Current Affiliates

Research Associate in Transcendence and Transformation

The CSWR welcomes the following Research Associate in Transcendence and Transformation for the 2021-22 Academic Year:

Giovanna ParmigianiGiovanna Parmigiani received an MA in Literature and Philosophy from the Università degli Studi of Milan (Italy) in 2002, a MSc in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics (UK) in 2009, and a PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of Toronto in 2015. She is an anthropologist of religion, a scholar of Contemporary Paganisms, and a member of the steering committee of the Contemporary Pagan Studies Unit at the AAR. Her work is firmly grounded in ethnographic and auto-ethnographic practices, and her main focus of interest are the relationships between religion, politics, and gender. Her first monograph, Feminism, Violence and Representation in Modern Italy: ‘We Are Witnesses, Not Victims’ (Indiana University Press, 2019) dealt with violence against women, and her second, The Spider Dance: Tradition, Time, and Healing in Southern Italy  (Equinox Publishing, forthcoming) with contemporary Pagan women and healing. Her article Magic and Politics: Conspirituality and COVID-19 was published in the latest issue of JAAR. As a Research Associate in the Transcendence and Transformation Initiative at the CSWR, she is starting a new ethnographic project titled Magic and Populism in Southern Europe. At HDS, she teaches courses on Earth-based Spiritualities, the Anthropology of Magic, Religion and Healing, and Religion, Materiality, and the Senses.

Postdoctoral Fellows in Transcendence and Transformation

The CSWR also welcomes the following Postdoctoral Fellows in Transcendence and Transformation for the 2021-22 Academic Year:

Matthew J. DillonMatthew J. Dillon is a historian of religions with a focus on mystical and gnostic currents in Christianity. He received his PhD from Rice University’s Department of Religion with specializations in Early Christianity and History of Religions in America. His research traces the afterlives of apocryphal Christian scriptures, philosophies, and mythemes in American religions and culture. His first book, The Kingdom is Within You: The Lost Gospels and Post-Christianity in America, (University Press of Virginia, forthcoming), analyzes the religious reception of the Nag Hammadi Codices across traditional Christianities, new religions, media, popular culture, and those who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” At the CSWR, he is embarking on his next book, Electric Soul: Psychology, Technology, and the Divine Double.

Hadi FakhouryHadi Fakhoury is ooriginally from Beirut, Hadi Fakhoury received his Master's from the Institute of Islamic Studies, and his Ph.D. from the School of Religious Studies, both at McGill University, Montreal. His Master's thesis studied the influence of modern Russian religious thinkers on the French scholar of Islamic theosophy, Henry Corbin (1903-1978). His doctoral dissertation focused on the relation between philosophy and religion in the later thought of the German philosopher F.W.J. Schelling (1775-1854) through the study of his treatise Monotheism. Hadi’s postdoctoral research project at the CSWR is titled ‘Towards a Hierology’: Henry Corbin and the Reorientation of the Study of Religion. He is currently preparing an edition of Corbin’s unpublished early writings on Eastern Christianity and is co-organizing with Dir. Charles Stang an international conference on Corbin to be held at the CSWR in 2022.

 J. Christian GreerJ. Christian Greer is a scholar of Religious Studies with a special focus on esotericism. In addition to earning a MDiv at Harvard Divinity School, he received his MA and PhD (cum laude) in Western esotericism from the History of Hermetic Philosophy department at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). His research addresses Popular Culture & Religion, Radical Politics & Religious Activism, Ecological Spiritualities, and Drugs & Religion. His forthcoming book, Angelheaded Hipsters: Psychedelic Militancy in Nineteen Eighties North America (Oxford University Press), analyzes the growth, diversification, and expansion of psychedelic culture within fanzine networks in the late Cold War era. In addition to occupying a postdoctoral position at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University, he teaches the “Visions of the Occult: Introduction to Esotericism” seminar each summer and winter at UvA.

Mimi WinickMimi Winick is a Postdoctoral Fellow on the “Transcendence and Transformation” initiative, where she will be exploring how prose literature fosters sustained experiences of transcendence and transformation in individuals and communities of readers. In 2020-2021, she was Research Associate and Visiting Lecturer of Women’s Studies and Society in the Women’s Studies in Religion Program at HDS, where she was writing her first book manuscript, "Ecstatic Inquiry: The First Female Theorists of Religion and the Origins of Feminist Spirituality." She is affiliate faculty in the English Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she has taught Victorian and Modernist literature and literary theory. She received her PhD in English Literature from Rutgers University. Her essays on literature and religion have appeared in journals including Nineteenth-Century Literature, Modernism/modernity, and Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, as well as in edited collections including The Critic as Amateur (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019) and Modernist Women Writers and Spirituality (Palgrave, 2016). She is a delegate to the Modern Language Association representing full-time contingent faculty.

