BCSR Welcomes Visiting Scholar Anna Hennessey

Brandon Schneider

Anna Hennessey joins BCSR as a Visiting Scholar through September 2020.

Anna Hennessey is a San Francisco author and scholar whose work explores the religious, artistic, and philosophical dimensions of birth. Her recent book, Imagery, Ritual, and Birth: Ontology Between the Sacred and the Secular (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) explores ways in which religious imagery is secularized and re-sacralized during the contemporary rituals of birth. Anna’s work is highly interdisciplinary; she has a PhD in the History of Chinese Religions from UC Santa Barbara, an MA in Art History from UC Santa Barbara, and a BA with a double major in Philosophy and Romance Language from New York University.

She is currently working on three projects. The first is a book project that considers a wide range of artworks used within various birth communities to visualize the process of birth as both a physiological and sacred event. The second is a community project in San Francisco developed over the past two years and devoted to the creation of a Birth Circle for low-income women, and especially low-income women of color who live in public housing. As part of the project, Anna is collecting birth stories and creating a web archive of these histories. The third, also a book project, takes a broad look at how art about birth and genesis interact or influence cultural or national identities. She is especially interested in this topic as it relates to Catalan art and representations of rebirth in the wake of cultural turmoil.

Anna is the current Vice President and Program Chair of the American Academy of Religion, Western Region, an editor for the Chinese Historical Society of America’s History and Perspectives Journal, and Founder of visualizingbirth.org, a blog devoted to birth, art, and visualization. She has taught within the University of California and California State University systems.