Elon students present at regional religion conference

Five Elon students presented research at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region.

Supported in part by the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society, the Multifaith Scholars Program and the Department of Religious Studies, five Elon University seniors spent the first weekend of Spring Break attending and presenting their undergraduate research at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region.

The conference is hosted by Florida State University and the meetings were held virtually from Friday, March 11 to Sunday, March 13.

Hallie Milstein ’22, whose research mentor is Associate Professor of Religious Studies Geoffrey Claussen, presented a paper titled, “Jewish Identity and Wall Street: Challenging and Legitimizing Capitalist Systems.” Milstein presented research based on interviews with Jewish people engaged with the New York financial industry, whether as insiders or as critics. She explored how they saw their Jewish identities and values as shaping their diverse understanding of the industry.

Emily Wilbourne ’22 presented research conducted under the mentorship of Pamela Winfield, professor of religious studies, and Casey Avaunt, assistant professor of dance, titled “Negotiating Religion, Tradition, and Modernity in Post-19th Century Korean Seungmu Dance,” tracing the historical interplay of traditional religion and evolving culture in a particular Asian art form.

Nicholas Hom ’22, mentored by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Amy Allocco, shared research his research, “Gods, Gurus, and Ghouls: Jain and Hindu Bhakti in Medieval Tamil Literature,” which compares expressions of religious devotion in Medieval Jain and Hindu literature from South India and highlights the role of women and goddesses in Tamil intellectual and religious life. His paper was voted runner-up for the annual Albert Clark Award for best student essays in religion or theology at the undergraduate level and will be published in the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa. Hom is also the recipient of the 2022 Theta Alpha Kappa Religious Studies Honor Society’s Student Achievement Award for academic excellence.

Katherine Grant ’22, whose research mentor is Professor of Computer Science Megan Squire, presented “Social Network Analysis of Christian Identity Hate Groups,” in which she visually mapped historical and contemporary connections within the Christian Identity movement.

JoyceLyn Bentley  ’22 shared research mentored by Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Ariela Marcus-Sells, titled “Mythmaking and the NOI: Writing Their Own Story,” exploring the uses of myth for community authorization and empowerment among elders of the Ar-Razzaq mosque in Durham, North Carolina.