associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
State and Religious Rituals of Religion and State among the Buryat People
The fall of the Soviet Union provides the cultural space for a revival of the religious practices of the Buryat, an indigenous people of southern Siberia who live on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal, just north of the Mongolian border. Justine Buck Quijada, author of "Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets: Rituals of History in Post-Soviet Buryatia" (Oxford University Press, 2019) joins Kristian Petersen to discuss her research into how the Buryat people recontextualize the rise and fall of the Soviet period into Buddhist and shamanic histories. Quijada's book won AAR's 2020 Best First Book in the History of Religions.
The Little Ice Age and Devotional Practices in the Transforming Landscape of Northern India
Sugata Ray's 2019 book "Climate Change and the Art of Devotion: Geoaesthetics in the Land of Krishna, 1550-1850" won AAR's Religion and the Arts Book Award in 2020, the award's inaugural year. In this interview with Kristian Petersen, Ray talks about his book and explains how a landscape transformed by the Little Ice Age became part of evolving conceptualizations, rituals, and aesthetics involved in devotional practices of Northern Indian worshippers of Krishna.
Sugata Ray is associate professor of South and Southeast Asian art at the University of California, Berkeley.
A Counternarrative of Buddhism in Modern History with Matthew W. King
Through a case study of Zava Damdin, a monk living on the frontier of Mongolia at the end of the Qing empire (early 20th century), Matthew King invites scholars to consider non-Eurocentric ways of studying religion in modern history.
King is associate professor in transnational Buddhism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and he is the author of "Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood: A Mongolian Monk in the Ruins of the Qing Empire" (Columbia University Press), which won the American Academy of Religion's 2020 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the textual studies category. He is interviewed by Kristian Petersen.
Caretaking and Childrearing in Modern Jewish Theology with Mara Benjamin
Mara Benjamin, Irene Kaplan Leiwant Professor of Jewish Studies at Mount Holyoke College, experimented with genre in her 2018 book "The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought," blending an academic approach to analyzing the concept of childrearing in Jewish intellectual history and offering her own intervention, informed by personal experience, to this undertheorized area in Jewish intellectual history. In this interview, she talks about realizing her role in expanding this conversation across disciplines and her hope that other scholars feel liberated to construct new ideas in the fields they study.
Benjamin's "The Obligated Self" won the AAR's 2019 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective Studies category.
The Flying House of Loreto and the Growth of Catholicism with Karin Vélez
Karin Vélez explains how the 12th century myth of the flying house of Loreto, which tells the story of the home of the Virgin Mary flew away from the Holy Land and settled on the coastal town of Loreto, Italy, served as narrative grounding for the expansion of Catholicism through varied, voluntary, independent devotional movements across the world.
Vélez is assistant professor of pre-1800 global history at Macalester College and the author of "The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto: Spreading Catholicism in the Early Modern World" (Princeton University Press, for which she won AAR's 2019 Award for the Best First Book in the History of Religions.