Emma Rifai

Emma Rifai
PhD Candidate
Education: 
M.A. in Religious Studies, The University of Iowa, 2018; M.A. in International Studies, University of Washington, 20ll; B.A. in Sociology of Religion, Minnesota State University Moorhead, 2009; B.M. in Music, Concordia College, 2008
Office: 
322 GILH
Phone: 
335-2320
Office Hours: 
Mon 8:15a-11:15a & by appt (Fall 2018)
Curriculum Vitae: 

Emma Rifai is a PhD candidate in the department of religious studies.  Her dissertation project explores the mediating role women’s bodies play in American weight loss cultures and argues that women’s bodies and practices of weight management have become cultural techniques for producing and replicating protestant-informed secularism in the United States.  Emma recently presented part of her research, entitled “Networked Anorexia:  Pro-Ana Communities, Network Logic, and the Internet,” at the Conference of the International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Emma 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.  Her Master's thesis examined Islamic fashion in Turkey and how it functions as a vehicle allowing women to explore relationships with modesty and consumption in new ways.  In the process of completing her PhD at The University of Iowa she has also completed a Master’s of Arts in Religious Studies as well as earned The Graduate Certificate in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and The Graduate Certificate in College Teaching. 

At The University of Iowa she has been an instructor for Digital Media and Religion and a teaching assistant for Harry Potter:  Mystery & 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 fall, she will be a teaching assistant in Medieval Religion and Culture.

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.

For more information, please visit her personal website.

Research Interests: 
American Religions; Critical Theory and Religion; Religion, Food, and the Body
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.
  • Review of The Story of Radio Mind:  A Missionary's Journey on Indigenous Land, by Pamela E. Klassen.
  • Material Religion.  Forthcoming.
Presentations: 
  • "Pro-Ana:  An Internet-Mediated 'New Religious Movement'?" Craft Critique Culture:  Reckoning with Appetite Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, The University of Iowa
  • "Networked Anorexia:  Pro-Ana Communities, Network Logic, and the Internet," Conference of the International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture, University of Colorado Boulder 
  • “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 Public Engagement: 
  • Summer Doctoral Seminar at Wayne State University of Professor Bonnie Dow
  • Peer Reviewer for Contemporary Women's Writing, 2018-Present
  • Dissertation Writing Summer Camp, 2018
  • Grant and Fellowship Writing Seminar, 2018
  • Theta Alpha Kappa, The University of Iowa
  • 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
Awards, Honors and Grants: 
  • Louis Pennigroth Scholarship, The University of Iowa, 2018
  • 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, 2017
  • 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