Group Title: Connections : a newsletter for the Department of Religion at the University of Florida
Title: Connections
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Title: Connections
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Department of Religion, University of Florida
Publisher: Department of Religion, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Spring/Summer 2009
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Bibliographic ID: UF00091365
Volume ID: VID00009
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

Spring/Summer 2009

A big congratulation to Religion Depart-
ment graduates. We are especially proud
of the Religion majors who received their
Bachelor of Arts degrees at the Spring
2009 Commencement.

Many of our newest alumni will be at-
tending graduate school in the fall, while
others have plans for work, rest, and trav-
el. We will miss you, but we hope you stay
in touch, come back for a visit, and let us
know about your adventures and achieve-
ments in the coming years.

This year we had an especially strong set
of graduating seniors. It was difficult to
limit the annual Jaberg Award presenta-
tion, but finally the faculty decided to
give the award to Hilary D'Angelo and

Two visitors came to UF this spring as
part of the Global Religion in Practice
(GRIP) initiative, funded by UF's In-
ternational Center and coordinated by
Professors Narayanan, Sanford, VAsquez,
and Peterson, along with Dr. Philip Wil-
liams from Political Science and Dr. Ani-
ta Anantharam from Women's Studies.
As part of this program, Professor Tom
Tweed of the University of Texas-Austin
visited in January, who spoke on "Toward
an Ethic of Civic Engagement: Reflec-
tions on a Kinetic and Relational Theory
of Religion." In February, we had a visit
from Professor Norman Wirzba of the
Duke University Divinity School, who
spoke on "The Grace of Good Food."

Other visitors included Dr. Livia Kohn,
who visited March 24-25, and Josh

Brandon Velez, shared with runner-up
Cez Generoso. All three are outstanding
students and citizens, who enriched our
department and the university. We wish
them and all our graduates the very best
in their new adventures.

We are also very happy to congratulate
Luke Johnston, who defended his dis-
sertation in April, becoming the third
Ph.D. graduate from the Department of
Religion. Luke is heading to Wake For-
est University-his alma mater-for a
postdoctoral fellowship. His wife, Dedee
DeLongpre, will be leaving her job as
Director of UF's Office of Sustainability
to become director of Sustainability at
Wake Forest. We will miss you both!

Feinberg, and Javad Butah, who visited
in January.

Religion majors helped organize UF's
first Interfaith Forum in April. The
purpose of the event was to spread dia-
logue and discussion about the interfaith
movement and bring it to UF About
300 people attended the event, which
was featured on the front page of the Al-
ligator, our local student-run newspaper.
The forum had five panelists represent-
ing Islam (Islam on Campus), Christian-
ity (Campus Crusade for Christ), Juda-
ism (Jewish Student Union), Secular
(Gator Freethought), and Hindu (Hin-
du Student Council). Religion major
Michael Garrett moderated, on behalf of
the Religion Department and the Inter-
Religious Alliance. The organizers hope

Top to Bottom: JabergAward Recipients Hilary D'Angelo, Cez
Generoso, and Brandon Velez with Dr. Gwynn Kessler; I
majors line up for graduation.

to hold similar forums in the future.

And on February 19, the Religion Graduate Student
Association, along with UF Amnesty International, co-
hosted a talk by School of the Americas Watch founder,
Fr. Roy Bourgeois, entitled "Latin America Project." His
talk covered the history of SOA Watch's efforts to close
the School of the Americas.
Above: Clint Bland, JacobJones, and Amy Brown.


Around the Department Ia

I' FcIt N I

Gwynn Kessler will be moving to Swarth-
more College to begin a new position in Fall
2009. We thank her for her many contribu-
tions during her time at UF, and especially
for her outstanding work as undergraduate
coordinator. We wish her and her family the
very best in their new home! Dr. Kessler's
book Conceiving Israel: The Fetus in Rabbinic
S... .... '-ll be published later this year by
Pennsylvania State University Press.

Vasudha Narayanan gave two talks this spring
on Hinduism in Southeast Asia: "Kanchi,
Kambuja, and Kamban: Tamil connections
with Cambodia" in the Department of South
and Southeast Asian Studies, University of
California, Berkeley and "Angkor Wat and
Hindu Temples in the Khmer Empire" at the
University of California, Davis.

