Select Faculty Publications
Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity: Cognition and Discipline. Cambridge University Press, 2017
In Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity, Paul C. Dilley explores the personal practices and group rituals through which the thoughts of monastic disciples were monitored and trained to purify the mind and help them achieve salvation. Dilley draws widely on the interdisciplinary field of cognitive studies, especially anthropology, in his analysis of key monastic 'cognitive disciplines', such as meditation on scripture, the fear of God, and prayer. In addition, various rituals distinctive to communal monasticism, including entrance procedures, the commemoration of founders, and collective repentance, are given their first extended analysis. Participants engaged in 'heart-work' on their thoughts and emotions, which were understood to reflect the community's spiritual state. This book will be of interest to scholars of early Christianity and the ancient world more generally for its detailed description of communal monastic culture and its innovative methodology. Click here for more information.
Jazz Religion, the Second Line and Black New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina. Indiana University Press, 2016.
An examination of the musical, religious, and political landscape of black New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina, this revised edition looks at how these factors play out in a new millennium of global apartheid. Richard Brent Turner explores the history and contemporary significance of second lines—the group of dancers who follow the first procession of church and club members, brass bands, and grand marshals in black New Orleans’s jazz street parades. Here music and religion interplay, and Turner’s study reveals how these identities and traditions from Haiti and West and Central Africa are reinterpreted. He also describes how second line participants create their own social space and become proficient in the arts of political disguise, resistance, and performance. More information can be found here.
Islam in the African-American Experience, Second Edition. Indiana University Press, 2003
The involvement of black Americans with Islam reaches back to the earliest days of the African presence in North America. Part I of the book explores these roots in the Middle East, West Africa, and antebellum America. Part II tells the story of the “Prophets of the City”—the leaders of the new urban-based African American Muslim movements in the 20th century. Turner places the study of Islam in the context of the racial, ethical, and political relations that influenced the reception of successive presentations of Islam, including the West African Islam of slaves, the Ahmadiyya Movement from India, the orthodox Sunni practice of later immigrants, and the Nation of Islam. This second edition features a new introduction, which discusses developments since the earlier edition, including Islam in a post-9/11 America. Click here for more information.
A Companion to the Huguenots. Coedited with Bertrand Van Ruymbeke. Brill Companion Series 68. Leiden: Brill, 2016.
The Huguenots are among the best known of early modern European religious minorities. Their suffering in 16th and 17th-century France is a familiar story. The flight of many Huguenots from the kingdom after 1685 conferred upon them a preeminent place in the accounts of forced religious migrations. Their history has become synonymous with repression and intolerance. At the same time, Huguenot accomplishments in France and the lands to which they fled have long been celebrated. They are distinguished by their theological formulations, political thought, and artistic achievements. This volume offers an encompassing portrait of the Huguenot past, investigates the principal lines of historical development, and suggests the interpretative frameworks that scholars have advanced for appreciating the Huguenot experience. Click here for more information.
Les registres des consistoires des Églises réformées de France, XVIe - XVIIe siècles. Un inventaire. Librairie Droz, 2014.
The consistory was the institutional foundation of the French Reformed Churches during the early modern period. Every local church had a consistory, composed of pastors, elders and deacons. Presided over by the pastor, it met each week to discuss matters of ecclesiastical administration, the spiritual and liturgical life of the congregation, assistance to the poor and, above all, morals control. Accordingly, the registers of consistorial deliberation constitute a remarkable source for the study of church discipline, the implementation of new liturgical forms and the organization of social welfare. They also disclose the details of human sociability, everyday behavior and popular culture. R. Mentzer has identified 309 surviving manuscript registers of consistorial deliberation for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They come from 156 different churches. The manuscripts are housed primarily at Paris in the Archives Nationales and the Bibliothèque du Protestantisme Français, and in the provincial departmental and municipal archives. More information can be found here.
Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, Ibadism, Rebellion, and Legitamacy. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
The 'Arab Spring' that began in 2011 has placed a spotlight on the transfer of political power in Islamic societies, reviving old questions about the place of political dissent and rebellion in Islamic civilization and raising new ones about the place of religion in modern Islamic societies. In Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, Ahmed E. Souaiaia examines the complex historical evolution of Islamic civilization in an effort to trace the roots of the paradigms and principles of Islamic political and legal theories. This study is one of the first attempts at providing a fuller picture of the place of dissent and rebellion in Islamic civilization by interpreting Sunni and Shi`i records in the context of little-known Ibad?i political and legal materials. As the oldest sect, Ibad?iyyah provides a record of the ways sectarianism and dissent developed and impinged on Islamic society and thought. Click here for more information.
