World-class faculty from across the disciplines


Karen Barkey

Karen Barkey is faculty in Sociology with expertise in Comparative Historical Sociology, Political Sociology and Religion. Her main area of interest at this stage is in issues of coexistence and diversity in imperial settings as models for contemporary discussions. Her main project is on Shared Sacred Sites.

David Marno

David Marno’s work concentrates on the intersection between literature and religious practice, in particular on the relationship between prayer, meditation, spiritual exercises and poetry. He has published on religious and secular concepts of attention, on apocalypse as a literary and political figure, and on philosophy of history and comparative literature. His first book, Death Be Not Proud: The Art of Holy Attention (Chicago, 2016), reads John Donne’s Holy Sonnets as a site where the bonds between premodern devotional, literary, and philosophical investments in attentiveness become visible. The question of when and why prayer requires attentiveness has led to Marno’s current project, which focuses on prayer in the aftermath of the Reformation.

Advisory Board

Robert Braun

Robert Braun combines archival work with geographical information systems to study civil society and intergroup relationships in times of social upheaval. He has recently finished a book, Protectors of Pluralism: the Collective Rescue of Jews during the Holocaust, on the protection of Jews during the Holocaust in the Low Countries (forthcoming at Cambridge University Press). His new research project studies the political causes and consequences of anti-Semitism by exploring racial themes in German children’s stories. In the past he has worked on the geographical spread of different types of political violence such as terrorism, anti-immigrant attacks, and soccer hooliganism.

Charles Hirschkind

Charles Hirschkind is faculty in the department of Anthropology. His research interests concern religious practice, media technologies, and emergent forms of political community in the Middle East, North America, and Europe. He gives particular attention to diverse configurations of the human sensorium, and the histories, ethics, and politics they make possible. His latest book, The Feeling of History: Islam, Romanticism, and Andalusia, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in late 2020.

Niklaus Largier

Niklaus Largier is the Sidney and Margaret Ancker Professor of German and Comparative Literature. He is affiliated with UC Berkeley’s Programs in Medieval Studies and Religious Studies, the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, and the Berkeley Center for New Media. Largier is currently working on two projects: a book on imagination, practices of figuration, aesthetic experience, and notions of possibility, tentatively entitled “Figures of Possibility;” and a book on the history of practices and the poetics of prayer (with David Marno).
German and Comparative Literature

Stefania Pandolfo

Stefania Pandolfo studies theories and forms of subjectivity, and their contemporary predicaments in the Middle Eastern and Muslim world, investigating narrative, trauma, psychoanalysis and the unconscious, memory, historicity and the hermeneutics of disjuncture, language and poetics, experimental ethnographic writing, anthropology and literature, dreaming and the anthropological study of the imagination, intercultural approaches to different ontologies and systems of knowledge, modernity, colonialism and postcolonialism, madness and mental illness. Her current project is a study of emergent forms of subjectivity in Moroccan modernity at the interface of “traditional therapies” and psychiatry/psychoanalysis, exploring theoretical ways to think existence, possibility and creation in a context of referential and institutional instability and in the aftermath of trauma, based on ethnographic research on spirit possession and the “cures of the jinn”, and on the experience of madness in a psychiatric hospital setting.

Joanna Picciotto

Joanna Picciotto is Associate Professor with the English Department at Berkeley. She is the author of Labors of Innocence in Early Modern England (2010) and editor of “Devotion and Intellectual Labor,” a special issue of The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 44.1 (2014).

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.

Ronit Y. Stahl

Ronit Y. Stahl is a historian of modern America. Her work focuses on pluralism in American society by examining how politics, law, and religion interact in spaces such as the military and medicine. Her book, Enlisting Faith: How the Military Chaplaincy Shaped Religion and State in Modern America (Harvard University Press, 2017), traces the uneven processes through which the military struggled with, encouraged, and regulated religious pluralism in the twentieth century. Her current research examines the rise of institutional and corporate rights of consience in health care. This project weaves together the court decisions, legislation, medical and bioethical arguments, religious ideas, and lived experiences that shaped the disparate trajectories of reproductive healthcare, LGBT healthcare, and end-of-life care from the 1970s to the present.


