The CSWR welcomes the following Visiting Scholars for the 2020–21 academic year:
Barakatullo 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”.
Emeritus Professor Samuel N.C. Lieu is the current President of the International Union of Academies and a Bye Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge. He is also a Professorial Visiting Associate at the Study of Religions at SOAS. Until 2016 he was Inaugural Distinguished Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and until 1996, Professor of Ancient History and Classical Civilisation at Warwick University, UK. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and has since 1992 been director of the UNESCO-sponsored Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum Project. He has published extensively on the History of Manichaeism and on the Christian texts and inscriptions from the Silk Road. He is also currently engaged in a series of research publication projects on the onomastic and topographical history of the Thracian Chersonese (Gallipoli Peninsula).
Originally 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. His current project explores critical engagements with esoteric and theosophical traditions in modern and contemporary European philosophy. In particular, he considers why and in what sense esoteric and theosophical modes of thought and imagination become relevant to philosophical investigation. He is currently working on two book-length projects: an edition of Henry Corbin's unpublished early writings on Eastern Christianity, and a study, translation, and critical edition of Schelling's treatise Monotheism.
J. Christian Greer is a scholar of religious studies with a special focus on esotericism. His work addresses the intersection of heterodox religious discourses and progressive political movements in the Anglo-American world from the 1900s to the present. Having received his PhD (cum laude) in Western esotericism from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 2020, he worked as an instructor at Yale University before accepting a post-doctoral position at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. His current project argues that the vernacular culture of hip, and its embodiment in the hipster subculture, originated as a reaction to the crisis of religious meaning following the World Wars. Viewed through the lens of religious studies, the so-called “counterculture” emerges, in his scholarship, not as a purely oppositional social force, but rather as a progressive vanguard that has shaped social justice, technological innovation, artistic experimentation, ethical consumerism and the re-enchantment of everyday life in the late capitalist West. Methodologically attentive to the material ephemera of the counterculture, Greer’s research re-centers the esoteric fellowships of hipsters that have led this vital movement within the narrative of modern American religious history.
The CSWR also welcomes the following Senior Fellows for the 2020-21 Academic Year:
Andrew 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.
Giovanna 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, and a scholar of Contemporary Paganisms. 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 my second, The Spider Dance: Tradition, Time, and Healing in Southern Italy (Equinox Publishing, forthcoming) with contemporary Pagan women and healing.
At HDS, she teaches courses on Contemporary Paganisms, Earth-Based Religions, New Age Spiritualities, the Anthropology of Magic, and Religion and Healing.
The CSWR also welcomes the following Visiting Fellow for the 2020-21 Academic Year:
Rachael Petersen is a writer and environmental consultant with a decade of experience in international climate policy. Notably, she served as Senior Advisor to National Geographic Society and founding Deputy Director of Global Forest Watch, an international partnership to monitor deforestation in real-time using satellite technology. After suffering burnout, Rachael participated in a Johns Hopkins University clinical trial using psychedelics to treat major depression. She is working on a series of essays exploring the unspoken theologies and theories at play in modern psychedelic clinical research and excavating the potential risks, rewards, and implications of medicalizing “mystical” experiences. To that end, Rachael is co-convening a series of seminars on Psychedelics and the Future of Religion for the Spirit and Matter Series at CSWR. Her other writing illuminates the phenomenology of climate change despair and imagines new ontological frameworks in which to regard the unfolding global ecological crisis. Rachael was a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow and a Mulago Foundation Henry Arnhold Conservation Fellow. She has a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Policy from Rice University.