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Message from the Director: Since its founding, the Center
has led the university, the ASU community, and the academy with its cutting-edge research projects, innovative student programs, and vibrant public events.
We made our mark early on by exploring terrorism and efforts to counter violent extremism. No one disputed that religion played a part in global violence, but we surprised audiences by showing how religion was involved—and that religion itself was not “the problem.” But we didn’t stop there. In a second major phase, the Center illuminated how pervasively religion touches society. We showed how secular institutions and practices—human rights, “global citizenship,” and science and technology— are defined and influenced by how religion gets left out, for good and ill. Religion still informs, resists, or overlaps these secular discourses and domains. That is, religion is always in the room—even when we think we have closed the door on it. Again, though, we didn’t stop there. Recently, the Center has built out new lines of research that respond to rising tides of nationalism, authoritarianism, and anti-democratic movements throughout the world. This past year, we deepened our partnership with The Cronkite School, launching a new initiative on religion, journalism, and democracy, including public programming and a new undergraduate class on religion and the media. In this era of “fake news” and growing civic distrust, we fostered innovative training between
scholars and journalists to make their research and expertise more accessible to the public. Under the leadership of Yasmin Saikia, the Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Initiative has nurtured new understandings of peace. Through lectures and classes on oral history—and a new book People’s Peace: Towards a New Human Future coming out—the initiative has introduced exciting ways of imagining and ultimately achieving peace. To support our work, we have brought new people onboard, including director of strategic initiatives Tracy Fessenden and research professor Mark Woodward—both critical additions with deep expertise. The ensuing pages tell a story of growth and impact this past year—of the faculty, students, visiting speakers, and donors who have supported Center efforts to make our world a better place. The report also showcases the Center’s vigor and ambition as we face the future. In other words, we are not stopping now Happy reading! Sincerely,
John D. Carlson Interim Director
CONTENTS Features: 2 Center names director of
Research & Public Scholarship:
6-7 In the news: Public
14-15 Religion, journalism, &
scholarship speaks to today’s pressing issues
4-5 Year in Review
8-9 Strengthening civil society
3 Seed grants break new research
16-17 Envisioning peace
in an era of “fake news”
18-21 Countering violent extremism
10-13 Religion & democracy
22-23 Beyond secularization
at home & abroad
Student Programs: 24-25 2019 Undergraduate Research Fellows
& Certificate in Religion & Conflict
26-27 Friends of the Center research awards
28 Friends of the Center 29 Honoring John Whiteman’s legacy
PEOPLE Faculty & Staff: Student Interns: Campbell Punnett Sociology
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies
Assistant Research Professor
Dominique Reichenbach Global Studies
Marcela Saenz Religious Studies
Assistant Research Administrator
Communication, Outreach & Event Coordinator CONTENTS
CENTER NAMES DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC INITIATIVES
allegiances drive change in the deep knowledge about religion and world, for good and for ill, we need American culture. to be fearless about thinking big,” Fessenden said. “We need to gather “I want to expand and deepen the resources and conversations these IN ORDER TO SEE projects help to nurture,” expertise from AND RESPOND across the Fessenden said. “I’m MEANINGFULLY disciplines, the also eager to make the TO THE WAYS professions and Center a forum for the the institutions THAT RELIGIOUS most important voices, of civil society SYMBOLS, LANGUAGE at and beyond ASU, and bring them AND ALLEGIANCES on religion and the rise to bear on DRIVE CHANGE IN THE of authoritarian and questions the nationalist movements WORLD, FOR GOOD academy has the world over.” AND FOR ILL, seldom sought WE NEED TO BE to engage.” “John Carlson and FEARLESS ABOUT the Center’s assistant THINKING BIG. The director of director, Carolyn Forbes, strategic initiatives position was and I have been working for the created to help the Center branch last year and a half on a major, out into new endeavors. Among multidisciplinary collaborative on the her activities, Fessenden will lead task of caring for truth in a postsignificant new research initiatives, truth era,” Fessenden said. expand academic and community partnerships, and create a program Carlson, the Center’s current interim of workshops, panels, and seminars director, originally approached with visiting scholars. Jeffrey Cohen, Dean of the Humanities, about bringing another Fessenden already has her hand senior scholar into the Center. in a number of projects affiliated Fessenden immediately came to mind. with the Center. One is a new class on religion, politics, and “We are so thrilled to have Tracy media, which she co-teaches with join us,” Carlson said. “We were Fernanda Santos, a professor of looking for a senior faculty member practice at the Walter Cronkite and recognized scholar of Tracy’s School of Journalism and Mass stature to take on this new position. Communication, author, and former Her powerful intellect and keen Phoenix bureau chief for The New insight will be a crucial asset to the York Times. life of the Center.”
Tracy Fessenden, the Steve
and Margaret Forster Professor of Religious Studies, joins the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict as the first director of strategic initiatives beginning in Fall 2019. “I’ve been treasuring up the news of this move for some time,” Fessenden said. “I’m delighted that it’s now official. The colleagues I’m joining at the Center are among those I most esteem in the world. Moving there feels like coming home.” “In order to see and respond meaningfully to the ways that religious symbols, language and 2 •
Other projects in her portfolio include a collaborative working group on the fate of civil discourse and moral capital in American life and another on climate change and apocalyptic thought in America. These projects draw from Fessenden’s expertise and
Rachel Bunning contributed to this story.
seed grants break new research ground Apocalypticism. Climate Change. Moral Capital. Refugees. With a combination of Center seed funding and external support, the Center is launching a series of faculty seminars and research projects to address these and other challenges. These new projects engage faculty and graduate students in collaborations that cut across disciplinary boundaries and advance new scholarship and public engagement. “Apocalypticism, Climate Change, and the American Imagination” brings together the Global Futures Laboratory and Narrative Storytelling Initiative into a new Center collaboration. Led by religious studies professors Gaymon Bennett and Tracy Fessenden and journalism professor Steven Beschloss, the project aims to strengthen understanding and generate new stories about the power of apocalyptic narratives and other religious visions to shape responses to the climate crisis. Philosophy professor Joan McGregor and religious studies professor Tracy Fessenden will lead a faculty seminar on “Recovering Our Moral Capital” that will further the Center’s work on religion and civic life. Funded by the National Institute for Civil Discourse, the seminar which includes faculty from a variety of fields and different political and intellectual
orientations. The goal is to explore the role that civility, moral values, and civic norms and practices play in American life. In a complementary project beginning in 2020, faculty affiliates and journalists will team up to explore the moral and civic foundations of democratic life with “Recovering Truth: Religion, Journalism and Democracy in a Post-Truth Era.” The Center has provided seed funding for two projects related to our work in religion and peace studies. In his new project, “Strangers in Our Midst: Muslim Refugees in South Asia,” religious studies professor and Center faculty affiliate Chad Haines will advance research in Pakistan and India on the cultural values held by communities towards strangers, particularly refugees deemed as “other.” This research is part of a larger, collaboration with Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies Yasmin Saikia that explores the history and politics of coexistence among different ethnic and religious populations in South Asia. Sujey Vega (School of Social Transformation) and Christiane Reves (School of International Letters and Cultures) are leading the project “Faith-Based Responses to Migrants and Refugees.” Their research explores global questions on migration by comparing the role faith-based
