“To me, religion is just brain activity,” said Larissa Carneiro, Ph.D., a religious studies instructor at Duke whose work is at the intersection of religion, neuroscience, and psychedelics. Despite her skepticism about the existence of God and reincarnation, though, Carneiro says she has lived many lives. “I'm 57 years old, and I have had five different lives without dying and being born again,” Carneiro said. Carneiro was born in São Sebastião do Paraíso, Brazil, and started her first life (or two) after moving to Belo… read more about Duke Scholar Explores A Potent Brew of Religion, Ritual and Psychedelic Drugs »

The Department of Religious Studies at Duke University invites applications for a position at the rank of associate professor with tenure. The appointment will be in the Department of Religious Studies but is pursued in collaboration with Duke’s distinguished Center for Jewish Studies. The search committee welcomes applicants working in any field involving the study of Jewish religious culture, experience, history or thought in the modern era. The committee seeks applicants with strong evidence of commitment to scholarship… read more about New Faculty Positions Open in the Department of Religious Studies »

In defense of neutral space guest column By Marc Brettler December 11, 2023 | 12:00am EST On December 5, I had the honor of convening “A Talking Circle on the War in Israel and Gaza: Sharing Our Pain” alongside Professors Abdullah Antepli and Peter Casarella. This event was sponsored by The Duke University Chapel, Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation, Fons Vitae and Student Affairs. Over 40 people — undergraduates, graduate and professional school students, staff and faculty — attended this two-hour event,… read more about In Defense of Neutral Space »

Two Duke faculty in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences have been appointed National Humanities Center (NHC) fellows for the 2023-2024 academic year. Richard Jaffe, professor of Religious Studies, will lovingly craft 15-plus years of research into a comprehensive biography honoring a name many are familiar with: Suzuki.  “This isn’t Suzuki the motorcycle inventor or the music method Suzuki,” Jaffe cautions. “This is Daisetsu Teitaro (D.T.) Suzuki, who introduced Zen Buddhism to the United States and Great… read more about Duke Professors Awarded for Research on a Zen Influencer and a New Approach to Color Theory »

We, faculty in the Department of Religious Studies, acknowledge the right of Duke graduate students to form an employer-recognized union. We will not penalize graduate students in any way for engaging in unionizing efforts nor will we endorse any disciplinary measures directed at graduate students who have participated in such efforts or against those who have not. We strongly believe in free discussion, and we urge both student and university leaders to engage in a constructive dialogue.   read more about Faculty Statement in Support of the Right to Unionize »

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading. Books from more than a dozen Duke authors offer insight on a range of topics – from gratitude for everyday life to the antislavery writings of Henry David Thoreau. Below is a roundup of some of the most recently published and soon-to-be-out titles. Many of the books, including new editions of previous titles, can be found on the “Duke Authors” display shelves near the circulation desk in Perkins Library. Some are available as e-books for quick download. Most can also be… read more about Hot Off the Press: Summer Reading From Duke Authors »

Four faculty from Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and three alumni have been named to this year’s cohort of Guggenheim Fellows. The honorees for 2023 include German Studies Professor Stefani Engelstein, Professor Lillian B. Pierce of Mathematics, Religious Studies Professor Leela Prasad, and Professor of Physics Christopher Walter. Duke alumni Lucy Corin, Jon-Sesrie Goff and Jennifer Graber were also recognized. Now in its 98th year, the Guggenheim Fellowships recognize exceptional mid-career… read more about Four Trinity Faculty and Three Alums Named 2023 Guggenheim Fellows »… Refashioning Academic Biblical Studies Marc Zvi Brettler PDF Take a look at the typical syllabus for an Introduction to Hebrew Bible / Old Testament course. The odds are high that the secondary readings are mostly written by white men. This complements nicely, but problematically, the Bible itself, which is largely, if not totally, a male composition, transmitted by male scribes. Introductory Bible courses typically highlight… read more about Refashioning Academic Biblical Studies »

A new Duke University study appears to ease concerns that clergy would steer congregants suffering from depression away from mental health providers and instead rely only on their faith. Clergy are often the first point of contact for people suffering from depression. About 90 percent of clergy members surveyed for the Duke study embrace a medical understanding of depression; about 10 percent said they’d counsel their congregation members to address depression solely through religious means. “We consider this good news… read more about Most Clergy Follow Science on Depression Treatment, Duke Study Finds »

North Carolina’s first known mosque was established in Durham nearly 65 years ago, and a current exhibit honors the rich, living history of African American Muslims in the city. “The Transformational History of Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center in Durham” will be on view through December 12, 2022, in the Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery at the Perkins Library. The thoughtfully curated and thought-provoking exhibition explores five facets of thriving Muslim life in Durham: culture, business, education, civic engagement and… read more about Celebrating North Carolina’s First Mosque and Durham’s Muslim Community  »

Leela Prasad, professor of religious studies, has been elected vice president of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). The leadership role puts Prasad in position to serve as president-elect next year and as the association’s president the following year.   Prasad’s research focuses on the intersection of religious studies, anthropology, history and literature, with particular attention to South Asia. Her first book, “Poetics of Conduct: Narrative and Moral Being in a South Indian Town,” explored how everyday… read more about Leela Prasad Elected to Leadership Role in American Academy of Religion »

Professor of Religious Studies Leela Prasad was recently elected vice president of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). According to AAR, the vice presidency is a one-year term, followed by automatically becoming President-Elect, then President without additional elections: “During their tenure, the Vice President will have the opportunity to affect AAR policy in powerful ways; in particular, during the presidential year, the incumbent makes many of the appointments of members to openings on working groups. In addition… read more about Prasad Elected AAR Vice President »

“I've spent most of my life since I was 13 working very hard to learn other people's languages,” says J. Lorand Matory. He has just come from a midterm exam in his advanced undergraduate Chinese language and culture class, Chinese being the most recent of the numerous languages he has studied. “I find it liberating to think in the terms of others who grew up thousands of miles away and have a totally different cultural history, and to try on their ways of thinking,” he says. “How can you understand other people's point of… read more about J. Lorand Matory’s “The Fetish Revisited” Wins J. I. Staley Prize »

Jonathan Homrighausen was so moved when he first saw The Saint John's Bible as a student docent in Santa Clara University’s archives and special collections, he wrote his own book about it. And then another. A modern illuminated manuscript, with the last page completed in 2011, this Bible was created by a team of scribes and illustrators commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University.  Homrighausen's first book about The Saint John’s Bible focused on its illustrations, but he wanted… read more about When Modern Calligraphy Is Paired with Ancient Scripture »

The recent death of a young Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, while in the custody of Iranian authorities has sparked a massive wave of protests – both online and in the streets. There are echoes of the past in this new wave of protests along with a very clear demand for freedom and bodily autonomy, three Duke scholars said Thursday in a virtual media briefing. (Watch the briefing on YouTube.) Here are excerpts:   ON IMPETUS FOR IRAN PROTESTS Negar Mottahedeh, Middle Eastern Studies scholar “There’s 40… read more about Protests Grow More Frequent As Young Iranians Demand More Freedoms, Experts Say »

When Judah Goldin was named Duke’s first chair of Jewish Studies in 1943, the program was housed in the Graduate School. Twenty-nine years later, the Center for Jewish Studies was established—thanks to two visionaries, two universities and a host of generous donors. Today, as the Center for Jewish Studies celebrates its golden anniversary, it has become a world-renowned interdisciplinary program offering an undergraduate certificate in Jewish Studies and supporting master’s and doctoral candidates across Duke. Looking… read more about For 50 Years, the Center for Jewish Studies Has Delivered Interdisciplinary Insight »