World-class faculty from across  the disciplines

Directors

Mark Csikszentmihalyi

Mark Csikszentmihalyi writes on pre-modern Chinese thought, and is author of Material Virtue: Ethics and the Body in Early China and Readings in Han Chinese Thought. He began his career in the Department of Religion at Davidson College, and is editor of the Journal of Chinese Religions, former Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and was a contributing Editor for the Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition. At Berkeley, he teaches Confucianism and Daoism in the context of early Chinese society, chairs the department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and co-founded the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion. On leave 2015-16.
East Asian Languages and Cultures

Jonathan Sheehan

Jonathan Sheehan is an historian of early modern European religion, science, scholarship, and philosophy.  He is the author of The Enlightenment Bible: Translation, Scholarship, Culture (Princeton, 2005), and, with Dror Wahrman, of Invisible Hands: Self-Organization in the Eighteenth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2015). His articles on secularism, Enlightenment, and early modern religious culture have appeared in Past & Present, the American Historical Review, the Journal for the History of Ideas, and Representations. On leave 2015-16.
History

ADVISORY BOARD

Karen Barkey
Sociology

Charles Hirschkind
Anthropology

Niklaus Largier
German

David Marno

A native of Hungary, David Marno received his PhD in Comparative Literature at Stanford in 2011, and since then he’s been in the English Department at UC Berkeley where he teaches English Renaissance poetry and drama. His research focuses on the intersections of literature and religious practice. He’s currently completing his first book about John Donne’s devotional poetry and the idea of a “holy attention.”
English

STAFF

Breana George

Breana George is a Program Coordinator for UC Berkeley’s Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research, an interdisciplinary research management unit supporting the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion and The Program in Critical Theory.
Program Coordinator

Sam Mountain

Sam Mountain is a student assistant for the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion and The Program in Critical Theory. He is a first-year student at the University, and intends to double major in Political Science and Statistics.
Student Assistant, Communications

Jordan Mursinna

Jordan Mursinna is the Office Coordinator for the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR), the UC Berkeley program and research development unit supporting the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR), The Program in Critical Theory, and The Digital Humanities Initiative. He received his B.A. in History from The University of California, Berkeley in 2015.
Office Coordinator

Khai Thu Nguyen

Khai Thu Nguyen is the Associate Director of The Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR). She has directed language and student affairs programs at UC Berkeley Extension, coordinated faculty teaching support at Center for Teaching and Learning, and served as a lecturer. Her multi-national theater productions and research have been funded by Fulbright-Hays, UC Pacific Rim, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy. Her writings appear in Neoliberalism and Global Theatres, Portrayals of Americans on the World Stage, and Asian Theatre Journal. Khai holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from UC Berkeley.
Associate Director

Brandon Schneider

Brandon Schneider is the Events and Student Affairs Coordinator for the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research, supporting the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion and The Program in Critical Theory.
Event and Student Affairs Coordinator

Leitha Thrall

Leitha Thrall is an Interim Program Coordinator for the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research, the UC Berkeley management unit supporting The Program in Critical Theory and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion.
Interim Program Coordinator

Beverly Yan

Beverly Yan is a student assistant for the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion and The Program in Critical Theory.
Student Assistant, Communications

Affiliated Faculty

Asad Q. Ahmed

Asad Q. Ahmed is associate professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Dept. of Near Eastern Studies. He specializes in pre-modern Islamic social and intellectual history.
Near Eastern Studies

Robert Alter

Robert Alter is currently Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature. He has done extensive work on literary aspects of the Hebrew Bible and has translated, with a commentary, about two-thirds of the Hebrew Bible. Alter has research and teaching interests in modern Hebrew literature and in the European and American novel.
Hebrew and Comparative Literature (Emeritus)