networks play in responding to migrants and refugees in Berlin, Germany and Phoenix, Arizona. This seed grant continues the Center’s commitment to these issues as previously demonstrated in the critical work of sociology professor Douglas Kelley, a 2018 seed grant winner. Political scientist David Siroky also received seed funding for “The Etiology of Violence in Cultures of Honor,” a project that develops a theory of the role honor plays in conflict—an often overlooked factor in conflict studies. Siroky looks at how insults to honor, and the need to restore it through blood revenge, can be a major factor in violence. Contrary to certain assumptions, religion is not an essential feature of honor killings and blood revenge. In addition to these projects, 2020 will also see the expansion of long-standing and cutting-edge work on religion, science and technology with a new grant from the Templeton Religion Trust. Since its inception, the Center has awarded over $260,000 in seed funding that has generated nearly $8 million in externally funded grants. These investments promote the growth of new ideas, new methods, and new responses to the complex array of challenges in contemporary global life. FEATURES
YEAR IN REVIEW FA LL
S P R I N G
2018-19 Undergraduate Research Fellows convene
CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER
The New Yorker publishes Anand Gopal’s “Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom”
Sufi, Salafi, Shi’i: Sectarian Discourses in Nigeria
Sani Umar (Ahmadu Bello University-Zaria, Nigeria) discusses religious sectarianism in Nigeria, detailing its influences on radicalization, media, politics, and intergroup relations
SPECIAL EVENT Religion, Journalism, and Democracy Daniel Burke, religion editor at CNN, joins moderators John Carlson and Kristin Gilger in discussing the role of religion, the university, and the media in promoting democratic culture
SPECIAL PANEL EVENT Religious and Social Change in the Middle East Rozina Ali (The New Yorker), Edith Szanto (American University of IraqSulaimani), and Anand Gopal discuss how conflict and violence reshape religious practice, belief, and community
OCT 2018 Faculty affiliate Carolyn Warner publishes on the role of canon law in holding priests accountable for sexual abuse in Newsweek and The Conversation
The story introduces the world to Syria’s revolutionary councils, deftly uncovering the voices of everyday Syrians pursuing democratic self-rule
Burke meets with undergraduate religious studies students to discuss the role of religion in public life and the range of career options available as a religious studies major
2018 OCT 2018 SEP 2018 Anand Gopal leads a workshop on writing for public audiences with graduate students from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
SEP 2018 Release of faculty affiliate Catherine O’Donnell’s book Elizabeth Seton: American Saint
OCT 2018 John Carlson moderates a panel discussion featuring Ross Douthat (The New York Times) Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review), and Amy Sullivan (former editor at Time & Washington Monthly) exploring the role religion plays in public life, including its influence on civil religion, voting patterns, and political polarization. Co-sponsored with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership
Workshop on Religion, Journalism, and Democracy First of four workshops that are part of an initiative spearheaded by John Carlson, Kristin Gilger, and Anand Gopal in which the Center and the Cronkite School team up to cross-train scholars and journalists
DEC 2018 Interactions & Interchanges: Literature, Culture, Globalization International conference held in Lahore, Pakistan—part of a Center-led partnership between ASU and Kinnaird College for Women—explores common themes in American and Pakistani literature, highlighting the emergence of new and previously marginalized voices in literature, film, art, poetry, and drama
THE MAXINE & JONATHAN MARSHALL SPEAKER SERIES
CONVERSATIONS AT THE CENTER
The Invention of Humanity: Equality and Cultural Difference in World History
Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs
Prosperity, Politics, and Pentecostal Power in Nigeria Anthea Butler (University of Pennsylvania) discusses how Pentecostalism is reshaping Nigeria’s religious and political landscape
Siep Stuurman (Utrecht University) traces the evolution of the concept of a common humanity across civilizations from ancient times to the present
Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor of The Washington Post, joins moderators John Carlson and Kristin Gilger in discussing how increasing attention to inclusion and diversity requires increasing attention to religion’s impact on current events
HARDT-NICKACHOS LECTURES IN PEACE STUDIES
Luce/ACLS symposium on Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs
Surviving Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak
JAN 2019 Sojourners magazine publishes “Silicon Valley’s Original Sin” by faculty affiliate Gaymon Bennett. The story showcases religion’s influence on technology development.
Selma Leydesdorff (University of Amsterdam) gives voice to the women of Srebrenica, showing how oral history does more than just trace one historical narrative; it also shows how we interpret past experiences and tells us about our expectations for living lives of peace in the future.
A group of distinguished journalists and scholars discuss connections between religion scholarship and the training and practice of journalism, with an eye to promoting greater public understanding on the role of religion in international affairs
2019 MAY 2019
Student Awards Ceremony
RELIGION AND CONFLICT: ALTERNATIVE VISIONS LECTURE SERIES
Center annual luncheon recognizes winners of the Friends of the Center research awards, Undergraduate Research Fellows, and students who earned a Certificate in Religion and Conflict
Tracy Fessenden’s book Religion Around Billie Holiday named “Best Jazz Read of 2018” by Arts Fuse Magazine
Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The Atlantic, explores the resurgence of religious and ethnic nationalisms around the world
Yasmin Saikia, the Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, speaks on “Transdisciplinarity and the Humanities” as part of an event sponsored by the Institute for Humanities Research
Religion, Nationalism, and the Future of Democracy
Religion, Media, and Climate Change: What’s the Story? Journalist Ben Ehrenreich (The Nation) and professor Tulasi Srinivas (Emerson College) join moderator Jeffrey Cohen, ASU Dean of Humanities, in a conversation about how religion, media, and climate change intersect within the international sphere
MAY 2019 The National Institute for Civil Discourse awards Joan McGregor and Tracy Fessenden a grant for a project on “Recovering Our Moral Capital”
MAY 2019 Led by Ben Hurlbut, a group of science, technology and legal experts gathers at Harvard University to explore the ethical and legal implications of gene editing— part of a new initiative on Science, Technology and Human Identity
in the news:
PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP SPEAKS TO TODAY’S MOST PRESSING ISSUES
Syria’s Last Bastion of Freedom ANAND GOPAL, The New Yorker |
Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-gopal
“There was now something rooted within Hossein…that could never be pried away. ‘Before the revolution, we used to live the life of a herd…But then we realized the sheer number of lies we were living under.’ Now he was awakened to the world: to the power contained in thousands of tiny acts of solidarity and defiance, and to the exhilarating possibility that the future of Syria could rest in its people’s own hands.”
How American Bipartisan Political Consensus on US-Mexico Border Policy Kills Migrants ALEXANDER AVIÑA, Expansión CNN |
Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-avina
“In the current political climate, it may be tempting to see Trump and his party’s demand for a border wall…as a partisan issue. But…it is a symptom of a broader, bipartisan approach to migration that has been created and sustained by both Republicans and Democrats…It will take confronting this cross-party program of lethal cruelty at the border to address this very real humanitarian crisis.”