Patty Dunlap

Patty Dunlap is the Program and Grants Coordinator for the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research. She previously served in Corporate and Foundation Relations on campus, and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for nearly two decades prior. Patty graduated from UC Irvine with a BA and MBA in Psychology, and now lives with her husband, dog, and four children.
Program and Grants Coordinator

Grace Mosher

Grace Mosher is a junior majoring in English. When she’s not in the office, she’s either at Cal games or “studying” in Moffitt.
Student Assistant

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

Miranda Schonbrun

Miranda Schonbrun is the Communications and Program Coordinator for the Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research (CIR). She’s had experience working in academic textbook publishing, in higher education in a Registrar’s office, and in nonprofit administration. Miranda graduated from the University of Florida with BA degrees in sociology and international studies, and from Columbia University with an MA degree in sociology.
Communications and Program Coordinator


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)

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

Kenneth A. Bamberger

Kenneth A. Bamberger is the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Professor of Law at UC Berkeley. He is also faculty co-director of the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, which hosts Berkeley’s Program on Jewish Law, Thought and Identity, and the campus’s Program on Israel Studies. Prof. Bamberger is an expert on the regulation of technology, expression, and privacy. He teaches courses on Administrative Law, the First Amendment (Religion and Speech), and Jewish 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.

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.

Daniel Boyarin

Daniel Boyarin is the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, faculty in the departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric, Affiliated Member Department of Women’s Studies, Member of core faculty in the minor in Gay and Lesbian Studies and of the graduate group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, and the designated emphasis in Women, Sexuality, Gender Studies, as well as the core faculty of the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture. He was awarded with a Doctorate Degree in 1975 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America upon completion of his dissertation on A Critical Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Nazir.
Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric

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.

Carolyn Chen

Carolyn Chen received her doctorate in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 2002. Prior to teaching at Berkeley, she was Associate Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University, where she served as Director of the Asian American Studies Program. She is author of the book Getting Saved in America: Taiwanese Immigration and Religious Experience (Princeton 2008) and co-editor of Sustaining Faith Traditions: Race, Ethnicity and Religion among the Latino and Asian-American Second Generation (NYU 2012). She is currently working on a book that examines the usage of Asian spiritual practices in Silicon Valley firms.
Ethnic Studies

John Connelly

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

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.
East Asian Languages and Cultures

Jacob Dalton

Jacob Dalton is 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 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.

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.

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.

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 (Emeritus)

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.

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

Ron Hendel

Professor Hendel has been a member of the Berkeley faculty since 1999 and has served as chair of Jewish Studies, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, and the Graduate Program in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology. Hendel approaches the Hebrew Bible from a variety of angles – history of religions, textual criticism, linguistics, comparative mythology, literature, and cultural memory. He is the editor-in-chief of The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition, a new critical edition of the Hebrew text, whose first volume (Proverbs, by Michael V. Fox) was published in 2015. He is also writing a new commentary on Genesis for the Yale Anchor Bible. In 1999, he received the Frank Moore Cross Publications Award from the American Schools of Oriental Research. His books include The Text of Genesis 1-11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition(Oxford, 1998), Remembering Abraham: Culture, History, and Memory in the Hebrew Bible (Oxford, 2005), Reading Genesis: Ten Methods (editor and contributor; Cambridge, 2010), The Book of Genesis: A Biography (Princeton, 2013), Steps to a New Edition of the Hebrew Bible (SBL Press, 2016), and How Old is the Hebrew Bible? A Linguistic, Textual, and Historical Study (Yale University Press, 2018).
Near Eastern Studies

David A. Hollinger

David A. Hollinger, Professor Emeritus of History, has recently published three books about American Protestantism, After Cloven Tongues of Fire (Princeton, 2013), Protestants Abroad (Princeton, 2017), and When This Mask of Flesh is Broken (Outskirts, 2019). History (emeritus).
History (Emeritus)

Steven Justice

Steven Justice is Professor of English. He works on a long stretch of writing in Christian Latinity from late antiquity to the later middle ages.