Postdoctoral Fellows

The CSWR also welcomes the following Postdoctoral Fellows for the 2021-22 Academic Year:

Ram DasRam Das is an Israeli scholar of Hinduism. He holds a doctoral degree in Comparative Literature from Bar-Ilan University. His doctoral dissertation analyzed hagiographical depictions of transcendent personalism, a unique conceptual development in the Hindu-Vaishnava Bhakti tradition of Chaitanya (1486-1534). He is currently exploring the theology of sacred food in Chaitanya-Vaishnavism, while working on his monograph Transcendent Personalism in Indian Philosophy.

Visiting Scholars

The CSWR also welcomes the following Visiting Scholars for the 2021-22 Academic Year:

Barakatullo AshurovBarakatullo Ashurov is a linguist and historian from Tajikistan. His research and teaching focus on the history of religions, cultures, and languages of Ancient Iran encompassing the modern territories of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Central Asian countries. One of his primary scholarly focuses is history of Eastern Syriac Christianity among Iranian and Turkic-speaking ethnolinguistic communities of West and Central Asia. More specifically, his interests include: the Syriac Christian tradition among Sogdian, especially the spread of the East Syrian tradition along the Silk Roads; other philosophical and religious movements of the ancient Iranian world. Ashurov’s current projects include “Studies on Sogdian body-part words”; “Politeness and Impoliteness in Sogdian language”; and a book project, “Christianity in Central Asia: An Introductory History”.

 Abdulaziz BinTalebAbdulaziz BinTaleb is Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction – Islamic Studies at King Saud University. He earned his Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies from The University of Texas at Austin in 2005. He has a B.Ed. in Islamic Studies from King Saud University in 1997. During 2006-2016, Dr. BinTaleb worked as a Consultant with the Ministry of Higher Education. He appointed then to the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Australia, where he served for two terms and was appointed as Cultural Attaché in the second term. His work abroad has provided him with expertise in many areas including international education. He is the author of two books: “Studying Abroad" and “The Upcoming Oil”. At King Saud University, he teaches courses on learning and teaching of Islamic studies. His research interests include: religious education, teaching about world religions, and international education. His research articles have appeared in journals, including the British Journal of Religious Education, Journal of the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States and Saudi Journal of Educational Sciences.

Yuqiang Zhao Yuqiang Zhao is a scholar of Chinese Taoism and Leisure studies from China. He received Ph.D. of Chinese Classical Philology in 2009, and finished Philosophical Postdoctoral study in 2012, both in Zhejiang University. He is the academic director of philosophy department, Hangzhou Normal University. His research mainly focuses on traditional Taoist thought and its enlightenment to modern society, especially he does good field investigations on the development of Taoism in China. Based on Taoist research, he pays much attention to the leisure study, and studies the etymology and meaning of Chinese traditional leisure and its relationship with Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. He has published 4 books and 13 articles and is the deputy editor in chief of the Chinese Leisure Classics Series, which contained 320 books. His current research project is Body, Ecology, and Leisure: the Body Philosophy of Taoism.

Senior Fellow

The CSWR also welcomes the following Senior Fellows for the 2021-22 Academic Year:

Andrew JacobsAndrew Jacobs is a historian of early Christianity with a focus on varieties of religious difference, particularly heresy and Jewish-Christian relations. He has published three monographs, most recently Epiphanius of Cyprus: A Cultural Biography of Late Antiquity, which won the Philip Schaff Prize from the American Society of Church History. He is also the co-editor, with Bart Ehrman, of Christianity in Late Antiquity, 300-450, A Reader and the collection Garb of Being: Embodiment and the Pursuit of Holiness in Late Ancient Christianity, with Georgia Frank and Susan Holman. He has taught at the University of California, Riverside, and Scripps College. He is currently working on two book-length projects: Gospel Thrillers: The Bible and Conspiracy in U.S. Popular Culture and Ex-Jews: Conversion in Late Antiquity.