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                Research

2005 Summer Research Fellows

Nicholas Beasley (History) engaged with the work of his dissertation, “Christian Liturgy and Social Power in British Plantation Colonies, 1620-1760.” The dissertation explored the social impact of Christian liturgy in places and times that historians have long found devoid of any meaningful Christian practice. Beasley argued that the failure to recognize liturgical behavior as an important form of historical Christianity has obscured an essential process by which social power was created and contested in the British colonial world.
Nicholas Beasley's abstract and report (pdf)

Benjamin Coleman (Theological Studies) traveled abroad to conduct research at Mt. Emei, one of the four sacred Buddhist Mountains in China. Located in the Southern part of Sichuan Province, the mountain has had Buddhist temples, monasteries, and local temples dedicated to non-Buddhist deities since the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 C.E.). Coleman observed rituals and acts of devotion taking place at local temples and contrasted them with those occurring at monasteries with resident monks. He was particularly interested in Eliade’s notion of sacred space (Eliade) and how it illuminates or obscures the activities at Mt. Emei and the surrounding region.
Benjamin Coleman's abstract and report (pdf)

Amy Kathryn Mart (Human Development Counseling) undertook a research project on spirituality, a topic of considerable interest in the mental health field. In particular, Mart sought to create a quantitative developmental measure of spirituality useful for mental health clinicians and for further research in this growing area of interest. This project involved the administration of interviews and the comparison of the resulting data with prominent theories on spiritual development, to develop a paper and pencil measure of spiritual development.
Amy Kathryn Mart's abstract and report (pdf)

Arik Ohnstad (Anthropology) applied the notion of “landscape” to his archeological fieldwork in the Titicaca Basin located on the South American Altiplano on the border between Peru and Bolivia. His research on landscapes of religious and ecological change in the Titicaca Basin suggests a new synthesis for the southeastern Titicaca Basin, a productive archeological region that has produced disparate data analyzed from varied theoretical perspectives.
Arik Ohnstad's abstract and report (pdf)

Laura Redruello (Spanish and Portugese) analyzed how, in Cuba, throughout the Special Period of the nineteen-nineties, there has been a reevaluation of the Revolution from within. Studying both the official and underground cultural discourse written during this period, Redruello contrasted canonical literary, musical and film texts promoted by official institutions with those texts that come from the margins in which new debates dealing with racial, gender, religious and diasporic issues are brought to the forefront.
Laura Redruello's abstract and report (pdf)

Kelly D. Taylor-Richardson (Community Research and Action)
investigated barriers to mental health treatment for people with indigenous and cultural spiritual beliefs using community based research methods. In particular, this project examined the relation between indigenous spiritual beliefs and practices in West Africa and beliefs brought from African cultures and their effect on health-seeking behavior for mental health issues in Black Americans, Black Africans, and Afro-Caribbeans. Focus group interviews were conducted locally with Black-Americans and immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean as well as with native Africans in Nigeria and Senegal.
Kelly Taylor-Richardson's abstract and report (pdf)

J. Aaron Simmons (Philosophy) worked within the deconstructive philosophy of religion in the area of God and transcendence in which Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Marion are the major players. Simmons' dissertation is titled “Violence and Singularity: The Political Efficacy of Ethico-Religious Exposure in Kierkegaard and Levinas.” This work argues that political philosophy should take more seriously the political implications of a theory that locates ethico-religious exposure as constitutive of self-hood.
J. Aaron Simmons' abstract and report (pdf)

Monica Smatlak Liao (History and Critical Theories of Religion)
conducted fieldwork for a dissertation on conservative Protestant home schooling families. Smatlak argued that while this group of families makes up a very small percentage of U.S. families, their distinctive family practices may yield a significance out of proportion to their numbers for theories of changes in symbolic order; the public-private, secular-religious oppositions in American culture; meanings of domestic space; gender identity in relation to domestic practices; space and ritualization of practice; and the interrelationship of place, practice, and person.
Monica Smatlak Liao's abstract and report (pdf)

Kristen Taylor (Theological Studies)
undertook the project “Am I African or American? Being a Black American in post-apartheid South Africa.” This project engaged social-identity theory to examine how one’s personal, particular social designations, whether self-identified or imposed by another, dictate how people from different cultures perceive and interact with each other. Taylor drew from reflections on her own experiences in South Africa in 2003 as well as the memorable encounters her other travelmates have had in South Africa.
Kristen Taylor's report and abstract (pdf)