Want to end child sex abuse in the Church, Pope Francis? Change Canon Law CAROLYN WARNER, Newsweek “While the Catholic church has been affected by secular trends in declining religiosity, as have other mainstream religions, its obtuseness on how it has handled clergy child sex abuse may be further damaging adherence… The risk for the Church is that while the leadership is praying for their own conversion, the faithful will convert to something else.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-warner
RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
Reframing Refugee Children’s Stories FERNANDA SANTOS, The New York Times “Movement means disruption, and every disruption forces us to learn and adapt. It forces us to grow… What makes it memorable, though, is that in all these accounts [of displacement], hope emerges as a kind of belligerent reaction to pain and loss.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-santos
Remembering American New book explores how saint Elizabeth Seton’s legacy religion shaped Billie & how it continues to inspire Holiday’s music work with immigrants CATHERINE O’DONNELL, The Conversation “If there was anything distinctly American about [Saint Elizabeth] Seton’s experience of religion, it was that she saw around her many different faiths practiced openly…[Americans] worshiped in any number of ways, and Seton believed they all had value.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-odonnell
TRACY FESSENDEN, Arizona PBS “Holiday was also influenced by the music of Jewish composers who helped to shape the sound of the 20th century, including Irving Berlin and the Gershwins. ‘What they put in the American songbook was a very distinctive sound of a particular way of understanding freedom and openness,’ Fessenden says.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-fessenden
Middle Path Islam MARK WOODWARD, Inside Indonesia “Cosmopolitan sensibilities…not only open up multiple educational pathways for individual Muslims, but new possibilities for Indonesia’s place in the world…There is a growing consensus among Indonesian Muslims that actively promoting the study of traditional Islam and local cultures are important strategies for combating religious extremism.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-woodward
How Christian missionary media shaped the world JASON BRUNER, The Conversation “Missionaries believed that God worked with them through religious conversions, moral reform, and material and economic progress to spread the truth of Christianity. The role of missionary media became foundational in providing information and images of suffering in the world. This role often pushed them into ever more remote territories. The information that they sent enabled many Christians in the West to more easily imagine the world as a globally connected community.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-bruner
Silicon Valley’s Original Sin GAYMON BENNETT, Sojourners “It’s this belief—that technology will save us because there are no real trade-offs between self-actualization, wealth, and progress— that ultimately makes the wheels go ’round. The real story of Silicon Valley is a story of faith that admits no darkness…But without recognizing shadow, there can be no moral realism. And without moral realism, the potential for genuine innovation, beyond superficial updates, is gone.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-bennett
On Digital Immortality: In the future, you will be forever GREGG ZACHARY, ASU NOW “Today, as we live we spawn digital artifacts—and these are what we increasingly leave behind. In the future, organizing and presenting these artifacts will be part of the process of revolutionizing the concept of life after death. Our physical bodies won’t persist, but valued aspects of our insights and wisdom can.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-zachary
The Chinese gene-editing experiment was an outrage. The scientific community shares the blame. BEN HURLBUT, The Washington Post “The seductive promise of engineering better genes for one’s children…denigrates that child and devalues the richness of humanity itself. The Chinese experiment reveals just how alluring these new technologies have become. It also reveals how overdue we are for a thorough conversation about the futures we want to embrace—and the futures we find abhorrent.” Read full story: bit.ly/csrc-hurlbut1 RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
strengthening civil society IN AN ERA OF “FAKE NEWS”
Democracy and the institutions on which it depends are being tested today in ways unseen in recent decades. Populist movements have swept across the globe, while authoritarian regimes routinely challenge democratic norms once taken for granted.
Key institutions of civil society— the academy, press, and religious organizations—help protect democratic life and principles when they reinforce one another. Unfortunately, the gap between scholarship about religion and the media’s understanding of religion is wider than ever.
Over the past year, the Center teamed up with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to address this challenge. Funded with a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies’ Program in Religion, Journalism and International Affairs, the project brought together journalists and scholars from religious studies and related fields to participate in workshops, develop new courses, produce public scholarship for leading op-ed pages and journals, and engage with distinguished visiting journalists, a number of whom are featured in the pages ahead.
Participants discovered what they had in common and what they could learn from each other. “One of the things I drew from the workshops,” said Channel 12 news anchor Mark Curtis, “is that both journalists and scholars are involved in sticky questions of interpretation. This gets even murkier when you think that our institutions of democracy, such as the courts, are involved in the process of deciding what religion is.” A sample of articles produced by project participants can be seen on page 6-7 in this report.
Left to right: The Cronkite School’s Bill Silcock and Kristin Gilger provide feedback on what makes a good media pitch “hook” Vanessa Ruiz, head of Cronkite’s Borderlands bureau, teaches faculty how to prepare for TV, radio, or podcast interviews
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SCHOLARS AND JOURNALISTS WORKING TOGETHER Project leadership:
Project Team Leader (Cronkite School)
Project Team Leader
LUIGE DEL PUERTO
Associate Professor of History
Associate Professor of History
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Anchor, Channel 12 News
Associate Publisher & Editor, Arizona News Service
Professor of Religious Studies
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Reporter, ASU Now
Assistant Professor of Journalism & Mass Communication
Professor of Political Science
Professor of Political Science
Associate Professor of History
Reporter, Arizona Professor of Practice in Journalism Republic/AZCentral.com & Mass Communication
Professor of Journalism & Mass Communication
Professor of Practice in Journalism & Mass Communication
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Reporter, Phoenix New Times
Professor of Chinese Language & Literatures
Former Senior Producer, KJZZ
Professor of Political Science
RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
religion & democracy: at home & abroad O ur phones, TVs, computers,
and tablets provide a constant stream of media reports on civic unrest erupting in other countries. Meanwhile in the United States, political polarization has left people and communities feeling more divided than ever. In a 2018 survey, the Pew Research Center found that “Americans generally agree on democratic ideals and values they see as important for the United States—but they say the country is falling short in living up to them.” Only 58 percent of Americans say democracy in the United States is working well. Meanwhile, widespread concerns about the future of democracy span the globe. Through the initiative “Religion, Journalism and Democracy: Strengthening Vital Institutions of Civil Society,” the Center and Cronkite School organized a series of public conversations to try to make sense of it all. The events, which were moderated by project directors John Carlson and Kristin Gilger, featured leading journalists including CNN’s Daniel Burke, Peter Beinart of The Atlantic, Karen Attiah of The Washington Post, The New Yorker’s Rozina Ali, award-winning independent war correspondent Anand Gopal, and scholars Anthea Butler and Edith Szantos. The events went beyond the headlines to explore with more depth and nuance the threats that religious 10 •
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and ethnic forms of nationalism pose to democracy, as well as the ways that religious visions and values reinforce democracy. As you will see in the pages ahead, these conversations took audience members on a global tour, addressing the dynamics of religion and democracy in the United States, Nigeria, Europe, and the Middle East, among other places. Throughout these events, and in meetings with faculty and students, speakers stressed the importance of attending to the multifaceted roles the religion plays in society and politics. They also stressed the responsibilities of citizens, academics, and the media to promote democratic culture and deepen understanding of how religion and politics interact. “In the United States, we tend to take democracy—and free media— somewhat for granted,” says Gilger. “But now, with recent attacks not just on the press, but on many of our democratic institutions and practices, we simply can’t afford to take these freedoms for granted any longer.” Troy Hill contributed to this story.
I do not think
we have to be kumbaya. I do not think we have to agree on everything. I think that it is great that atheists and evangelicals debate on YouTube and that those videos get millions of views and people love it. But it’s a new phase that we’re in now, one where all of a sudden those discussions can become tinder boxes for something else. We’re in this atmosphere now where any sort of minor difference between people can become this explosive thing. There was a time in the recent past where atheists were guests at evangelical churches. We are just in a feverish moment. -DANIEL BURKE, Religion Editor, CNN
RELIGION, JOURNALISM, & DEMOCRACY featuring Daniel Burke In era of “fake news,” it is vital that the pillars that uphold civil society— academic institutions, the press, and religious organizations—remain united and defend democracy. Burke, religion editor at CNN, joined John Carlson and Kristin Gilger in exploring the role of religion, the university, and the media in promoting democratic culture.