Jason Neelis received a research fellowship to
participate in a project on "Dynamics in the
History of Religions between Asia and Eu-
rope" ( at Ruhr
University in Bochum, Germany from late
April 2009 through March 2010. He is study-
ing processes of religious formation and pat-
terns of expansion with German colleagues
and other international fellows while finish-
ing a book on trade networks and the trans-
mission of Buddhism.

Anna Peterson gave a keynote lecture at the
Ohio Northern University conference on
"Recreate, Replace, Restore." She also com-
pleted a new book, Everyday Ethics and So-
cial Change: The Education ofDesire, which
will be published by Columbia University
Press in August 2009. In April, Dr. Peterson
was named a University of Florida Research
Foundation Professor for 2009-2011.

Mario Poceski published a new book, Intro-
ducing Chinese R, '. .. which will be pub-
lished by Routledge in June of this year. More

information is available at www.routledge.

Whitney Sanford presented papers at several
meetings this spring, including one on "Re-
thinking Gandhi and Global Nonviolence" at
the Global Nonviolence International Con-
ference at James Madison University in April.
In December she traveled to Australia to par-
ticipate in a panel on "Playing God? 'GMOs'
Miracles, and Monsters." She also published
an essay titled "The Future of Food: Assess-
ing Agriculture, Livelihoods and Food Se-
curity in a Hungry World" in the Journal of
Agricultural andEnvironmentalEthics.

Bron Taylor presented three invited lectures
abroad this year, one at the Arne Naess Sym-
posium, Centre for Environment and Devel-
opment in Oslo, Norway; another at the Uni-
versidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas and
Unidad Academica Puerto Williams, Chile's,
and at the Freiburg Forum on Environmental
Governance, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.
Last fall he also presented the prestigious
Wrigley Lecture at Arizona State University
entitled "Beyond Taboo: The Interdisciplin-
ary Imperative in Environmental and Sustain-
ability Studies" and a talk at the American
Academy of Religion's annual meeting. This
spring he presented an invited Earth Day lec-
ture at Syracuse University and a keynote ad-
dress at a conference on the Humanities and
Sustainability at Florida Gulf Coast Univer-
sity. Professor Taylor also continues to serve
as Editor-in-Chief for the quarterly Journal
for the Study ofR :. Nature and Culture.
This year he has published two book chapters,
"From the Ground Up: Dark Green Religion
and the Environmental Future" in F. ,
and the Environment, ed. Donald Swearer
(Harvard University Press, 2008) and "Sea
Spirituality, Surfing, & Aquatic Nature Re-
ligion," in Deep Blue: Critical R,',.... on

Nature, R. '. and Water (Equinox, 2008).
Additionally the first paperback edition of
his Encyclopedia of R. -'.. and Nature was
published. His next book, Dark Green Reli-
gion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary
Future (University of California Press), will
be published in Fall 2009.

Manuel VAsquez will attend the Latin Ameri-
can Studies Association meeting in Rio de Ja-
neiro in June, where he will present on his re-
search on Latino migrants in the New South,
along with Philip Williams from Political
Science, Tim Steigenga from Florida Atlantic
University, and their Mexican, Guatemalan,
and Brazilian collaborators. Rutgers Univer-
sity Press published their co-written book,
A Place to Be: Brazilian, Guatemalan, and
Mexican Immigrants in Florida' New Desti-
nations, in March 2009. The book presents
the results of the first phase of a multi-year,
cross-disciplinary research project supported
by the Ford Foundation. Preliminary results
of the second phase, which has focused on La-
tino immigrants, religion, and inter-ethnic re-
lations in Atlanta, will be presented in March
2010 at major conference co-sponsored with
the Candler School of Theology at Emory

Robin Wright co-edited a new book titled
Native Christians:Modes ,i ,I.... of Chris-
tianity among I '.. ... Peoples ofthe Amer-
icas, in collaboration with Aparecida Vilaga.
The book, published by Ashgate, reflects on
the modes and effects of Christianity among
indigenous peoples of the Americas, drawing
on comparative analysis of ethnographic and
historical cases. It includes essays by a number
of prominent Latin American, North Ameri-
can, and European scholars. Dr. Wright has
also edited a forthcoming special issue of The
Journal for the Study ofR. '. Nature and
Culture on the theme of "The Religious Lives
of Amazonian Plants."

As we say goodbye to recent graduates, we remember our department's friends and alumni fondly. We thank you for all your contributions over
the years, and we hope you will stay in touch. Please contact us with your news, announcements, and changes of address.

