Kristy Nabhan-Warren

You are here

Kristy Nabhan-Warren
Professor, V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair in Catholic Studies
Religious Studies
309 Gilmore Hall

Kristy is Professor and the inaugural V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair in Catholic Studies.

Teaching: Kristy is passionate about teaching and research and finds both vocations to be mutually informing and inspiring. In both the classroom and in her scholarly work, she focuses on the lived, daily experiences of American Christians and their communities. Kristy loves to teach and enjoys the challenge of making the academic study of religion relevant and exciting to students. She strives to get them to the point where they care more about understanding and empathizing with others' beliefs and practices than when they entered the class. She aims to make her classes learning communities where the professor and students learn as much from the assigned texts--printed, aural, and digital--as they do from each other's perspectives and analyses.

Research: Kristy's newest book is Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland (UNC Press, September 2021). Based on seven years of fieldwork in rural Iowa, Meatpacking America is a finely grained ethnography as well as historically situated study of lived religion in the hog and corn producing state of Iowa. Kristy makes the argument that if we want to understand the intersectionalities of migration, work, and religion in the United States today, then we must focus on states like Iowa and the broader midwestern Cornbelt. She makes a case for studying small towns and rural places, as scholars have long privileged urban locales. Moreover, if we want to truly understand the complex dynamics of religion, scholars must explore places long overlooked as religious sites, like slaughterhouses and farm fields. Since the book came out in September 2021, it has been a wonderful whirlwind of Zoom talks, book festivals, and podcasts, and Kristy has been giving Zoom talks to students and faculty at a wide range of colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad (Sweden!) and has several in-person talks planned for 2022-2023. You can listen to the podcasts, radio shows, and read reviews of Meatpacking America at the links provided in Kristy’s CV.

Funding for the research and writing of Meatpacking America has been generously supported by The American Parish Project; The University of Iowa; and The Louisville Institute. Kristy is especially grateful to The Louisville Institute which granted her a Sabbatical Grant For Researchers (SGR) to make a 2017-2018 academic year research leave possible and for her to write the first draft.

Kristy is committed to making scholarship meaningful to non-academics as well as academics, and prides herself on writing for a wide audience. She works hard to stay true to her working class and Midwestern roots. She embraces a Humanities for the Public Good approach to her research, writing, and dissemination of information.

Service to the Profession: Kristy is thrilled to be the creator and series editor of the book series Where Religion Lives with The University of North Carolina Press. She worked closely with UNC Press Executive Editor Elaine Maisner up to her April 2022 retirement from the press, and now works with UNC Press Editorial Director Mark Simpson-Vos on the series. WRL is dedicated to publishing innovative ethnographies of religion. Look for our exciting books in upcoming years, and check out and follow our website and twitter account! and @WhereRelLives

Kristy has been an active member of her flagship organization, The American Academy of Religion since 1994 and is on the Steering Committee of several journals. She enjoys serving as manuscript reader-reviewer for several university presses, including: The University of Arizona Press, New York University Press, Cornell University Press, Columbia University Press, Yale University Press, The University of Illinois Press, Fordham University Press, and The University of North Carolina Press. Kristy also loves to mentor junior scholars here at Iowa and across the U.S. and abroad, and to support them in their career and life trajectories. It is all about paying it forward!

Life Outside of Work: Kristy has been happily married to her husband, the U.S. historian and University of Iowa History and American Studies professor Stephen Warren, since 1994. They have three teenagers: Cormac, Declan, and Josie, who give them great joy and who keep them very busy (!) Kristy enjoys cooking vegetarian meals and baking. They enjoy travelling as a family: locally (where they love discovering Iowa foodways and neat towns), nationally, and internationally (from London to Mallorca to China). Kristy also likes to hike, walk long distances (even in the Iowa cold months!), and hang out with her family and dogs Rosie and Kipo. She believes that staying balanced and active is key to health happiness in life. 

Research Interests and Expertise: American Religions; Ethnographic approaches to the study of religion; Catholic Studies; Latinx Studies.

Selected Publications: 

(For complete list, please view Kristy’s CV

  • The Oxford Handbook on Latinx Christianities in the United States. Editor. Oxford University Press, Spring 2022.
  • Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work, and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland.  University of North Carolina Press, 2021.
  • Américan Woman: The Virgin of Guadalupe, Latinas/os, and Accompaniment. Loyola Marymount University Press, March 2018.
  • The Cursillo Movement in America: Catholics, Protestants, & Fourth-Day Spirituality. The University of North Carolina Press. September 2013.
  • The Virgin of El Barrio: Marian Apparitions, Catholic Evangelizing, and Mexican American Activism. New York University Press, Qualitative Studies in Religion series. May 2005.

Courses Taught Include: 

  • RELS:1702 Religion in America Today
  • RELS 2877/SPST 2077 Sport and Religion in America
  • RELS 3550//GWSS/SJUS 3550 Social Justice, Spirituality, and Religion
  • RELS: 6580 Graduate Seminar: Gender and Religion
  • RELS: 6580 Graduate Seminar: Religion, Work, and Migration
  • RELS: 6580 Graduate Seminar: American Religious Histories