Religion can be a force for
exclusive ethnic nationalism when you basically say, for instance, we are a Christian nation and therefore Muslims cannot truly be part of the American nation. Religion can also be a universal force, which offers a check against exclusive nationalism and reminds us of our universal obligations to one another. Religion can remind us that all people, whether they are in our nation or not, are children of God, and therefore have certain basic rights. To me, the universalistic elements of religion, the notion that we have obligations to all people, can be a way of preventing us from turning the nation into an idol.” -PETER BEINART, Contributing Editor, The Atlantic Professor of journalism & political science (City University of New York)
Background Image: FEB. 2019
RELIGION, NATIONALISM, & THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY featuring Peter Beinart
Religious and ethnic nationalisms are resurgent in democracies around the world. How does the media cover the religious dimensions of these movements? Are there other stories about religion and democratic culture that should be told? Beinart, contributing editor at The Atlantic and professor of journalism and political science at CUNY, joined John Carlson and Kristin Gilger in discussing these issues through a comparative approach. RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
religion & democracy: at home & abroad
SEP. 2018: RELIGIOUS & SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST featuring Edith Szanto (American University of Iraq-Sulaimani), Rozina Ali (The New Yorker), & Anand Gopal (ASU)
Many people often assume that religion is a cause of conflict in the Middle East, but rarely do we seek to understand how conflict and violence themselves reshape religious practice, belief, and community. What accounts for religious change or persistence in the midst of conflict? How do changes in politics, society, and culture affect religion? Szanto, Ali, and Gopal explored these questions in the context of conflict and post-conflict situations across Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. 12 â€˘
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One of the things I discovered
when I started this research in Nigeria was that every new year there are many pastors who come out with prophecies for the year. A lot of these prophecies talk about the nation, talk about leaders. It appears to me that this is a way to be able to influence political activity without actually being political. In other words, you can blame everything on God. The way you influence public policy in Nigeria partially is about being a prophet. For a political scientist you might think this has got to be the craziest thing, but if you put religion into context, specifically the proliferation of Pentecostalism, you can see how Pentecostalism is a way to influence the democratic process.” -ANTHEA BUTLER, Associate professor of religious studies & Africana studies (University of Pennsylvania)
The Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Speaker on Religion & Conflict
PROSPERITY, POLITICS, & PENTECOSTAL POWER IN NIGERIA featuring Anthea Butler Pentecostalism—the most rapidly growing religious movement in the world—has taken firm hold in Nigeria since 1999, and its churches and pastors have played a significant role in reshaping the political and economic forces at work in the country. Although the media tends to report on conflicts between Christians and Muslims, Butler’s talk focused more on the rise of Pentacostal influence, which, she argued, goes further in explaining the transformations in Nigerian politics and societies across religious groups. RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
religion, journalism, & international affairs CENTER HOSTS NATIONAL MEETING “Journalism is the first rough draft
of history.” These words, attributed to former Washington Post publisher Phil Graham, point to the significant role that journalism plays in society. But how does the news shape our understanding of religion? In particular, how does religion get covered in international affairs? What training do journalists receive in understanding religion’s multifaceted roles in conflict and peace, the environment, sustainability, health care, education, and law? With its cutting-edge work on issues such as these and its ongoing partnership with the Cronkite School, the Center was selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to host its annual symposium for the Religion, Journalism, and International Affairs (RJIA) program which is funded by 14 •
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the Henry Luce Foundation. The symposium brought together top scholars, including RJIA fellows and institutional grantees (of which ASU was one) as well as a number of journalists, providing these different groups vital opportunities to learn from one another. The symposium featured such internationally renowned journalists as Leila Fadel (NPR), Bob Smietana (Religion News Service), Liz Kinecke (CBS News), Jaweed Kaleem (Los Angeles Times), and Kelsey Dallas (Deseret News). Local journalists Vanessa Ruiz (Arizona PBS) and Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times) were also on hand, as were scholars from a range of academic disciplines, representing various universities. The ASU team was led by John Carlson and Anand Gopal from the Center and Kristin Gilger, William Silcock, and Fernanda Santos from Cronkite.
The three-day symposium gave journalists a chance to learn firsthand from scholars with deep expertise about how religion influences international politics, civil war, human rights, and climate change. It also provided scholars skills and opportunities for sharing their research findings during mock interviews and practice sessions on the PBS television set with Horizon host Ted Simons. The national symposium also generated significant dialogue with the wider public, as the Center hosted two public events (featured on p. 15) that invited faculty, students, and community members into conversation with The Nation’s Ben Ehrenreich and The Washington Post’s Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah.
Naturally, in journalism, if it
bleeds it leads. The depths to which religion and beliefs are used or manipulated by powerful interests and erupt into violence naturally tends to be the most salient and obvious entry point into these religious journalism sections. As far as examples of ‘bad coverage’ of religion, I think there are things that we have missed. I wish we had more about black spirituality, and more about cultures of mourning when a national tragedy happens, for example, after Charleston when Obama went to the church and gave a speech. Those are our big, global moments where you see people leaning into belief systems either for support or for comfort. I think that we need to do a better job of acknowledging that religion is a very powerful and important force in all human societies. We need to be able to not only cover it more, but also perhaps think about religious education even in schools. To a certain extent, I find it a little bit of a heavy lift to ask journalists to do the work of school systems in educating people about religion.” -KAREN ATTIAH, Global Opinions editor, The Washington Post
RELIGION, MEDIA, & CLIMATE CHANGE: WHAT’S THE STORY? featuring Ben Ehrenreich (The Nation) & Tulasi Srinivas (Emerson College) Journalist Ben Ehrenreich said the media isn’t telling the right stories about climate change. Anthropologist and religious studies professor Tulasi Srinivas argued that journalists and scientists are missing stories about how religions are transforming community responses to environmental change, and how environmental change is transforming religion. Ehrenreich, Srinivas, and moderator Jeffrey Cohen, ASU Dean of Humanities, discussed the intersection of these issues.
RELIGION, JOURNALISM, & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS featuring Karen Attiah (The Washington Post) How does media shape our understanding on the interaction of religious and secular forces regarding topics as diverse as conflict and peace, sustainability, migration, international development, health, education, gender, race, sexuality, and human rights? Attiah joined moderators John Carlson and Kristin Gilger in exploring how the media approaches the role of religion in public life, politics and policy, and how increasing attention to inclusion and diversity are bringing more voices to bear on such coverage. RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
envisioning peace EQUIPPING STUDENTS WITH NEW VISIONS FOR PEACE What is peace? How do historical, philosophical, religious, and political approaches shape our understanding of it? Are war and peace entangled concepts? Are women’s conceptions of peace different than men’s conceptions of peace?
These are some of the questions students explore in “Envisioning Peace,” an undergraduate course taught by Yasmin Saikia, professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies and Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies at the Center. For Saikia, the ability to consider and work through these questions is essential to cultivating a just and lasting peace. “In order to effectively construct a peaceable world and future,
we must begin by building a comprehensive vision of what such a world would look like,” says Saikia. “These detailed imaginings then provide a framework, giving us the ability to recognize what changes need to be made and what actions are needed to best promote peace.” Saikia’s course gives students the opportunity to engage with these concepts by looking at historical and religious understandings of peace, peace movements, and methods in peace studies, while also analyzing current issues in the context of a post-9/11 world. For Madeline Stull, a junior majoring in history with minors in Arabic studies and civic and economic thought and leadership, the class offered new, critical perspectives on the complexity of the world. “This class gave me a deeper understanding of how interdependent different areas of study are when thinking about
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peace in the world. Religion, history, culture, and politics all play a massive and influential role in how we think about peace and conflict,” says Stull. “This class pushed me to understand history’s unique role in prolonging or abating conflict, and I look forward to exploring that inquiry further in my honors thesis.” It is this kind of student empowerment and the potential for future engagement with these issues that makes Saikia particularly excited about the course. “Peace—and especially the process of working towards it—is a dynamic process, so providing students with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives that allow them to contribute to a more peaceable future is deeply important.”