Spring/Summer 2009, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 2

Seth Bryant defended his M.A. thesis in Fall
2008 and will be moving this summer to
Nashville, where he will begin Ph.D. study at
Vanderbilt University.

Rose Caraway will present a paper as part of
a panel on "Revolution and Christianity in
Cuba" at the Latin American Studies Asso-
ciation International Congress in Rio de Ja-
neiro in June. Rose is traveling with support
from a travel grant from the UF Center for
Latin American Studies.

Eleanor Finnegan presented a paper titled
"Unearthing Aspects of Lived Religion: An
Investigation of Rural Muslim Agricultural
Communities in the United States" at the
Sixth Annual Duke/UNC Islamic Studies
Conference, which was held at the Univer-
sity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, April
4-5, 2009. In July Eleanor will be presenting
a paper titled "Meaning Making in an Ameri-
can Medinah and Mazar Defining Progress
among Muslim Farm Communities in the
United States:' at the Third Annual Inter-
national Conference of the International
Society for the Study of Religion, Nature,
and Culture in Amsterdam. Eleanor has also
received a Graduate Student Course Devel-
opment Grant from the Center for European
Studies. She is developing and teaching a new
course, which will be cross listed with Reli-
gion and European Studies, entitled Stories
and Histories of Muslims in Europe. This
course will use literature as a starting point
to explore the historical interactions between
Muslims and the West and their influence on
issues today. Finally, she has been invited to
join the editorial board of the journal Islamic

Robin Globus presented a paper at the "Rec-
reate, Replace, Restore" conference on en-
vironmental philosophy at Ohio Northern
University in April, on the topic of"Re-cre-
ation's Shadow Side: Exploring Narratives of

Gayle Lasater received a CLAS Dissertation
Fellowship this year and was a finalist for the
2009 Madelyn Lockhart Dissertation Fellow-
ship. Gayle will be finishing her dissertation
on Mormon missions in the Americas this
summer and moving to Philadelphia, where
she will teach at Temple University.

Todd LeVasseur presented a paper titled "Re-
placing Ice with Water" and also served on a
panel on ecological restoration at the "Rec-
reate, Replace, Restore" Conference at Ohio
Northern University in April.

Leah Sarat has written an entry on "Mexico:
Indigenous Religions:' which will be pub-
lished in The Encyclopedia of R. '. in
America, edited by Charles H. Lippy and Pe-
ter W. Williams (CQ Press, 2010).

Caleb Simmons gave several presentations
this spring, including a talk on "Ka-ma and
Commodification: Misappropriations of
the Ka-ma Sutra" at the Ka-ma Sutra Forum
here in Gainesville in January; a presentation
titled "Severed Heads and Intersubjectiv-
ity: Gaze Politics in Anti-British Political
Iconography of mid-20th-Century India" at
the South Asian Studies Association Annual
Conference in April, and a talk at the Florida
State University Graduate Symposium in
February, titled "A Sight that Beholds: Gaze
Politics and Religious Intersubjectivity."

This summer, recent Ph.D. graduates Sam
Snyder and Gavin van Horn will both be
attending a summer institute funded by the
National Endowment for the Humanities at
Arizona State University on environmental
philosopher Aldo Leopold. Sam also received
a fellowship to conduct research at the Na-
tional Sporting Library in Virginia, where he
will study the historical connections among
conservation and fly fishing. Sam is presently
teaching in the Department of Religion at
Kalamazoo College in Michigan.

I Graduate Student Newsf

11(6 C]r'21I e New I1CCV

The undergraduate students and all the mem-
bers of the department are sad to say farewell
to Dr. Gwynn Kessler, who has been an out-
standing mentor for our majors and minors
during her time as undergraduate coordina-
tor. Thank you Dr. Kessler for all your con-
The Religion undergraduate organization,
SOARS, was active this spring in defending

the department and the study of religion at
UF in the wake of threatened cuts. SOARS
continues to grow and is an active and con-
structive presence in the department and the
Rebecca Quinones, who graduated from UF
in December with a Religion B.A., is now in-
terning at a non-profit organization in Jack-
sonville called Dreams Come True, which

grants dreams to children with life-threat-
ening illnesses. Rebecca recently received a
full scholarship to Harvard Divinity School,
where she will begin work in Fall 2009 on a
Masters in Theological Studies with a con-
centration in Religion, Ethics, and Politics.
At Harvard, Rebecca might run into fellow
Religion major Hilary D'Angelo, who will be
attending Harvard Law School.