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

Abhishek Kaicker is a historian of South Asia and Assistant Professor in the History Department. He is interested in questions of politics, culture, and the city in the Mughal empire and the early modern world more broadly.

Ethan Katz

Ethan Katz is a historian of modern Europe and the Mediterranean, with specialties in modern Jewish history and the history of modern France and its empire. His publications include The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France (Harvard University Press, 2015), Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times (co-editor, with Ari Joskowicz; UPenn Press, 2015), Colonialism and the Jews (co-editor, with Lisa Moses Leff and Maud Mandel; Indiana University Press, 2017). His new new book project, tentatively titled Freeing the Empire: The Jewish Uprising That Helped the Allies Win the War, will chronicle the little-known story of an uprising in Algiers from 1940 to 1943 that proved vital to the success of Operation Torch.

Stanley A. Klein

Stanley A. Klein is a Professor of Vision Science and Optometry and a member of the Berkeley Visual Processing Laboratory.
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).

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.
Italian Studies, Art History

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 (Emeritus)

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

Duncan MacRae

Professor MacRae Duncan MacRae studies the religious history of the Roman world, particularly in the late Republican and early imperial periods. He has published on the traditional pagan religions of antiquity as well as on Judaism and early Christianity. His first book, Legible Religion, (Harvard University Press, 2016) argues that learned books that were written in the first century BCE by intellectuals like Varro, Cicero, Nigidius Figulus and a cast of Roman elites played an important role in the formation of the concept of “Roman religion”, particularly in the eyes of influential readers like the emperor Augustus and the bishop Augustine.

Sara Magrin

Sara Magrin is an associate 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.

Angela Marino

Angela Marino received her Ph.D., New York University. Research areas are: Performance and Political Theory; Fiesta and Carnival of Latin/o America; Popular Performance; Theater History; and Latin American Studies. Marino is co-editor of Festive Devils in the Americas in Richard Schechner’s Enactments Series (Seagull Press, distributed by University of Chicago Press, 2015) and is published in the Latin American Theater Review (2008), Harvard Revista (2014), e-misférica Journal of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (2013) and Cultural Anthropology (2014). She is currently writing a book on Populism and Performance. Marino is also advisor to the Teatro at Cal project and coordinator of the Luis Valdez Regent’s Lectureship in 2014.
Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

Christopher Ocker

Christopher Ocker is Professor of Church History at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. His monographs include Biblical Poetics before Humanism and Reformation (Cambridge), Church Robbers and Reformers in Germany (Brill), and Johannes Klenkok: A Friar’s Life, c. 1310-1374 (American Philosophical Society) and most recently,  Luther, Conflict, and Christendom: Reformation Europe and Christianity in the West (Cambridge). His many articles treat the history of biblical interpretation, the history of Jewish-Christian conflict, Reformation theology, and religious conflict in the Middle Ages. He was the coordinating editor of the two-volume Festschrift for Thomas A. Brady, Jr., Histories and Reformations (Brill), associate editor of the New Westminster Dictionary of Church History (Westminster John Knox), an editor of The Journal of the Bible and Its Reception, and a member of the editorial boards of the series Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions (Brill) and The Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Professor Ocker is on leave 2019-21.
Graduate Theological Union

Christine Philliou

Christine Philliou, associate professor, specializes in the political and social history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey and Greece as parts of the post-Ottoman world. Her book, Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution (University of California Press, 2011) examines the changes in Ottoman governance leading up to the Tanzimat reforms of the mid-nineteenth century. It does so using the vantage point of Phanariots, an Orthodox Christian elite that was intimately involved in the day-to-day work of governance even though structurally excluded from the Ottoman state. Her current work turns to the political, personal and intellectual/artistic itinerary of the Turkish writer Refik Halit Karay (1888-1965). Her interests and other publications have had to do with comparative empires across Eurasia, various levels of transitions from an “Ottoman” to a “post-Ottoman” world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and political and cultural interfaces in the eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, and Balkans in the early modern and modern eras. This fall she is teaching a seminar on the post-Ottoman World, and next semester a graduate seminar on comparative empires, “The Ottoman Empire and its Rivals.”

