Religion and Violence in Asia and Africa

2013 Meeting of the Southern Atlantic States Association for Asian and African Studies

September 20-21 at Elon University, Elon, North Carolina

The meeting schedule is available here.

Keynote speeches by Rosalind I. J. Hackett, Professor of Religious Studies at University of Tennessee and Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Religion and Islamic Studies at Duke University.

Saturday pedagogy sessions by Omar H. Ali, Associate Professor of Comparative African Diaspora History at University of North Carolina, Greensboro and Brian K. Pennington, Professor of Religion at Maryville College.

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Rosalind I. J. Hackett (PhD Aberdeen) is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, adjunct Professor in Anthropology, and faculty associate at the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy. She was a Distinguished Professor in the Humanities from 2003-2008 and taught in Nigerian universities from 1975-1983, while conducting fieldwork. She has published widely on religion in Africa, notably on new religious movements, as well as on art, media, gender, conflict, and religious freedom in the African context. She recently published an edited book, Proselytization Revisited: Rights Talk, Free Markets, and Culture Wars (2008), and has co-edited Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa (2011). Her future research and publication plans include a two co-edited works: (with Simon Coleman) The Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism and (with Benjamin Soares) New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa (2012).

Ebrahim E.I. Moosa (PhD University of Cape Town) is Professor of Religion and Islamic Studies in the Department of Religion at Duke University. His interests span both classical and modern Islamic thought with a special focus on Islamic law, history, ethics, and theology. Dr Moosa is the author of Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination, winner of the American Academy of Religion's Best First Book in the History of Religions (2006) and editor of the last manuscript of the late Professor Fazlur Rahman, Revival and Reform in Islam: A Study of Islamic Fundamentalism. He was named Carnegie Scholar in 2005 to pursue research on the madrasas, Islamic seminaries of South Asia.  Dr. Moosa serves on several distinguished international advisory boards and is associated with some of the foremost thinkers, activists and role-players in the Muslim world and beyond. He advised the first independent South African government after apartheid on Islamic affairs and serves on committees of the Organization of Islamic Conference in addition to others. He also has extensive experience in human rights activities. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation to research contemporary Muslim ethics and issues of philanthropy in the Muslim world.

Omar H. Ali (PhD Columbia Univeristy) is an Associate Professor of Comparative African Diaspora History and Politics in the African American Studies Program at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award, and a past member of the Teaching Prize Committee of the World History Association, Ali serves on the History Advisory Committee of the College Board and as a Road Scholar for the North Carolina Humanities Council. He was invited to serve as Lead Scholar for the Council's 2013 Summer Institute "Muslim Journeys: Islam and its Many Roads." Nationally, he serves on the Board of Directors of the All Stars Project, an innovative after-school program involving over 10,000 young people from poor and working-class neigborhoods in New York, Newark, Chicago, and Oakland. Ali also serves on the Board of Directors of IndependentVoting.org, which focuses on non-partisan political reform, and has appeared on CNN, NPR, PBS, Al Jazeera, C-SPAN, CBS, Fox, and Black Network Television discussing the rise of independent voters in the U.S. and the connection between democracy and human development.

Brian K. Pennington (PhD Emory University) is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Division of Humanities at Maryville College. He has published work on religion in colonial India, Hindu-Christian encounter, and method and theory in the study of religion. He is the author of Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion (2005), a study of Hindu-Christian interaction in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and editor of Teaching Religion and Violence (2012), a resource book for college instructors that covers both the history of violence in various religious traditions and contemporary religious conflict. He is also co-editor, along with Amy Allocco, of the forthcoming Ritual Innovation in South Asia. His fourth book in progress, God’s Fifth Abode: Emergent Religion in the Indian Himalayas, is a study of religious change in the pilgrimage city of Uttarkashi. Pennington is a member of the Advisory Council for the Conference on the Study of Religions in India and he is a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion, the Board of Directors of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies, and past President of the American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region.

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Conference Details

  • The conference begins with a welcome at 3:00 on Friday, Sept 20 and will end at 12:00 on Saturday, Sept 21.
  • Attendees are responsible for their own accomodations and transportation.  Accomodations at local (Burlington, NC) hotels can be arranged here.
  • Registration includes a meal Friday evening, along with coffee and a snack break on Saturday.
  • A final conference schedule will be available to participants by Aug 31.
  • Copies of Brian K. Pennington's edited volume Teaching Religion and Violence will be available for purchase on site.

For conference registration please complete the registration form and send a check of $35 by Sept 15, 2013 payble to "Elon University" c/o Lynn Huber, CB 2340, Elon University, Elon, NC 27244.  

For information about SASASAAS please click here.

Organized by the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society with support from Elon's Religious Studies Department, African and African-American Studies, Asian Studies, International Studies, and the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center.

News and Events

Brian Pennington receives grant, presents new research on Hinduism and climate change

Pennington's long-term research in the Indian Himalayas was extended by a grant from the American Academy of Religion to study how local Hindus respond to recent catastrophic floods

Religious Studies faculty present research

Faculty from the Religious Studies Department will be participating in the Annual Meetings of the American Academy of Religion, International Association for Qur’anic Studies and the Society of Biblical Literature Nov. 21-25 in San Diego, Calif.

Indian Filmmaker Recounts Struggle between Gods - Nov. 17

Pankaj Rishi Kumar will screen and discuss film about conflict pitting villagers in South India against powerful Hindu temple

'Praying with their Legs: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.' - Oct. 21

Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth College) will speak about the friendship and shared vision of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and her father, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, at 7:30 p.m. in the Numen Lumen Pavilion.

New director takes reins of Center for the Study of Religion, Culture & Society

An accomplished scholar of Hindu-Christian encounters and religion in India, Professor Brian Pennington will oversee university support of faculty and undergraduate research projects that seek answers to intellectual questions about religion in today’s world.