Contesting Justice: Women, Law, and Society. SUNY Press, 2008
Contesting Justice examines the development of the laws and practices governing the status of women in Muslim society, particularly in terms of marriage, polygamy, inheritance, and property rights. Ahmed E. Souaiaia argues that such laws were not methodically derived from legal sources but rather are the preserved understanding and practices of the early ruling elite. Based on his quantitative, linguistic, and normative analyses of Quranic texts—and contrary to the established practice—the author shows that these texts sanction only monogamous marriages, guarantee only female heirs’ shares, and do not prescribe an inheritance principle that awards males twice the shares of females. He critically explores the way religion is developed and then is transformed into a social control mechanism that transcends legal reform, gender-sensitive education, or radical modernization. To ameliorate the legal, political, and economic status of women in the Islamic world, Souaiaia recommends the strengthening of civil society institutions that will challenge wealth-engendered majoritism, curtail society-manufactured conformity, and bridle the absolute power of the state. Click here for more information.
The Cursillo Movement in America: Catholics, Protestants, and Fourth-Day Spirituality. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2013.
The internationally growing Cursillo movement, or "short course in Christianity," founded in 1944 by Spanish Catholic lay practitioners, has become popular among American Catholics and Protestants alike. This lay-led weekend experience helps participants recommit to and live their faith. Emphasizing how American Christians have privileged the individual religious experience and downplayed denominational and theological differences in favor of a common identity as renewed people of faith, Kristy Nabhan-Warren focuses on cursillistas--those who have completed a Cursillo weekend--to show how their experiences are a touchstone for understanding these trends in post-1960s American Christianity.
Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork as well as historical research, Nabhan-Warren shows the importance of Latino Catholics in the spread of the Cursillo movement. Cursillistas' stories, she argues, guide us toward a new understanding of contemporary Christian identities, inside and outside U.S. borders, and of the importance of globalizing American religious boundaries. More information can be found here.
The Virgin of El Barrio. New York: New York University Press, 2005.
In 1998, a Mexican American woman named Estela Ruiz began seeing visions of the Virgin Mary in south Phoenix. The apparitions and messages spurred the creation of Mary’s Ministries, a Catholic evangelizing group, and its sister organization, ESPIRITU, which focuses on community-based initiatives and social justice for Latinos/as.
Based on ten years of participant observation and in-depth interviews, The Virgin of El Barrio traces the spiritual transformation of Ruiz, the development of the community that has sprung up around her, and the international expansion of their message. Their organizations blend popular and official Catholicism as well as evangelical Protestant styles of praise and worship, shedding light on Catholic responses to the tensions between popular and official piety and the needs of Mexican Americans. Click here for more information.
The Cities That Built the Bible. San Francisco: Harper One, 2017
For many, the names Bethlehem, Babylon, and Jerusalem are known as the setting for epic stories from the Bible featuring rustic mangers, soaring towers, and wooden crosses. What often gets missed is that these cities are far more than just the setting for the Bible and its characters—they were instrumental to the creation of the Bible as we know it today. Taking us behind-the-scenes of the Bible, Cargill blends archaeology, biblical history, and personal journey as he explores these cities and their role in the creation of the Bible. He reveals surprising facts such as what the Bible says about the birth of Jesus and how Mary’s Virgin Birth caused problems for the early church. We’ll also see how the God of the Old Testament was influenced by other deities, that there were numerous non-biblical books written about Moses, Jacob, and Jesus in antiquity, and how far more books were left out of the Bible than were let in during the messy, political canonization process. Click here for more information.
Qumran through (Real) Time: A Virtual Reconstruction of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Bible In Technology 1. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2009.
The settlement of Khirbet Qumran has been at the center of archaeological debate since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Recent publications have questioned Roland de Vaux’s initial conclusion that the Essenes built Qumran and there composed the Dead Sea Scrolls. This book examines the history of interpretation of the settlement at Qumran and introduces a new digital methodology that employs virtual reality to analyze the remains. The book concludes that after an initial Iron Age occupation, the site of Qumran was established as a Hasmonean fortress, abandoned, and later reoccupied by a small religious community that expanded the site in a communal, non-military manner. This group was ultimately responsible for some of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the nearby caves. For more information click here.