Diego Pirillo

Diego Pirillo (Ph.D., Scuola Normale Superiore) is Associate Professor of Italian Studies, and affiliated faculty in the Center for the Study of Religion, the Institute of European Studies, the Program in Critical Theory, and in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.He specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe and the Atlantic world, with an emphasis on Italy, England and early America. His research interests include religious studies, the history of books and readers, the history of diplomacy and international relations, and the history of scholarship and historiography.He has been a fellow at Villa I Tatti (the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), and his work has been supported by many institutions (The John Carter Brown Library, The Hellman Foundation, The UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies, the Newberry Library, The Rare Book School at UVA, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, among others).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 latest book The Refugee-Diplomat: Venice, England and the Reformation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press) .
Italian Studies

Alexander von Rospatt

Alexander von Rospatt is Professor for Buddhist and South Asian Studies, and director of the Group in Buddhist Studies. He specializes in the doctrinal history of Indian Buddhism, and in Newar Buddhism, the only Indic Mahayana tradition that continues to persist in its original South Asian setting (in the Kathmandu Valley) right to the present. His first book sets forth the development and early history of the Buddhist doctrine of momentariness. His new book “The Svayambhu Caitya and its Renovations” deals with the historical renovations of the Svayambhū Stupa of Kathmandu. Based on Newar manuscripts and several years of fieldwork in Nepal, he reconstructs the ritual history of these renovations and their social contexts. This book complements numerous essays Prof. von Rospatt has authored on various aspects of this tradition, including its narrative literature, and its rituals and their origins and evolution. He currently has two related monographs under preparation, one dealing with the mural paintings and other visual depictions of the Svayambhupurana, the other with the life-cycle rituals of old age as observed among Newars and other South Asian communities.
South and Southeast Asian Studies

Ethan Shagan

Ethan Shagan is an historian of early modern Britain in particular and early modern Europe more generally. His work most often focuses on the interpenetration of religion and politics, and more broadly the contested space of religion in the early modern world. His most recent book, The Rule of Moderation (Cambridge, 2011), explored how and why the ubiquitous discourse of moderation, the golden mean, and the religious via media in early modern England functioned as an ideology of control and a tool of social, religious, and political power. In his current project, entitled The Problem of Belief in Early Modern Europe, he is exploring how the Reformations of the sixteenth century threw the category of “belief” into crisis, changing its meanings and forcing it to bear extraordinary new weight under which it eventually collapsed. This attention to the category rather than the content of belief, and his claim that belief was a problem rather than a stable backdrop against which other problems occurred, challenges the framework with which scholars have considered the emergence of “unbelief” while at the same time challenging any attempt to imagine “belief” in the past as an irreducible constant or a motor of historical change.

Robert Sharf

Robert Sharf is D. H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. He received a B.A. in Religious Studies (1979) and an M.A. in Chinese Studies (1981) from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Michigan (1990). His graduate work included study in Japan; he was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research into the Humanities (Jinbun Kagaku Kenkyūjo) at Kyoto University, and also conducted fieldwork at Kōfukuji in Nara (1985-87). He works primarily in the area of medieval Chinese Buddhism (especially Chan), but he also dabbles in Japanese Buddhism, Buddhist art, ritual studies, and methodological issues in the study of religion.
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.

Yuri Slezkine

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

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 religion and chieftaincy in Malawi. She is currently engaged in a project examining how Christian and Muslim congregations in Malawi link villagers to wider social and sacred realities. Her work examines what services congregations provide, how Malawians understand the theological and practical offerings of different religious traditions, and why Malawians switch congregations, denominations, and even faith traditions with some frequency.

