Elon students present research, take top awards at annual religious studies conference

Three Elon undergraduates spoke at the American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region’s Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Eleven Elon students and two faculty members spent the first weekend of spring break in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region’s (AAR SE) hosted by Mercer University. The regional conference, which allows professional scholars to present research and meet with colleagues from other institutions, was held for the first time in person since 2020.

Three sessions were held to showcase undergraduate research, and Elon students were invited through a competitive process for three of the fifteen undergraduate slots available. Elon University’s Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society hosted an Undergraduate Reception at the conference for other undergraduate students to meet each other.

The three Elon students who presented at AAR SE were each mentored by a faculty member who had been guiding them through a two-year process. Maddy Starr ‘23 won the conference award for Best Undergraduate Research Paper for her presentation, “Material Memories: Narratives of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict,” which she produced under the guidance of her mentor, Associate Professor Amy Allocco.

Maddy Starr ’23 with her advisor Amy Allocco

Peyton Rohlfs ‘23 won second runner-up for her paper, “Religion, Nationalism, and Memory: How Identity is Performed in the Sri Lanka Diaspora Community in Staten Island, NY,” supervised by Assistant Professor of English, Dinidu Karunanayake. Lumen Scholar Natalie Triche ‘23 also presented a portion of her research project, “Contemporary Egyptian Nationalism Through an Anthropological Lens,” supervised by CSRCS Director Brian Pennington.

Many of these students will be presenting their research at Elon’s Student Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) Day on April 25.

Support for travel was provided by the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society, the Department of Religious Studies, and the Office of Undergraduate Research.