Scholars from U.S., Mexico, Discuss Religion and Power at Conference

The Religion Graduate Students hosted an incredible conference this past weekend that focused on the theme of Religion & Power. Scholars from across the U.S. — and Mexico — as well as those from disciplines outside religious studies including political science and history, gathered Saturday morning to discuss how religion negotiates unequal power relations, aids the construction of borders between lands and people and determines the truth.

The day was started with an excellent opening address by our very own Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons who highlighted her activist and feminist experience in order to discuss the intersection between gender and religion and show how academics find the manifestation of these realms within the world’s major religions–most notably Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Following Dr. Simmons, graduate students presented their research within three panels: Religious Encounters; Religion, Peace & Practice; and Religion & Identity. These presentations provoked a range of questions while leading to larger discussions that spilled into lunchtime.

The conference concluded with keynote speaker Dr. Joseph Hellweg’s discussion “Making (Up) War in Cote d’Ivoire: Religion, Power, Play and mimesis in the Ivoirian Post-War Period,” in which he further discussed his extensive fieldwork and the linguistical analysis that accompanies a wide spectrum of identities involved with local societies.

Thank you to everyone involved in planning, presenting, and attending the conference. We will see you at the 4th Annual RGSA Conference next academic year, 2018-2019.

-Report by Vickie Machado, RGSA President