Aquinas on the Emotions: A Religious-Ethical Inquiry. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press (Moral Tradition Series), 2009.
All of us want to be happy and live well. Sometimes intense emotions affect our happiness—and, in turn, our moral lives. Our emotions can have a significant impact on our perceptions of reality, the choices we make, and the ways in which we interact with others. Can we, as moral agents, have an effect on our emotions? Do we have any choice when it comes to our emotions? More information can be found here.
Medicine and the Ethics of Care. Ed. with Paul Lauritzen. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
In these essays, a diverse group of ethicists draw insights from both religious and feminist scholarship in order to propose creative new approaches to the ethics of medical care. While traditional ethics emphasizes rules, justice, and fairness, the contributors to this volume embrace an "ethics of care," which regards emotional engagement in the lives of others as basic to discerning what we ought to do on their behalf.
The essays reflect on the three related themes: community, narrative, and emotion. They argue for the need to understand patients and caregivers alike as moral agents who are embedded in multiple communities, who seek to attain or promote healing partly through the medium of storytelling, and who do so by cultivating good emotional habits. A thought-provoking contribution to a field that has long been dominated by an ethics of principle, Medicine and the Ethics of Care will appeal to scholars and students who want to move beyond the constraints of that traditional approach. Click here for more information.
How Zen Became Zen: The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China. University of Hawai’i Press, 2009.
How Zen Became Zen takes a novel approach to understanding one of the most crucial developments in Zen Buddhism: the dispute over the nature of enlightenment that erupted within the Chinese Chan (Zen) school in the twelfth century. Click here for more information.
Readings of the Platform Sutra. Co-Edited with Stephen F. Teiser, Columbia University Press (Readings of Buddhist Literature Series), 2012.
The Platform Sutra comprises a wide range of important Chan/Zen Buddhist teachings. Purported to contain the autobiography and sermons of Huineng (638–713), the legendary Sixth Patriarch of Chan, the sutra has been popular among monastics and the educated elite for centuries. The first study of its kind in English, this volume offers essays that introduce the history and ideas of the sutra to a general audience and interpret its practices. Leading specialists on Buddhism discuss the text's historical background and its vaunted legacy in Chinese culture. Click here for more.
The Self Possessed: Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
The Self Possessed is a multifaceted, diachronic study reconsidering the very nature of religion in South Asia, the culmination of years of intensive research. Frederick M. Smith proposes that positive oracular or ecstatic possession is the most common form of spiritual expression in India, and that it has been linguistically distinguished from negative, disease-producing possession for thousands of years. Read more here.
Modern and Global Ayurveda: Pluralism and Paradigms. Ed. with Dagmar Wujastyk. Albany NY: State University of New York Press, 2008.
Modern and Global Ayurveda provides an overview of the relatively recent history of Ayurveda in its modern and globalized forms. One of the traditional medical systems originating on the Indian subcontinent, Ayurveda is fast becoming a transnational phenomenon. Contributors to this volume include both scholars and practitioners of Ayurveda. The wide range of perspectives they offer include the philosophical, anthropological, sociopolitical, economic, biomedical, and pharmacological. Issues such as the ideological clashes between “classical” and “modernized” Ayurveda, the “export” of Ayurvedic medical lore to Western countries, and the possible “reimport” of its adapted and reinterpreted contents are covered and prove particularly relevant to contemporary discussion on the integration of complementary and alternative health care.
Choctaw Women in a Chaotic World: The Clash of Cultures in the Colonial Southeast. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 2005
Prior to European contact, the Choctaw's matrilineal society supported women's contributions in all areas of community life. Evidence of Choctaw women's participation in religious and political concerns, however, declined drastically early in the eighteenth century. Michelene Pesantubbee traces the changes in women's roles in Choctaw society from the late 1600s to the mid-1700s during the French colonial period in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Click here for more information.
The Jewish Experience (Fourth Edition). Pearson Custom Publishing. 2002
This is a book about the Hebrew Bible. It is the author's intention that this book serve to introduce the reader to both the problems and delights of biblical study. The problems are legion: the Hebrew Bible is an ancient book written in an ancient tongue; it consists of thirty-nine books which appear to differ widely both in form and content; and it is considered by the adherents of three world religions to be sacred literature, which for many implies that it is not to be read as one would read any other book. These and other problems will be discussed in this book with the goal in mind of formulating a method of beginning to read the Hebrew Bible. More than anything else, this book is about how to read the Hebrew Bible. Click here for information.