HARDT-NICKACHOS LECTURE IN PEACE STUDIES SURVIVING GENOCIDE: THE WOMEN OF SREBRENICA SPEAK
Caught in the violence of war in
the mid-1990s, Bosnian Muslims became the victims of a brutal and bloodthirsty purge at the hands of Serbian forces. Murder, rape, plundering, and forced relocation on a massive scale ravaged the region, and the small town of Srebrenica became the site of the first genocide in Europe since World War II. During her visit to the Center, Selma Leydesdorff, professor of oral history and culture at the University of Amsterdam, gave voice to the women of Srebrenica in her lecture, “Surviving Genocide: The Women of Srebrenica Speak.” In a February 2019 interview, Yasmin Saikia spoke about why Leydesdorff was chosen to deliver the annual Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Lecture, and what is so important about her work. Q: To start us off, what is oral history, and what is its value? Oral history is more than just a method that historians use to do research. Oral history allows us to open up new sites of investigation, giving voice to memories that more traditional or state histories may not record. For one example, this approach creates avenues for unearthing mass atrocities that give way to more efficient reconciliation processes. People’s voices educate us on systemic injustice, including underlying causes, and show us how to rebuild healthy relationships. Oral history also serves to include
perspectives that may have been marginalized over time, shaking our historical consciousness and reinforcing the dignity of the human voice. This is important to peace studies because through human stories, people are able to connect and engage, advocate, contribute, and support the betterment of human communities. Q: You selected Selma Leydesdorff, an oral historian, as this year’s Hardt-Nickachos Speaker in Peace Studies. What do you think is important about her work in shaping the future of peace? Selma Leydesdorff’s work transformed her field and has made oral history an important tool for understanding trauma and postwar memories. Her work on the Holocaust and her more recent book on Srebrenica—which tells the survival stories of Bosnian women who were victimized in the war— have allowed people to come to terms with a violent history and have created pathways for living in peace between survivor communities. Her book on Bosnian women also provides an important critique of the silence and complacency about war’s violence and the politics surrounding it by governments
and international agencies such as United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. History reminds us of the forgotten and, in doing so, dignifies everyday people. This is necessary to continue building peace in our times. Leydesdorff inspires us to use history as a tool for peace rather than a medium that simply glorifies war. Q: How does her work fit into Peace Studies as a whole? Traditional history has glorified and narrated war as a pivotal tool for change, but Leydesdorff’s work focuses on the memory of people— the survivors’ memory—which celebrates life beyond violence. This approach reorients us as we think about peace: by capturing the lived history of ordinary people, we see that peace is a process in history, not merely an arrival. It provides an inspiring reminder that violence is never total; that underneath the debris of war, the human survives and can tell a story of resilience.
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countering violent extremism
For over 10 years Mark Woodward, a faculty member in the School of Historical,
Philosophical and Religious Studies, has been leading the Center’s research on countering violent extremism. With expertise in Islam and politics, his cutting-edge transdisciplinary projects have involved people from a range of disciplines resulting in numerous publications and innovative new methods for carrying out research in the digital age.
One of Woodward’s major projects, “Finding Allies for the War of Words: Mapping the Diffusion and Influence of Counter-radical Muslim Discourse,” was funded with a $6M grant from the Department of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative. In addition to producing over 70 publications, the project has spun out an additional $4M in projects with U.S. government partners, including the Office of Naval Research and USAID, and patented a social media monitoring system that has recently been incorporated as Artis LookingGlass. In fall 2019, Woodward formally joined the Center as research professor where he has continued to explore new projects. In this interview, Woodward discusses the development of this research and some of its key findings, and offers insight into the promises and pitfalls of transdisciplinary research. Q: What prompted you to develop the “Finding Allies” project? I had already been working with the Center on a number of interdisciplinary projects related to studies of religion and conflict. One of the most intriguing ideas we developed was a project with colleagues in computer science and mathematics. The Center gave us a seed grant to develop a proof-ofconcept for a web-mining program that could identify and track religious violence events that might lead to a predictive model. These projects, coupled with other initiatives the Center was leading, generated a fairly tight network of faculty who were excited by this new, transdisciplinary approach to real world problems. It was 18 •
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out of this network, and the early experiences of the Center in managing these projects, that “Finding Allies” was born.
effective strategies to counter it.
When DoD issued its first call for proposals for the Minerva Initiative in 2007, one of the areas that they were most interested in was religious and social transformation in Muslim societies. At that point it was hard to imagine anyone else developing a team that was more prepared to take on this task. Not only did we have my expertise on Islam and politics in Southeast Asia, but we also had colleagues with related expertise in Africa and South and Central Asia. That coupled with the work the Center was already doing made us incredibly well-positioned to make important contributions to understanding extremist violence and finding
For two reasons. First, the moral panic that followed the 9/ll attacks led to too much attention on violent extremism and too little on the efforts of Muslim leaders and organizations to counter it. I knew we had a better understanding of politics in Muslim societies than most others writing about it at the time. Second, ASU has programmatic and research strength in the study of religion and conflict and Muslim cultures. In addition, we had connections to researchers and institutions in the key regions that we wanted to study.
Q: Why did you focus on counter-radical discourse?
The size and scope of the Minerva program enabled us to build a
Mark Woodward discusses project details with graduate research assistants in religious studies and computer science.
Q: These projects were incredibly transdisciplinary. What were you able to accomplish by working with people from other disciplines that you wouldn’t have been able to by exclusively working with a team of religious studies scholars? Transdisciplinary efforts are crucial in explaining complex phenomena like religious extremism. Analyzing ideologies in ways religious studies scholars do is important, and by working with others we were able to reveal things about how prevalent certain ideologies were, and the social and geographic spaces they are found in.
Anthropology helped keep the differ, and about shared values and research centered on people and beliefs that can foster interfaith and their on-the-ground realities, and intercultural harmony. Some of our communications studies offered key takeaways were: 1) violence is insights into the rhetorical strategies not linked to any particular set of of violent and TRANSDISCIPLINARY religious beliefs; 2) counter-violent religious intolerance, EFFORTS ARE extremists. sectarianism, and CRUCIAL IN Working with hate speech lead EXPLAINING computer to violence; 3) COMPLEX scientists alienation, social PHENOMENA enabled us to isolation, and LIKE RELIGIOUS track shifts in real or perceived EXTREMISM. debates, and grievances make map contesting groups in social people vulnerable to radicalization, media in real time. And survey regardless of income or economic researchers enabled us to generate status; and 4) local family values cross-national comparisons about and cultural traditions such as attitudes and behaviors related to music, theatre, and dance are the extent of support for extremist powerful tools for countering ideologies. Solid foundations in extremism. all these disciplinary approaches proved to be essential to creating a Our team also made a number robust analytical framework. of significant contributions to the computational modeling of religioQ: What were the most political discourse. Led by Hasan important lessons you learned Davulcu in computer science, our from this project? team developed complex network models for tracking the interaction In “Finding Allies” we worked in and shifting alliances of various nine countries across West Africa, groups in response to events in Western Europe, and Southeast real time, for which we won several Asia. We learned a great deal about awards. how Muslim countries and cultures
multi-religious international team that would bring more depth to the study of counter-extremism. The team included 30 researchers representing 16 countries, over 11 languages, multiple religions, and stretched from the U.S. to Europe to West Africa, to the Middle East, and to South and Southeast Asia. This was an incredible advantage as we could carry out research in local languages and work in a diverse array of cultural settings.
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The Minerva Team poses for a group picture following an All-Hands Meeting. With over 30 members, the team included Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and non-religious researchers who hailed from 16 countries and spoke at least 11 different languages. This enabled us to run highly nuanced surveys in local languages, as well as carry out ethnographic research and craft computational tools that could mine data in natural languages.
