Nine UC Berkeley Graduate Students Awarded 2014 Graduate Student Summer Research Grants in Religion


The Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR), an academic center for independent and innovative research in religion, announces the nine recipients of the 2014-15 Graduate Student Summer Research Grants. These projects address a broad range of issues and topics in religion including relationships of religion to media and politics, under-seen global or early religious communities, and religious doctrine and law. Thirty promising proposals were received from an open call to UC Berkeley graduate students. Over $40,000 in awards were distributed.

“Berkeley has some of the most creative minds in the world at work in the study of religion and ethics. The projects submitted for consideration for our summer research grant were absolutely stellar, and testify to the broad range of creative work in religion and ethics ongoing on the campus. Grant recipients will be at work on a huge variety of topics, bringing their own disciplinary strengths to bear on subjects of urgent importance, past and present. The center is proud to sponsor such excellence and rigor.” – BCSR Co-Directors Mark Csikszentmihalyi and Jonathan Sheehan

The following nine research projects were awarded grants:

Lauren Bausch (South and Southeast Asian Studies)
Bausch’s dissertation articulates Kosalan philosophy according to two texts, the late Vedic Kānvīya Śatapatha Brāhmana and the early Buddhist Suttanipāta. Drawing on their historical context, she presents a regional philosophy that sheds light on the religious development of ancient India. This summer she will travel to India and Europe to present her dissertation research to scholars and archaeologists in the field for their critical feedback. In addition, Bausch will photograph the Agnihotra ritual and present her work at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Erik Born (German)
Despite widespread contemporary interest in mobile media, pervasive computing, and social networks, our current view of wireless technology still tends to ignore the earlier cultural debates that informed our current situation. In Born’s dissertation, “The Cultural Origins of Wireless Connectivity: Technologies of Transmission and Reception in Central Europe, 1880–1930,” he argues that the early discourse of broadcast media was part and parcel of debates about the conception of the divine and the construction of a secular public sphere. This summer, he will conduct archival research at the Deutsches Technikmuseum and the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv, analyzing new possibilities for communication and community offered by wireless technology, from Walter Rathenau’s “Die Resurrection Co.” (1898) to Pere Lhande’s reflections on “Die Radio-Predigt” (1929).

Graham Hill (Sociology)
Hill’s dissertation offers an ethnographic account of a charismatic Christian businessmen’s organization in Mexico City, called La Fraternidad Internacional de los Hombres de Negocios del Evangelio Completo (FIHNEC). It describes the relationship between members’ attention to this-worldly supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit and their attempts to forge an ethic of self-discipline. In the summer of 2014 he will return to Mexico City to further investigate the following question: In the pursuit of evidence of the supernatural in the details of everyday life, how do members of FIHNEC respond to potentially disconfirming evidence? (Yeary Endowment)

Nicholas Junkerman (English)
Junkerman’s research focuses on writings about miracle by 18th-century American Protestants. He will travel to England this summer to conduct research at the British Library and the Methodist Archives and Research Center at the University of Manchester. This research will allow him to complete the final chapter of his dissertation, which examines the celebrated preacher George Whitefield’s interpretation of scriptural miracles in the context of deist skepticism and evangelical piety.

Jean-Michel Landry (Anthropology)
Combining ethnographic and archival research, Landry’s dissertation inquires into the exercise of Shi‘a Islamic law inside and outside the apparatuses of the Lebanese state. Based on 17 months of intensive fieldwork in Lebanon, it represents an attempt to bring into sharp relief the distinctive political, epistemological, and ethical conditions under which Shi‘a Islamic law is practiced under the aegis of a postcolonial nation-state. This summer, he will travel to Lebanon in order to investigate specific law-cases in the archives of Beirut’s Shi‘a family-law tribunal and pursue his research in an Islamic legal school.

Christopher Mead (English)
Mead will travel to England this summer to undertake research for the introductory chapter of his dissertation, “Mass Communication: Old Religion and New Technology in Early Modern England.” He will visit the British, Bodleian, and Cambridge University libraries, where he will conduct research on the cruciform poetry of Venantius Fortunatus and the Charters of Christ, along with other material expressions of medieval eucharistic culture.

Samuel Robinson (History)
Robinson’s dissertation, “Flesh be Made Spirit: Radical Religion, Materialism, and the Theology of the Holy Spirit in Early Modern England,” examines problems of religious materialism, asking how the triadic relationship between mind, body, and spirit changed during the late 17th century. Working from the ideological upheaval of the English Revolution, Robinson’s work asks how religious ideas influenced understandings of corporeality and materiality in England. His summer research will include the study of alchemical texts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and the examination of several assize court depositions at the UK National Archives in London.

Tehila Sasson (History)
Sasson’s dissertation, entitled “From Empire to Humanity: Technologies of Famine Relief in an Era of Decolonization,” examines the emergence of humanitarian ethics for famine relief in Imperial Britain, paying particular attention to the role of religious organizations and ideas in shaping its culture and politics. It demonstrates how humanitarian morality developed out of a series of practices connected to global and imperial governance rather than a product of individual sentiments. She will spend the summer in the United Kingdom conducting research on the various archives of missionary and religious organizations in order to complete the third chapter of her dissertation. (Yeary Endowment)

Kris Trujillo (Rhetoric)
In his dissertation entitled “Jubilee of the Heart: Song, Sense, and the Poetic Construction of Mystical Experience,” Trujillo examines the aesthetic and ethical significance of music to the production of Christian mystical texts. His project reads the Song of Songs commentary tradition together with the monastic performance of Psalter recitation in order to explore the material and embodied effects of music—both in practice and as trope. This summer, Trujillo will explore monasteries and béguinages in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, and France and observe, through active participation, the Divine Office at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Cîteaux. (Yeary Endowment)

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.