Emma Rifai

Emma Rifai
PhD student
Education: 
M.A. in International Studies: Middle East Studies, University of Washington, 20ll; B.A. in Socialogy of Religion, Minnesota State University Moorhead, 2009; B.M. in Instrumental Music with a Minor in Religion, Concordia College, 2008
Office: 
322 GILH
Phone: 
335-2320
Curriculum Vitae: 

Emma Rifai received a Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance and a minor in Religion from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, followed by a Bachelor of Arts in the Sociology of Religion from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.  She then went on to receive her Master of Arts in Middle East Studies from the University of Washington.  She is presently working on her PhD at the University of Iowa in the Religious Studies Department.  

Her current primary focus is on Protestantism in America and its relationship to weight loss culture, gender and body image issues.  Her Master's thesis, however, examined Islamic fashion in Turkey and how it functions as a vehicle allowing women to explore relationships with modesty and consumption in new ways.  Emma has presented and co-presented at the National and Upper Midwest AAR conferences as well as co-published in the JFSR.  In 2016, she presented at the Doing the Body in the 21st Century Conference at the University of Pittsburgh, and her review of Donovan Schaefer's Religious Affects:  Animality, Evolution, and Power was published in Material Religion.  She was also a participant in the 2016 Iowa N.E.W. Leadership Institute.  

At The University of Iowa she has been a teaching assistant for Harry Potter: Mystery and Magic of Life, Religion in America Today, Religion and Sport in America, and Modern Religion and Culture.  She has also been a grader for Digital Media and Religion.  In the spring, she will be teaching Digital Media and Religion.

Emma is active with the department's Religion Graduate Student Organization (RGSO) and serves as the student director of the Upper Midwest Region of the American Academy of Religion.  In addition, she helps facilitate the graduate student critical theory reading group and regularly volunteers at the Iowa City Public Library.

Click here for a special article about Emma, written by a representative of the Graduate College in March, 2018.  

Research Interests: 
Religion, Gender and Culture; Religion, Food and the Body; Protestantism in America; Gender and Islam
Selected Publications: 
  • “Spreading the Religion of Thinness from California to Calcutta:  A Critical Feminist Postcolonial Analysis” with Michelle Lelwica and Jenna McNallie.  Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 24:1 (Spring 2009):  20-41. (Published under Emma Hoglund.)
  • Review of Religious Affects:  Animality, Evolution, and Power, by Donovan O. Schaefer. Material Religion 12:4 (December 2016):  515-516.
Awards, Honors and Grants: 
  • Alice Marguerite Blough Award, The University of Iowa, 2017
  • Graduate Student Senate Travel Grant, The University of Iowa, 2016
  • Department of Religious Studies Travel Grant, The University of Iowa, 2016
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, University of Washington, 2010-2011
  • Schwartz Fellowship, University of Washington, 2009-2010
  • Alpha Kappa Delta, Minnesota State University Moorhead, 2009
  • Summa Cum Laude, Concordia College, 2008
  • Religion Honors, Concordia College, 2008
  • Centennial Scholars Grant, Concordia College, 2006-2007

Presentations:

  • “Disrupting Secular Space:  Veiled Female Bodies in Turkish Shopping Malls,” Jakobsen Memorial Graduate Conference, The University of Iowa, 2017
  • “Fashioning Identities:  New Relationships with Fashion and Modesty in Turkey,” Doing the Body in the 21st Century Conference, University of Pittsburgh, 2016
  • “Spreading the Religion of Thinness from California to Calcutta:  A Critical Feminist Postcolonial Analysis,” Concordia College, 2014
  • “Fashioning Identities:  New Relationships with Fashion and Modesty in Turkey,” Minnesota State University Moorhead, 2014
  • “The Body’s Iron Cage and Its Relationship to the Protestant Ethic,” Annual Upper Midwest Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, 2008
  • “From California to Calcutta:  Spreading the White-Western Devotion to Female Thinness - A Feminist Post-Colonial Analysis,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, 2007

Service and Professional Development:

  • Student Director of the Upper Midwest Region of the American Academy of Religion, 2017-Present
  • Iowa N.E.W. Leadership Institute Participant, The University of Iowa, 2016
  • UI Council on the Status of Women Participant, The University of Iowa, 2016-2017
  • Advanced Graduate Student Workshop Leader, The University of Iowa, 2015
  • Graduate Student Critical Theory Reading Group Leader, The University of Iowa, 2015-Present
  • Religion Graduate Student Organization (RGSO), The University of Iowa Co-Coordinator, 2017-Present
    • Faculty Committee Representative, 2016-Present
    • Graduate Student Mentor, 2017-Present
    • Social Event Chair, 2015-2016
    • Secretary/Treasurer, 2016