Q: How do these apply to policy related to counteringviolent extremism? Countering violent extremism requires accurate information and effective and neutral security forces. It also requires soft power to promote pluralism, justice, and prosperity. Muslim leaders and organizations have taken the lead in countering violent extremism because they are positioned to draw on the Islamic cultures of peace in their local communities. Q: Your research shifted direction over the years, with your spin-off projects focusing on sectarianism and hate speech. What prompted you to make these shifts? We discovered that intolerance was the single most powerful variable explaining support for extremism. We also discovered that hate speech is a basic feature of violent 20 •
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extremist propaganda. Hate speech defines “others” as less than human and archetypes of evil. It justifies killing them. Q: Where do you think research on countering violent extremism (CVE) is headed? Where should it be headed? One of the things our research shows is the need to pay attention to local cultures and local issues. The most effective CVE strategies will come from those groups and individuals that are rooted in communities and can speak with authority because of those roots. It also takes effort and knowledge to recognize those voices, as they may not always come from the communities and in the forms we expect. I’m optimistic because CVE research is attracting a new generation of gifted young scholars from many disciplines,
countries, and cultures. There are a growing number of transdisciplinary conversations both in print and behind the scenes that offer the promise of new ideas and fresh thinking. And tools like LookingGlass have the sophistication not just to look for the “bad guys,” but to help us identify and amplify the voices of the vast majority of Muslims the world over who reject extremism. Q: What is next for your own research? For me, these projects have always been about more than just research. They are also efforts to find solutions to real problems that impact people’s lives. These projects brought to light many of the local activists working to promote religious pluralism, human rights, and women’s empowerment in Muslim communities around the world. Helping to make these groups visible, sometimes to each
other, has laid the foundation for new, creative strategies, and for moving local efforts into the global arena.
We have our eyes on new research projects concerned with issues Muslim communities face now that will build on what we have learned in the last decade. They will take
us back to places we have worked before and to new places with new issues. Stay tuned.
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Finding Allies and its related projects produced over 100 publications, providing insight into the dynamics of countering violent extremism and advancing the science of computational modeling of socio-political discourse. •
Alzahrani, S., Ceran, B., Alashri, S., Ruston, S., Corman, S., Davulcu, H., 2016, Story Forms Detection in Text through Concept-Based Co-Clustering, Proceedings of the IEEE International Conferences on Social Computing and Networking (SocialCom’16), pp. 258-265, Atlanta, GA. Corman, S. R. & Hitchcock, S. D. (2014). Media use and source trust among Muslims in seven countries: Results of a large random sample survey. Journal of Strategic Security, 6(4), 25-43. Hakim, M. A., Liu, J. H., Isler, L., & Woodward, M. (2015). Monarchism, national identity and social representations of history in Indonesia. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 18(4), 259-269. Jacobson, D. & Deckard, N. (2014). Surveying the Landscape of Integration: Muslim Immigrants in the United Kingdom and France, Democracy and Security, Vol 10, No. 2, pp. 113-131. Kim, N., Gokalp, S., Davulcu, H., Woodward M., (2013) LookingGlass: A Visual Intelligence Platform for Tracking Online Social Movements. Proceedings of International Symposium on Foundation of Open Source Intelligence and Security Informatics (FOSINT-SI), in
conjunction with IEEE ASONAM 2013, Niagara Falls, Canada. •
Kim, N., Tikves, S., Wang, Z., Davulcu, H., Githens-Mazer, J. (2013). MultiScale Modeling of Radical and Counter-Radical Islamic Organizations, ASE Human Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 182-194. Pieri, Z. P., Woodward, M., Yahya, M., Hassan, I. H., & Rohmaniyah, I. (2014). Commanding Good and Prohibiting Evil in Contemporary Islam: Cases from Britain, Nigeria and Southeast Asia. Contemporary Islam, 8(1), 37-55. Salehi, A., Davulcu, H. (2018). Detecting Antagonistic and Allied Communities on Social Media, IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Network Analysis and Mining (ASONAM’18), pp. 99106, Barcelona, Spain. Tikves, S., Gokalp, S., Temkit, M., Banerjee S., Ye, J., Davulcu, H. (2012, August). Perspective Analysis for Online Debates. Proceedings of International Symposium on Foundation of Open Source Intelligence and Security Informatics (FOISINT-SI 2012), in conjunction with 2012 IEEE/ACM Int. Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining.
Umar, M. S., Woodward, M. “The Izala Effect: Unintended Consequences of Salafi Radicalism in Indonesia and Nigeria,” Contemporary Islam. August 2019, 1-25.
Umar, M. S. (2012). The Popular Discourses of Salafi Radicalism and Salafi Counter-radicalism in Nigeria: A Case-study of Boko Haram, Journal of Religion in Africa, 42(2), 118-144.
Woodward, M., “Sectarianism, Culture and Politics,” Inside Indonesia, Jan 2018.
Woodward, M., “Resisting Salafism and the Arabization of Indonesian Islam” Contemporary Islam. May 2017, 11(3): 237-258.
Woodward, M., Rohmaniyah, I., Amin, A., & Coleman, D. (2010). Muslim Education, Celebrating Islam and Having Fun as CounterRadicalization Strategies in Indonesia. Perspectives on Terrorism, 4(4), 28-50.
Woodward, M., Umar, M. S., Rohmaniyah, I., & Yahya, M. (2013). Salafi Violence and Sufi Tolerance? Rethinking Conventional Wisdom. Perspectives on Terrorism, 7(6), 58-78.
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beyond secularization PILOTING NEW APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF RELIGION, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY IN PUBLIC LIFE I t is commonly assumed that
science and technology belong in the public sphere while religion and spirituality should be kept private. And many think it is self-evident that science, which is secular, drives progress, while religion is not only irrelevant to progress, but inhibits it. Building on a decade of research and programming on religion, science, and technology, the team of the Beyond Secularization project spent the last few years digging more deeply into these assumptions. With funding from the Templeton Religion Trust, the team completed a series of pilot studies between 2016 and 2019 around key sites in technology innovation, bioscience, environmentalism, and even new age movements to understand the influence of religion on technological development. The team explored these issues from philosophical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives. “A major outcome of our pilot research,” says Hava TiroshSamuelson, Regents Professor and director of Jewish Studies, “was deconstructing the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of the view that religion and science are necessarily in conflict.”
“In fact, what we have shown, is that we are living in a postsecular moment where science and technology are imbued with RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
religious and salvific meaning, and that what drives a lot of technological development is the view that it will deliver us transcendence in the world here and now.” Ben Hurlbut, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, agrees and goes further. “What our work has shown is that continuing to view religion, science, and technology as separate and conflictual, one concerned with the public and the other concerned with the private, is preventing us from grappling with and making effective policy choices around very real issues such as gene editing and environmental degradation,” says Hurlbut. The team produced over 20 articles, including a cover story by Gaymon Bennett in the January issue of Sojourners magazine, and is poised to begin work on a significantly expanded version of the project starting in Fall 2019. In addition to Tirosh-Samuelson and Hurlbut, the transdisciplinary research team also includes Gaymon Bennett, associate professor of religious studies, Linell Cady, founding director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, and Gregg Zachary, a writer and professor of practice in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.
NO ONE HAS TO ACTUALLY BELIEVE IN TECHNOLOGIES AS GODS. THEY BECOME GODS WHEN WE START INVESTING OUR HOPE AND IDENTITY IN THEM.