Kenneth A. Bamberger

Kenneth A. Bamberger is professor of law; co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. At Berkeley, Bamberger teaches Administrative Law, the First Amendment (Speech and Religion), Technology and Governance, and Jewish Law. He researches the ways that governments, private actors, and technology combine to “regulate” behavior, and ways to safeguard the exercise of that governance power. He publishes widely on government regulation and decision-making, as well as corporate compliance, with a particular focus on the regulation of technology and on Information Privacy.
Law

Mary Elizabeth Berry

Mary Elizabeth Berry is a specialist on premodern Japanese history. Her teaching includes attention to Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Her current research on consumption in the seventeenth century explores the contemporary religious discourse in these traditions concerning wealth, poverty, and charity.
History

Benjamin Brinner

Ben Brinner, Faculty Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, is a professor in the Department of Music. Musical aspects of Muslim and Jewish religious beliefs and practices are central to his courses on music in the Middle East. He has conducted research in Indonesia and Israel since the 1980s. In addition to Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters, he has written two books on Javanese gamelan music and is currently finishing a third, dealing with expert memory for music.
Music

Daniel Boyarin
Near Eastern Studies

Lara Buchak

Lara Buchak is an associate professor of philosophy. Her primary interests are in decision and game theory, particularly in how an individual ought to take risk into account when making decisions; in philosophy of religion, particularly on the nature and rationality of faith; and in epistemology, particularly on the conditions under which one ought to stop looking for more evidence and make a commitment.
Philosophy

Carolyn Chen
Ethnic Studies

John Connelly

Professor Connelly’s specialty is in twentieth century East Central Europe. His research interests include history of nationalism, socialism in the region, particularly intersections with ideology, including religious ideologies.
History

Jacob Dalton

Jacob Dalton is Associate Professor and Khyentse Chair in Tibetan Buddhism and works on Nyingma religious history, tantric ritual, early Tibetan paleography, and the Dunhuang manuscripts. He is the author of The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism (Yale University Press, 2011).
East Asian Languages and Culture

John Efron

John Efron is the Koret Professor of Jewish History in the Department of History and specializes in the cultural and social history of German Jewry. His work has focused on the German-Jewish engagement with medicine, anthropology, and antisemitism and he has written on subjects such as Jewish burial, circumcision, and dietary practices.  His book Sephardic Beauty and the Ashkenazic Imagination: German Jewry in the Age of Emancipation,  (2015) presents a study of modern German Jewry’s attraction to the aesthetics of medieval Sephardic Jewry.
History

Susanna Elm

Susanna Elm is Professor of History and Classics, with a specialization in the social and cultural history of the later Roman empire. Her current interests focus on the relation between slavery and theology, especially in the work of Augustine of Hippo. Her works include Virgins of God: the Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity, and  Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome.
History

Victoria Frede

Victoria Frede, History Department, Russian intellectual history of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Research interests include the transferal of French and German philosophical ideas to Russia; atheism and heterodox religious thought in Russia; Orthodoxy; friendship in intellectual circles, behavioral norms, and political loyalties among the elites.
History

Beate Fricke

Beate Fricke teaches European Medieval Art. Her research focuses on the history of images and their veneration, relics, reliquaries and manuscripts, using perspectives from cultural anthropology, history of the natural philosophy and theology. Her first book, Ecce fides. Die Statue von Conques, Götzendienst und Bildkultur im Westen (Fink, 2007), is going to be published under the title Fallen Idols, Risen saints: Sainte Foy of Conques and the Revival of Monumental Sculpture in Medieval Art in the series “Studies in the Visual Cultures of the Middle Ages” (Brepols, 2014). She is currently working on her second book, Beautiful Genesis: Creation, Procreation and Mimesis, which investigates how the emergence of life is reflected in painting, as well as in late medieval writings.
History of Art

Erich Gruen

Erich Gruen, emeritus from three departments: History, Classics, and Jewish Studies, with special interests in ancient ethnicity, Hellenistic Judaism, and cultural interconnections in the ancient Mediterranean.
History, Classics, and Jewish Studies