Ivonne del Valle

Ivonne del Valle is Associate Professor of Spanish & Portuguese and Associate Professor of Colonial Studies. Her research and teaching make connections between the past and the present which try to show the relevance of the colonial period for an understanding of contemporary times. She was co-director of the Berkeley research group “Mexico and the Rule of Law.” She has written a book and a series of articles on the Jesuits (José de Acosta and Loyola, and Jesuits in the northern borderlands of New Spain) as a particularly influential politico-religious order that served modernization and the expansion of the Spanish empire. She is currently working on two projects: one on the drainage of the lakes of Mexico City, and the other on the role of the colonization of Spanish America from the 15th century onward in the development of new epistemologies and political theories. In the latter she is exploring the ways in which both the unprecedented violence of conquest and colonization, and the need for effective administration of the colonies, brought about important theoretical, technological, and epistemological changes which may have been conceived to be put in place in the colonies, but which in the long run transformed the way Europe understood and fashioned itself.
Spanish and Portuguese

Niek Veldhuis

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

Post-Doctoral Scholars

Yunus Doğan Telliel

Yunus Doğan Telliel is the Berkeley Postdoctoral Fellow in Public Theology for the 2017-18 academic year. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at the City University of New York – Graduate Center. He serves on the steering committees of the “Contemporary Islam” and “Science, Technology, and Religion” groups in the American Academy of Religion. At BCSR, Telliel will be working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled What is the Language of Islam?, in which he examines the politics of secularism and religious difference in Turkey, through the lenses of language and translation. He also has a long-standing interest in debates around science and religion, and will be completing an article charting possible future collaborations between science and technology studies and critical secularism studies.

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins was Berkeley Postdoctoral Fellow in Public Theology for the 2016-2017 academic year. He is a historian of modern European political and intellectual thought with a specific focus on Europe and the World. He primarily concentrates on such topics as conservatism, nationalism, secularism, and religion and politics.

Visiting Scholars

Anna Hennessey

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, a blog devoted to birth, art, and visualization. She has taught within the University of California and California State University systems.


Udi Greenberg

Udi Greenberg studies and teaches modern European history, intellectual history, and international history. His scholarship and teaching focus especially on the intersection of ideas, institution building, and Europe’s interactions with the world. His work has been supported, among others, by the ACLS, Mellon Foundation, the Volkswagen Foundation, and the DAAD.

His first book, The Weimar Century: German Émigrés and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2015), traces the intellectual, institutional, and political journey of five influential political theorists from their education in Weimar Germany to their participation in the formation of the Cold War. It argues that both Germany’s postwar democratization, and the German-American alliance, were deeply shaped by these émigrés’ attempts to revive intellectual, religious, and political projects first developed in Weimar Germany. In 2016, it was awarded the Council of European Studies’ Book Prize (for best first book in European studies 2014-2015). It also appeared in German, Korean, and Hebrew translations.

He is currently working on a second book-length project, tentatively titled Religious Pluralism in the Age of Violence: Catholics and Protestants from Animosity to Peace 1885-1965. This project explores the intersections between twentieth-century religious thought and global politics. It investigates how transformations in global politics–the rise of Nazism, the unfolding of the Cold War, and the the process of European decolonization in Asia and Africa–helped fascilitate the end of the prolonged religious animosities between Protestants and Catholics.

His articles (mostly related to these two book projects) have appeared or are forthcoming in the American Historical ReviewJournal of Modern HistoryJournal of the History of IdeasJournal of the American Academy of Religion, and Journal of Contemproary History, among others. He has also published several essays on politics, religion, and history in The NationDissentBoston Review, L.A. Review of Books, n+1 and elsewhere.

At Dartmouth, he teaches a wide variety of classes on modern European and international history. In 2016, he was elected by the senior class as Dartmouth’s best professor, and was awarded the Jerome Goldstein Award, Dartmouth’s top teaching prize.


Sarah Bakker Kellogg

Sarah Bakker Kellogg (Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz, 2013) is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the intersection of religion, politics, and the performing arts. Using the methodological tools of sound studies and the anthropology of voice, she conducts on-going ethnographic fieldwork among Middle Eastern Christian refugees and immigrants who have settled in the Netherlands. This research has yielded several distinct projects, on which she has presented and published widely. These projects include investigations into Dutch secularism’s roots in anti-Enlightenment theocracy; racialization as the ethics and aesthetics of religious difference in Europe; gender, kinship, and ethics in the Syriac liturgical tradition; the secular construction of the category “ethnicity,” and the politics of intra-Christian and inter-faith activism globally. She has previously taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at San Francisco State University. During the 2017-2018 academic year, she will be completing her book manuscript, Liturgical Song in an Age of Political Calamity: Registers of Recognition in the Syriac Christian Diaspora, with funding from the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship. Representative publications can be found here. link:

Steven Barrie-Anthony

Steven Barrie-Anthony (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is a researcher, writer and consultant in the area of religion/spirituality and public life. He focuses on the rapidly growing category of people who choose not to identify with particular religions—the so-called religious “nones”—and on their innovative contributions to community formation and civic, political and philanthropic life. He also works in the areas of spirituality and the media, technology and medicine; American mystical and metaphysical religion; and new religious movements.