INNOVATION WITHOUT SHADOW, Gaymon Bennett I ’ve become captivated by the
vibrant metaphors of darkness and shadow in the world’s great spiritual traditions. Some are what you’d expect: darkness as a metaphor for loss, pain, and brokenness. But some are about rebirth, new potential, and transformation. They point to what spiritual practitioners call “soul-work”: facing up to our shadows—the dark parts of ourselves. The intention is not to get rid of the shadow—to turn darkness into light; it’s to turn darkness into growth. Silicon Valley, a powerhouse for new technology, has always been a surprising tangle of innovation and spirituality. Yet Silicon Valley is also a story of faith that admits no darkness, no shadow. The personal computer industry in Silicon Valley was not created just by improvements in engineering; it was also born of a potent Northern California mix of Christian individualism and Eastern metaphysics. This countercultural mix posits that when we experience the truest forms of ourselves, we discover a transcendent connection to all of reality, an oceanic
experience of self and world. Think iPhone. The secularized spirituality of Big Tech creates a buffer against any ability to contemplate its own evil potential. It’s a belief that technology will save us in a world without limits where the only constraints are the ones we place on ourselves. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone on January 9, 2007, it was as if a new god was born. At the time, no one consciously believed that smartphones, the internet of things, or ubiquitous computing would save us. Yet, as Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si points out, no one has to actually believe in technologies as gods; they become gods when we start investing our hope and identity in them. Think about holding your smartphone in your hand. It’s your device—an extension of who you are, and yet it’s also connected to everything—collective intelligence at your fingertips. It’s built on the idea that information knows no limits, that technology is the key to abundance, and that the
only constraint is failure of the imagination. It’s innovation without shadow. All progress, no failures or loss. We keep hoping technology will save us, but we need to stop bowing our heads to these strange new gods. Today, the limits of innovation without shadow—gene editing, environmental degradation, the erosion of privacy, weaponized misinformation—are on full display. What remains to be seen is where a little work on our shadow might yet take us.
For more on Bennett’s research, see “Silicon Valley’s Original Sin” via Sojourners at bit.ly/csrc-bennett & “Can innovation exist without soul work?” at bit.ly/csrc-bennett2 RESEARCH & PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP
UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWS PROGRAM: PREPARING OUR YOUTH FOR THE FUTURE “We cannot always build the
future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” These words, famously spoken by Franklin D. Roosevelt, capture the spirit that drives a longstanding Center initiative: the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program. Selected through a competitive application process, fellows participate in a special seminar with the Center’s director, work closely with ASU faculty on exciting research projects, meet with distinguished visiting speakers, and receive a $1,000 scholarship. “A central goal of this program is to prepare students for the complex world they are entering,” says John Carlson, Center interim director and leader of the weekly seminar. “By examining a broad range of issues—the legacies of the wars of religion in Europe, the history of religion and violence in America,
Gandhi and King’s pursuits of nonviolence, recent debates about Muslim headscarves, and civilian casualties in wars in Syria and Yemen—students develop critical, multi-dimensional perspectives that expand the horizons of their own interests, academic disciplines, and even their future professions.” Being selected as a fellow means joining a cohort of classmates from a diverse set of degree programs. For Alex Wakefield, an economics major, this was an important appeal of the program—one that made it “too good to pass up.” “I am excited to be interacting with the other fellows who seem to have the same questions and curiosities as I do,” says Wakefield. “In such a divisive time and at such a formative age, this program seems like the perfect way to navigate my own understandings of religion and attempt to make the world a better place. I am looking forward to finding some answers to difficult questions.”
Pursuing answers to such questions is something that fellows get experience with as they assist with faculty research. This hands-on atmosphere, combined with the opportunity to learn directly from their faculty mentor, gives fellows meaningful experiences that can influence their own academic and professional trajectories. “I am glad to be part of the fellow’s program because I think it is important to expose students like me to professional-level research, and to teach about topics that we may not be exposed to in our other classes,” says Emily Delvecchio, a political science major. “I wanted to join a team of professionals making a difference in the way religion is perceived in relation to conflict, and now I get to do that by working alongside an experienced faculty member.”
UNDERGRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN RELIGION AND CONFLICT This program allows students from
any major to gain a multidisciplinary understanding of the dynamics of religion, conflict, and peace. Earning a certificate offers an exciting way to“mainstream religion” across the curriculum, and is especially important for students in an age where knowledge of religion is increasingly vital to their vocations and professions. The program has graduated over 120 students since
its launch in 2009, including five students who earned certificates in 2018-2019: • Hamad Alajmi, Political Science • Kayla Barnes, Global Health • BrieAnna Frank, Journalism & Political Science • Carolina Marques de Mesquita, Political Science & English • Janna Tobin, History & Political Science
HAL DANESH Major: History & Jewish Studies Faculty Mentor: Souad T. Ali Project: “Approaches to Feminism in Islam”
EMILY DELVECCHIO Major: Political Science Faculty Mentor: Owen Anderson Project: “The First Amendment & Religious Liberty”
MORGAN KAUS Major: Religious Studies Faculty Mentor: Terry Shoemaker Project: “Internal Conflict Within Religious Shifts”
JOHN LONGO Major: Economics Faculty Mentor: Okechukwu Iheduru Project: “Claiming Region for God: Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity & Regional Social Citizenship in West Africa”
LIZBETH MENESES Major: Psychology Faculty Mentor: Volker Benkert Project: “Ordinary Germans & the Holocaust: A Psychohistorical Analysis of German Responsibility”
SUMAITA MULK Major: Biological Sciences & Political Science Faculty Mentor: John Carlson Project: “Justice, Religion, & the Moral Order of Politics”
DAIVA SCOVIL Major: Political Science & Economics Faculty Mentor: David Siroky Project: “After Secession: Matrioshka Nationalism in New States”
JOSEPHINE SHERWOOD Major: Global Studies Faculty Mentor: Terry Shoemaker Project: “Internal Conflict Within Religious Shifts”
RACHEL SONDGEROTH Major: Religious Studies & Global Studies Faculty Mentor: Uttaran Dutta Project: “Non-Mainstream Bhakti & Sufi Practices and Performances: Religious Conflicts and Socio-Cultural Equity in South Asia”
Major: Political Science & Religious Studies Faculty Mentor: Chouki El Hamel Project: “Citizenship, Freedom, and Gender in Morocco”
Major: Economics Faculty Mentor: Yasmin Saikia Project: “Hating Refugees: Immigration Policies, Public Fear, & the Crisis of Social Justice”
The Center’s Undergraduate Research Fellows program is made possible by the generous support of Friends of the Center Visit csrc.asu.edu for more information or to donate STUDENT PROGRAMS
2018 FRIENDS OF THE CENTER RESEARCH AWARDS Contributions from generous donors to the Center support student programs, including the
undergraduate fellows program and Friends of the Center research awards (up to $2,500) to pursue independent, innovative research on religion and conflict for thesis or dissertation projects. Students may also receive scholarships to participate in peacebuilding programs.
PEYMAN ASADZADEHMAMAGHANI Doctoral student in Politics & Global Studies Project Location: Iran Asadzadehmamaghani’s work explores patterns of participation in revolutionary activism. His project examines religious and leftist groups in Iran and their organizational recruitment patterns to understand what makes some groups more effective than others at eliciting participation.
JEENA JAMES Undergraduate majoring in Biological Sciences Project Location: Italy James traveled to Italy to study the migrant crisis, to research material for her honors thesis on the refugee experience in Italy and the United States, and to use the trip as a stepping stone for participating in future humanitarian aid opportunities.
Doctoral student in Justice Studies Project Location: Tempe, AZ
Doctoral student in Political Science Project Location: South Korea
Undergraduate majoring in Economics & Sociology Project Location: Czech Republic
Goldberg’s research looks at gender-based violence, with a focus on how healthy masculinities and consent-based relationships are tangible projects of peacebuilding. He also conducted an independent study on peacebuilding theories and programs of restorative, transformative, and transitional justice.
Jung’s project focuses on the motivations of Asian Protestant missionaries in their drive to convert Muslims in foreign countries. She extends existing research by conducting interviews with groups in Korea who send missionaries to Muslim communities.