William Hanks

William Hanks is a linguistic anthropologist who works on the history of Catholic missions among Maya people of colonial Yucatan Mexico, the relation between religious conversion and translation, and modern Maya shamanism.
Anthropology

Ron Hassner

Ron Hassner is an associate professor of political science and co-director (with Steven Fish) of the Religion, Politics, and Globalization Program. His interests are international conflict, sacred space, religion in the military and religion in 20th-century contemporary warfare.
Political Science

David A. Hollinger

David A. Hollinger, Professor Emeritus of History, studies the intellectual, religious, and ethnoracial histories of the United States. His current work is focused on Protestant liberalism in the 20th century, especially in relation to foreign missions.
History

Steven Justice

Steven Justice is Professor of English at UC Berkeley and at the University of Mississippi. He works on a long stretch of writing in Christian latinity from late antiquity to the later middle ages.
English

Victoria Kahn

Victoria Kahn is Hotchkis Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature. She works on the literature and political theory of the early modern period, with a longstanding interest in political theology.
English, Comparative Literature

Abhishek Kaicker
History

Diliana Angelova

Professor Angelova’s main research focus is Early Christian and Byzantine art. Her scholarship concerns the intersection of two basic issues: continuity and change in the realm of ideas, and the role of women in ancient societies.
History, Art History

Duncan MacRae

Professor MacRae studies the religious and intellectual history of the Roman Republic and Early Empire.
Classics

Henrike Christiane Lange

Henrike Christiane Lange is an historian of art and literature. Professor Lange’s interests focus on the visual and textual arts and languages in the Renaissance and on the historiography of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Classics

Stanley A. Klein
Vision Science

Jeffrey Knapp

Jeffrey Knapp is the Ida Mae and William J. Eggers, Jr. Chair in English at Berkeley. His primary fields of study are Renaissance English literature and Twentieth-Century American Film. Religion has been a central topic in nearly every one of Knapp’s publications, including Shakespeare’s Tribe: Church, Nation, and Theater in Renaissance England (University of Chicago Press, 2002), and “‘Sacred Songs, Popular Prices’: Secularization in The Jazz Singer” (Criticial Inquiry, 2008).
English

Thomas Laqueur

Thomas Laqueur has written about working class religion and cultural change during the English industrial revolution and about spiritualism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His forthcoming book on the work of the dead engages both local questions about churches and the care of the dead and the anthropology of religion in deep time.
History

Margaret Larkin

Professor Larkin’s work is focused on Arabic literature, and in particular a subset of it that deals with the stylistic inimitability of the Qur’an (i’jaz al-Qur’an). Her first book (The Theology of Meaning:  ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani’s Theory of Discourse) was on a major theorist in this field, ‘Abd al-Qahir al-Jurjani (d. 1078 or 1082), and she has taught seminars on i’jaz al-Qur’an a number of times. Larkin has also taught Introduction to Islam as the introductory course in the Religious Studies program here at Berkeley.
Near Eastern Studies

Rita Lucarelli

Rita Lucarelli is Assistant Curator of Egyptology at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology of the University of California, Berkeley and Fellow of the Digital Humanities in Berkeley. She is presently completing a monograph on demonology in ancient Egypt and she is one of the coordinators of the Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project. Her research interests include religion, magic and science in ancient Egypt and in Antiquity, ancient Egyptian funerary literature, demonology in ancient Egypt and Antiquity, Digital Humanities and Egyptology.
Near Eastern Studies

Sara Magrin

Sara Magrin is an assistant professor in the department of Classics. She works on ancient philosophy, and particularly on Hellenistic and post-Hellenistic philosophy. Her primary interests lie at the intersection of epistemology and moral psychology. Her current research focuses on Plotinus’ account of human motivation and, more broadly, on ancient analyses of the distinction between rational and non-rational forms of cognition and desire.
Classics

