The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion is offering five to ten summer research grants in the amount of $5000 each for advanced graduate students working on topics in the study of religion, broadly construed. Applications are welcome from all UC Berkeley Ph.D. students who have advanced to candidacy, with preference given to those who are close to completion of their dissertations. Grants are awarded for summer research travel and related expenses only.

To apply, please submit:

• A cover letter explaining your research plan, budget, extant summer funding (whether departmental or otherwise), as well as other sources of funding for which you have applied.
• A description of your dissertation project. This can be in the form of a grant proposal or an abbreviated dissertation prospectus, but it should not exceed 1500 words.
• A current CV, with your committee members listed.
• A letter of recommendation from your committee chair or major advisor.

Completed applications (including all supporting materials) should be submitted to BCSR directors c/o bcsrgradstudentgrant@berkeley.edu and received by Monday, March 2 at 4 pm. Electronic files are preferred. Please send as a single PDF. Applicants can expect to hear from BCSR by the end of the Spring 2015 semester.

Due Dates:
Deadline for applications: March 2, 2015 by 4 pm
Award Announced: Week of March 30
Award Period: Summer 2015
Award Amount: $5,000 for summer research travel and related expenses

Past Recipients:
Lauren Bausch (South and Southeast Asian Studies), Erik Born (German), Graham Hill (Sociology), Nicholas Junkerman (English), Jean-Michel Landry (Anthropology), Christopher Mead (English), Samuel Robinson (History), Tehila Sasson (History), Kris Trujillo (Rhetoric)

Support for the BCSR Graduate Student Summer Research Grants was provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award granted to Professor Thomas Laqueur and the Frank and Leslie Yeary Endowment for Ethics in the Humanities.

Sara McClintock, Associate Professor of Tibetan and Indian Buddhism, Emory University

The premise of this talk is that knowledge is not something that we can discover but rather only something that we can produce. As such, each new instance of knowledge emerges transactionally through the interaction of configurations of materiality, discourse, and ideology—realities that are themselves the product of complex transactions. Drawing on theories from the Indian Buddhist epistemological tradition, this talk argues à la Foucault for the need to attend to structures of power in relation to knowledge so that we may recognize the nature of the regimes of truth in which we participate. The point is not to escape the regimes of truth but to better understand them so as to make them and ourselves more pliable. As truth is recognized to be itself a product and a transactional reality, the problem of finding a foundation for rationality is replaced by the problem of recognizing our responsibility for shaping the transactional fields in which knowledge is produced. The talk will end with a consideration of the implications of this recognition for the modern scientific study of Buddhist meditation and other contemplative practices.

Sara McClintock is Associate Professor of Religion at Emory University, where she teaches courses in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism and interpretation theory in the study of religion. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Bryn Mawr College (1983), her master’s degree in world religions from Harvard Divinity School (1989), and her doctorate in religion from Harvard University (2002). Her interests include narrative, philosophy, and contemplative practices, with particular focus on issues of rationality, rhetoric, reading, embodiment, emptiness, and ethics. She is author of Omniscience and the Rhetoric of Reason: Santaraksita and Kamalasila on Rationality, Argumentation, and Religious Authority (2010) and co-editor with Georges Dreyfus of The Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make? (2003). Recent writings include “Compassionate Trickster: The Buddha as a Literary Character in the Narratives of Early Indian Buddhism” (2011) and an article on the status of phenomenal content (akara) in cognition in Kamalasila’s Tattvasamgrahapanjika (2013). She is co-translator with John Dunne of Nagarjuna’s Ratnavali.

Co-presented by the Center for Buddhist Studies.

Wallace Best, Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Princeton University

In March 1953, Senator Joseph McCarthy called the poet Langston Hughes before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Formed in 1948, the PSI was initially charged with investigating allegations of corruption in the national defense program. When McCarthy assumed the chairmanship, however, he redirected the focus, turning it into a tribunal to expose Communist subversives among federal employees, as well as the general public. Hughes’s summons offered no explanation, but within the first few moments of his interrogation it was clear that “Goodbye, Christ,” a poem he had written in 1932 while sojourning in the Soviet Union, sat at the center of the committee’s interest. The poem allegedly extolled Communism while denigrating the American way of life. Concerning “Goodbye, Christ” tells the story of Hughes’s poem and the sustained impact it had on his life. It also highlights the potential efficacy and the probable peril “political poetry” could have on an African American poet’s career during the middle decades of the twentieth century. As Hughes himself would proclaim in 1964, “politics can be the graveyard of the poet, and only poetry can be his resurrection.”

Wallace Best specializes in 19th and 20th century African American religious history. His research and teaching focus on the areas of African American religion, religion and literature, Global Pentecostalism, gender and sexuality, and Womanist theology. He has held fellowships at Princeton’s Center for the Study of Religion and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. He is the author of Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915-1952 (Princeton University Press, 2005), and his current book project is Langston’s Salvation: American Religion and the Bard of Harlem.