Interested in peacebuilding and conflict management, Ashan traveled to Prague for a three-week program with the American Institute for Political and Economic Systems to enhance her understanding of international affairs, comparative politics and economics, and human rights issues.
KATHERINE PANOPOULOS Undergraduate majoring in Political Science Project Location: Ghana Panopoulos’s project focuses on the philosophical underpinnings of peacebuilding mechanisms. She traveled to Ghana to evaluate the Ghana Peace Council as a case study of a national peace and conflict-building institution.
Undergraduate majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication Project Location: Chicago, IL
Undergraduate majoring in History Project Locations: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia
Seeking to explore the role of media and public policy in promoting a more peaceable society, Rubio attended the University of Chicago’s Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program, where she learned how to create social change with a data-driven approach.
Stull’s research for her honor’s thesis focuses on how survivors’ memories of the Balkan Wars affect their perceptions of peace. Stull traveled to the Balkans to gain firsthand knowledge about how the war functions in survivors’ memories.
DONOR SUPPORT FUNDED MY HONORS THESIS RESEARCH IN JERUSALEM, BrieAnna Frank
BrieAnna Frank, a Barrett Honors student majoring in journalism and political science, was an undergraduate research fellow with the Center in 2017-18. In 2018, she traveled to Jerusalem with the support of a Friends of the Center student research award. She graduated in May 2019 and is now a reporter for The Arizona Republic.
Support from the Center allowed
me to conduct research for my honors thesis during my studies abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in fall 2018. My thesis explored support among evangelical Christians for the modern State of Israel and considers Christian groups in the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. My
preliminary research suggested that support for Israel varied widely among the three populations.
geographic, political, religious, and historic conflicts Israel faces are unprecedented and that, given the country’s unique position, Israel has been fair toward the Palestinians.
My research in the U.S., including interviews with several evangelical leaders, showed that they were much more fervent in their support for Israel than the other two groups. In Jerusalem, I was able to interview evangelicals from organizations such as the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem and the Christian Broadcasting Network. These Christians were also fervent supporters of the modern State of Israel, implying that it is a Christian duty to support Israel because of its prophesied role in the days leading up to the second coming of Jesus.
Palestinian Christians, though, adamantly disagreed. They stated that Israel continues to commit human rights violations, and that the notion that supporting Israel is Christian duty is laughable. They stated that Christian teachings implore followers to fight for oppressed groups, which would be Palestinian Christians in this conflict. This group largely believed that Israel is no longer special to God, and that the promises set out in the Old Testament to the Land of Israel were conditional agreements that were broken when the ancient Israelites strayed from God’s commandments. Therefore, they do not believe modern Christians should have any allegiance to Israel on religious grounds, and that they should concern themselves with upholding Christian values all around the world—which they believe would oblige them to fight for the rights of Palestinians.
My research also looked into attitudes among Christians in these three areas regarding claims of human rights violations by Israel against Palestinians. Evangelicals in Jerusalem largely dismissed such accusations, believing that most of these accusations were coming from ignorant people who were not familiar with the complexities of the conflict on the ground. They stated that they believe the
Needless to say, my research has been fascinating. I’ve talked to people on both sides of the conflict who are passionate about their faith and their identity and who have eloquently discussed what role their faith plays in their thinking about Israel and its role in the modern world.
FRIENDS OF THE CENTER Gifts from Friends of the Center directly support our research, public programs, and education initiatives. Your contributions fund student fellowship programs; advance cutting-edge research; bring innovative thinkers, writers, and practitioners to campus; and help build a network for research and dissemination that includes students, faculty, civic leaders, professionals, practitioners, and policy experts. The Center thanks the many Friends who contributed to our sustained our work during the 2018-19 academic year. Lifetime Friends: Ann Hardt Stan and Tochia Levine Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Richard and Elaine Morrison Doug and Becky Pruitt John Roberts John and Betty Whiteman Platinum (up to $25,000): Penny Davis Judith and John Ellerman Jerry Hirsch Tom and Ruth Ann Hornaday Cynthia Jewett Rich and Sally Lehmann Gold (up to $2,500): Anonymous Greg Altschuh and Janis Lipman Fariba and Bijan Ansari Margaret Gooch Jeffrey and Anne Gray Barbara and Thomas Leard Kevin and Yolanda McAuliffe Joette Schmidt
Maroon (up to $1,000): Susan and William Ahearn William and Dorothea Barnicoat Peter Buseck Linell Cady John Carlson Mary Kathleen Collins Robert DiCenso Carolyn Forbes Morton Scult Silver (up to $250) Anonymous (3) Julius Altman Sarah E. Auffret Michael Austill Patricia Bauer Charles and Rebecca Berry Linda Brock Vicki and Howard Cabot Matt Correa Robert and Fran Culligan Robert and Rosemary Fitzsimmons John “Mike” Franklin Gwyn Goebel Prem and Jiwan Goyal Gisela Grant
Gary Hammond Abbey Rose Hawthorne Jeffrey Heimer Doris Horn Mark Hyman Sol Jaffe Sarah Lords Irving and Joan Lowell Anne Mardick Sandra McKenzie Roy and Mary Miller Ingrid O’Grady Laurie Perko Pawan Rehill Aleda Richter-West Roger S. Robinson Alan Sandler Cayetano Santiago Cliff and Patricia Schutjer Mary and Steve Serlin Stephen Shobin Terry Shoemaker Chester D. Shupe James and Olga Strickland Carolyn Warner Sandra Whitley
SUPPORT THE CENTER • To make a donation online, go to asufoundation.org/religionandconflict • To make a major gift, contact: Alan Sandler, Assistant Director of Humanities Development T: (480) 727-0742 E: Alan.Sandler@asu.edu
• To make a donation by mail, checks may be made payable to the ASU Foundation/CSRC and sent to: Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict Arizona State University PO Box 870802 Tempe, AZ 85287-0802
All funds will be deposited with the ASU Foundation for a New American University, a separate nonprofit organization that exists to support ASU. The full amount of your contribution may be considered a charitable contribution. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of charitable contributions. Annual contributions may be acknowledged in Center publications, including our annual report, newsletters, or on our website. If you do not want your name published, please notify our office.
IN MEMORIAM: HONORING JOHN WHITEMAN’S LEGACY Few people
have contributed to elevating the Center’s impact more than John Whiteman, who passed away in May 2019. We honor his generosity and philanthropic vision and are deeply grateful for his support and the work it allowed us to advance.
John’s belief in our work had a reach that extended into the core of our mission: he served as an incredible advisor and friend to the Center’s directors over the years. His insights, encouragement, and wisdom helped shape our vision and fueled our success. Our hearts are heavy with his passing and the void that he left behind. John was a man of enormous integrity and passion, and while we will miss him, we remain assured that his impact lives on in the work we do.
John believed deeply in the value of stimulating public reflection and, perhaps most importantly, inspiring individuals. John was passionate about education—from early childhood to lifelong learning. An alumnus of Arizona State University, he was also committed to research excellence and to making that research available and accessible to the public. John’s longstanding support for the “Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions” lecture series enabled the Center to bring in more than twenty-five speakers to campus over eight years and touch over 20,000 lives. John was a true partner in this endeavor, collaborating with us to feature speakers with diverse viewpoints and deep knowledge. Alternative Visions speakers helped us better understand the dynamics of conflict, offer strategies for resolution, and provide a message of hope.
A prominent supporter of public events, Whiteman funded the Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions lecture series. Here he attends the 2016 lecture featuring Michael Ignatieff, entitled “What Citizens Owe Strangers: Human Rights, Migrants and Refugees.” Portrait by Ivan Martinez COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict PO Box 870802 | Tempe, AZ 85287-0802 480.965.7187 | 480.965.9611 (fax) email@example.com | csrc.asu.edu