Graduate Student Conference 2018

Religion and Difference:
Negotiating Otherness from Ancient to Contemporary Worlds

March 16th & 17th, 2018
Keynote Speaker: Courtney Bender, Columbia University

All presentations and speeches will take place in Pembroke Hall, Rm 305

Religion binds people into distinct groups and divides people into categories of "us" and "them" or "self" and "other." This conference will explore both halves of this self/other dichotomy: how are in-groups identified? What is the significance of difference within an in-group? How are out-groups identified? What is the effect of this identification on an individual or on a group? What happens when individuals and communities interact across the self-other divide? What are the texts, practices, and broader changes that this contact produces? And, crucially, does "the other" still work as an academic category? What do scholars do when they name "the other?"

This conference seeks to bring together those who study any religion, past and present, to explore avenues for approaching this topic.  This conference will be an inclusive dialogue about difference across a wide range of religions, disciplines, space and time.


Friday, March 16th 

9 AM: Continental Breakfast

9:20 AM: Opening Remarks: Mark Cladis, Department Chair and Professor of Religious Studies, Brown University

9:30 AM: Session I: The Other in Contemporary Issues

  • "Qur'an 5:51 and the Rise of Muslim Hardline-Populists in Indonesia: An Analysis from Political Theology"
    Lailatul Fitriyah, University of Notre Dame
  • "Race Beyond the Stars: Time Travel and Prophetic Preaching in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"
    Hector J. Kilgoe, University of Pennsylvania
  • "Othering" Knowledges: Oral Tradition and the Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline
    Ryan Goeckner, University of Kansas
  • Response: Prof. Nancy Khalek, Brown University,

10:40 AM: Break

11:00 AM: Session II: Minorities within a Majority

  • "Navigating Religious Difference in Classical Indian Philosophy: The Doxographical Work of Haribhadra Suri"
    Anil Mundra, University of Chicago
  •  "Tracing the Jewish marginals: Intracommunal exclusion and intercommunal solidarity in nineteenth-century Izmir"
    Canan Bolel, University of Washington
  • "Pathological Investigations: Kafka's Judeo-Christian and the Time of Ordinary Life"
    Matthew Peterson, University of Chicago
  •  Response: Prof. Paul Nahme, Brown University

12:00 PM: Lunch

1:30 PM: Session III: Cultural Encounters and Converging Religions

  • "One God, Indivisible: The Cultural Translation of Islam into Chinese in Wang Daiyu's The Real Commentary on the True Teaching"
    Andrea Valedon, University of Michigan
  • "The Creation of "American Judaism:" Negotiating an American Jewish Self in Nineteenth Century America"
    Yitzchak Schwartz, New York University
  • "Universal Repentance and Universal Salvation: A Comparative Study of Penitential Rites in the Water-Land Retreat and the Yellow Register Retreat"
    Liu Jingyu, Harvard University
  • Response: Prof. Thomas A. Lewis, Brown University

2:45 PM: Break

3:00 PM: Session IV: Ecumenicism and Interfaith Dialogue:

  • "Questioning Our Grand Narratives: Interfaith Dialogue as Pedagogical Praxis"
    Jem Jebbia, Stanford University
  • "Benedictine Body Technologies, Philoxenia, and the "Eccentric" Church"
    Mary Clare Mazzocchi, University of Notre Dame
  • "Learning Networks, Mutual Isolation, and Denominational Boundaries in American Judaism"
    Ellie Ash, Boston University
     Response: Prof. Susan Harvey, Brown University

4:10 PM: Break

4:30 PM: Keynote Address:  Courtney Bender, Professor of Religion, Columbia University, "Modern Dreams of the Religious Future: the World of Tomorrow, the Air Globe, and Other Fables of Spiritual Unity"

6:00 PM: Dinner for Participants

Saturday, March 17th

9 AM: Breakfast

9:30 AM: Session V: Thinking with the Other in Antiquity

  • "Go to Hell: Sectarian Reimagining of the Other Self in the War Scroll"
    Ji Min Bang, Brandeis University
  • "Dialogues of Difference: Berossos of Babylon and Festivals of Inversion"
    Emily Hurt, Yale University
  • "Re-Thinking Government and Religious Minorities in the Age of the Roman Tetrarchy"
    Carl Rice, Yale University
  • "Pluralism, Monotheism, and Apophatic Intolerance"
    Chris Haw, University of Notre Dame
  •  Response: Prof. Lawrence Wills, Brown University

11:00 AM: Break

11:20 AM: Session VI: The Imagined Other

  • "The Health of Conscience: Handling Religious Diversity in the Pastoral Epistles"
    David Anthony Basham, McGill University
  • "James Baldwin, Karl Barth, and the Demonic"
    S. Kyle Johnson, Boston College
  • "Reality and imagination in dealing with the other in Muslim popular narratives of Medieval Anatolia"
    Mihajlo Bozovic, Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED)
  • Response: Prof. Shahzad Bashir, Brown University

12:30pm: Concluding Remarks by Courtney Bender, Columbia University