Spring/Summer 2009, Connections, A Newsletter of the Department of Religion at the University of Florida

page 3

The Center for the Study of Hindu Tradi-
tions (CHiTra) continues to have several
co-sponsored events with academic units
around the campus. In January 2008, it col-
laborated with The School ofMusic and The
Center for World Arts at the University of
Florida to have a fabulous sitar recital. Josh
Feinberg, the featured artist, was accompa-
nied by Javad Butah on the tabla. Both Josh
and Javad have played in many prestigious
venues around the world. The HPNP au-
ditorium at UF was packed with more than
three hundred students, faculty, administra-
tors, and members of the community. Josh
also gave talks on Hindustani Music and a
sitar-demonstration to two sections of the
Introduction to World Music class.

In April, CHiTra worked with the UF chap-
ter of The Society for the Promotion of
Indian Classical Music and Culture (SPIC-
MACAY), a vibrant student organization to
organize "Sangeet Sammelan: A Weekend
of Classical Indian Music and Dance." The
event featured several accomplished musi-
cians and dancers. Mrs. Abhilasha Chawd-
hary gave a lecture-demonstration with the
Kathak style of classical Indian dance. Mrs.
Mathura Alladi (vocal music), founder-
director of the Jathiswara School of Dance
and Music in Gainesville, and Dr. Meera
Sitharam (veena) gave a superb concert of
south Indian classical (Carnatic) music.

CHiTra also co-sponsored the Global Reli-
gion in Practice lectures by Professors Tom
Tweed (University of Texas) and Norman
Wirzba (Duke).



352-392-7395 (fax)

I vltheI Chair I

It has been an eventful spring semester for our department. First, the good
news: our department, as you can see from the newsletter, is thriving. We have
been engaged in teaching, graduating doctoral students, writing articles and
books, editing journals and anthologies, getting fellowships and grants, and
serving the university and our profession in several capacities.
In addition to all the exciting events noted in this newsletter, students,
faculty, and friends of the department were keeping a dose eye on the Univer-
sity of Florida's budget crisis. As many of you know, the state and the universi-
ty have faced a large decrease in revenue this year. Anticipating greatly reduced
funds from the legislature, the university administration asked all colleges and
departments to prepare for a possible ten-percent cut. The College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences administration developed a plan that would include greatly
reducing a small number of departments and programs. Religion was one of
those, along with the Departments of Geology and Communication Sciences
and Disorders. In the event of worst-case scenario cuts from the legislature,
Religion faced layoffs of up to nine faculty members. Many of you were aware
of this potential crisis, and we appreciate very much your expressions of sup-
port. It has meant a great deal to us to know that we have such good friends.
After all the worry of the past few months, we are very happy to report

that neither Religion nor either of the other targeted
departments in our college will face cuts. The state
budget cuts for our university came in at $72.7 mil-
lion. But when one added tuition increases and other
line item income from the state, the overall number
was a bit better than expected. Obviously, the recur-
ring cuts will be a major setback to UF as a whole, but the university adminis-
tration has found ways to meet these cuts without widespread faculty layoffs.
Many people, including many of you, lobbied legislators to preserve funding
for education in our state, and your efforts paid off-not just for the Depart-
ment of Religion and UF, but for public education at all levels.
The crisis has helped clarify both our strengths as a department and
some areas in need of improvement. We will be working on those issues in the
months to come. In the meantime, we are especially proud of our students,
undergraduate and graduate, who continue to excel despite uncertain times.
We are planning some exciting events for the next year and will keep you
informed about them. We hope you will be able to join us for some, if not all
of them.
Vasudha Narayanan, Chair

Alumni Lectr Fc I und (6]

The Department of Religion hopes to provide students with academic experi-
ences that will offer perspectives on religion's role in our everyday lives. We
hope that through an Alumni Lecture Series and other activities, both students and
alumni will gain insights from some of today's most brilliant minds. These occasions
will also offer the opportunity for today's classes to connect with those who came
before them.
Please consider a gift to the Department of Religion to support the depart-
ment's critical educational activities for those followingin your footsteps. Please com-
plete the form and return to the address below. Thanks for your support!

Yes! I would like to support the Alumni Lecture Series! (Fund #00767)

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Gainesville FL 32604-2425. E-mail:

Department of Religion
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
107 Anderson Hall
PO Box 117410
Gainesville FL 32611-7410

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