Saba Mahmood
Anthropology

Angela Marino
Theater, Performance Studies, Latin/o American Studies

Christopher Ocker
History

Manuel Duarte de Oliveira

Manuel Oliveira is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Near Eastern Studies of UC Berkeley. Before coming to the US, he co-founded the Institute for Human Studies and Intelligent Sciences. He has served in the European Commission as Expert in the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes and in the current Horizon 2020 in Economics and Human Sciences, and as Member of the Ethics Panel in Science, Economy and Society. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, at the Columbia University School of Law, and a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of World Religions, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Kennedy School of Government. He works in the fields of Modern Jewish Thought, the Abrahamic Religions, and the complex relations between Judaism and Christianity.
Near Eastern Studies

Stefania Pandolfo
Anthropology

Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson is a professor of history who works on colonial British America and the Atlantic world. Most of his work is centered on the making of New England’s political economy and culture, and therefore attends closely to the puritan movement and its evolution in American settings. He is also interested in the relationship between religion and material culture.
History

Christine Philliou
History

Joanna Picciotto
English

Diego Pirillo

Diego Pirillo (Ph.D., Scuola Normale Superiore) is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and affiliated faculty in the Center for the Study of Religion, in the Institute of European Studies, in the Program in Critical Theory, as well as in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies. He has been a fellow at several institutions, including Villa I Tatti (the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), The UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies, The John Carter Brown Library, the Newberry Library, The Rare Book School at UVA. He specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe, with an emphasis on Italy and England. His research interests include the history of religion, the history of information and communication, the intellectual history of modern and contemporary Italy with particular attention to philosophy of religion and political philosophy.
Along with several articles and book chapters, he is the author of Filosofia ed eresia nell’Inghilterra del tardo Cinquecento: Bruno, Sidney e i dissidenti religiosi italiani (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2010) and (with O. Catanorchi) of Favole, metafore, storie. Seminario su Giordano Bruno (Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2007). His new book The Diplomacy of Refugees: Venice, England and the Reformation (forthcoming with Cornell University Press) is the first systematic study dedicated to the role played by religious refugees in early modern international relations. Using a broad range of sources (archival records, diplomatic and mercantile letters, visual material, literary texts and marginalia) The Diplomacy of Refugees brings to light the many diplomatic functions performed by religious refugees (as intelligencers, go-betweens, cultural brokers, negotiators and representatives) and recovers the complexity of early modern diplomacy in an age in which states did not have a full monopoly on international relations. Among his most recent articles are ‘Espionage and Theology in the Anglo-Venetian Renaissance’ in Mediterranean Studies (in press) and ‘Renaissance Peace Movements’, in A Cultural History of Peace (Bloomsbury Publishing, in press).
Italian Studies

Alexander von Rospatt
South and Southeast Asian Studies

Ethan Shagan
History

Robert Sharf
East Asian Languages and Cultures

Francesco Spagnolo

Francesco Spagnolo, a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music and digital media, is the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and a Lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a host for the cultural programs of Italian National Radio (RAI) in Rome. His research interests include the study of liturgy (texts, sounds, music, architecture, material culture, body language) and synagogue life in the global Jewish Diaspora, with a particular focus on Italy and the Mediterranean since the early-modern period; the emergence of Jewish musical revival movements in Europe since the 19th century; and music in Israel.
Music

Yuri Slezkine

Yuri Slezkine works in Russian history, with an interest in Soviet millenarianism.
History

Ann Swidler

Professor Swidler works in Sociology of Culture, Sociology of Religion, Political Sociology, and Global and Transnational Sociology. Her research has focused on American religion (co-author, Habits of the Heart) and on competing forms of the sacred in congregational religion, chieftaincy, and international human rights organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sociology

Ivonne del Valle
Spanish and Portuguese

Niek Veldhuis

Niek Veldhuis, Professor of Assyriology, Department of Near Eastern Studies. Director of the Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Texts (http://oracc.org/dcclt). Main research interests: literature, scholarship and religions of ancient Mesopotamia.
Near Eastern Studies