His academic publications have appeared in numerous scholarly volumes, and he has presented his research at national meetings of the American Anthropological Association, the American Academy of Religion and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. He is currently at work on a book about a particular network of American young adults who eschew “religion” yet who clearly embrace a shared “spirituality,” with a focus on their nontraditional experiments in public life.

Barrie-Anthony has written more than 100 popular essays and articles for publications such as the Los Angeles Times and He was formerly a staff writer for the LA Times where he covered technology and its personal and social impacts and also wrote about art, architecture, the movie business, literature, the media, crime and politics. His Times pieces were often reprinted in newspapers across the U.S. and internationally. He blogs occasionally for The Huffington Post.


Andrea Vestrucci

Andrea Vestrucci (Ph.D., University of Milan; Ph.D., University of Lille) has served as Professor at the Federal University in Fortaleza, Brazil; Australia Award fellow of Monash University; and researcher of the University of Milan. Currently a member of the Eric Weil Institute in Lille, he has recently completed a major research project in systematic theology for the University of Geneva.

His scientific commitment embraces both philosophical and theological speculations.

Concerning philosophy, he is a scholar of Kant and Neo-Kantianism (H. Cohen, E. Weil), and of the Hungarian Kreis called “Budapest School” (G. Lukács, A. Heller, F. Fehér, G. Markus). His philosophical research focuses on transcendental logic, meta-ethics, the ethics-aesthetics relationship, and philosophy of right.

Concerning theology, he deepened Martin Luther’s concept of freedom and its contemporary interpreters (and critics). His theological research focuses on the issue of theological language, the relationship between human meaning and divine revelation, and the rapport (and difference) between theology and philosophy.


Jason Sexton

Jason S. Sexton is a BCSR visiting fellow through June 2018. He has taught at Cal State Fullerton for the last three years, where he is the Pollak Library Faculty Fellow and edits the UC Press-published, Boom California. He holds the Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews, and has written widely in the areas of California studies, prison studies, religious studies, and contemporary theology. He has written The Trinitarian Theology of Stanley J. Grenz (Bloomsbury) and edited Theology and California: Theological Refractions on California’s Culture (Routledge). He is currently writing a book that gives an interdisciplinary theological account of the incarcerated church.

Claudio Ferlan

I took a degree in Law (1999) and in History (2003) and I completed my PhD in Early Modern History (2006) at the University of Trieste. I have held fellowships from Alpen-Adria Universität (Klagenfurt 2006), Karl-Franzens Universität (Graz 2007), Max Planck Institute for Legal History (Frankfurt am Main 2013) and I have been visiting Scholar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris 2016). Since 2008 (2011 full-time) I am researcher at the Bruno Kessler Foundation, Italian German Historical Institute. As adjunct professor, I teach a course in in History of Historiography at the University of Trent (2014 Atlantic History, 2015 Food History).
My broad areas of research are religious history in the early modern age, Jesuit studies and food history.

My current research explores the historical concept of Patchwork Religion as a spiritual experience characterized by the coexistence of elements from different traditions, religions, exoteric and spiritual movements. In this field of research, I am especially interested in history of food and food habits (ecclesiastical fast, table behaviors, beverages and drunkenness) as essential features of the negotiation between individuals and cultural models.


Graduate Students

New Directions in Theology Grantees

BCSR rewards promising young scholars from diverse disciplines with $5000 New Directions in Theology grants and faculty mentorship to create and shape a long-term community of inquiry on the Berkeley campus. Throughout the year, these first- and second-year graduate students explore new directions for the study of religion in the public university through weekly meetings convened by BCSR faculty. A list of past and present New Directions students is available here.