Marion Achoulias is a Ph.D. student in Religion who comes from a wide background in Gender Studies, Continental Philosophy and German Studies. Influenced by the Frankfurt School, she applies Critical Theory to the question of Religion Studies' potential contributions to both academic and public discourse about the cultural and ethical dimensions of animal use in society. Moreover, she is interested in environmental ethics and related religion-inspired advocacy. In her examination of Jewish, Christian and 'secular' approaches to these contemporary issues, she focuses on the history and import of Jewish cultural critique in addition to public dialogue and conflict with respect to traditional practices involving animals.
Marc-André Argentino is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion at Concordia University, Montreal. His research is currently focused on the relational mechanism that are found between social media and violence, radicalization and terrorism. His focus for his PhD is on how religious entities use digital and mass media to build their narratives, as well as target and recruit individuals to their cause and instill fear in their enemies. The goal of his research is to ultimately construct counter narratives and prevent hate speech. His dissertation is funded by the Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Société et la Culture (FQRSC).
Joseph Brito is a PhD student in the Department of Religion. His current research focuses on forms of Christianities existing in the 2nd and 3rd century in North Africa, applying a postcolonial lens to the construct of history and identity. He holds a BTh and MA from the Universite de Montreal, as well as partial studies in literature and humanities. Other fields of interest include theories regarding media and the canon, Early Christian Apocryphal literature, forms and expressions of pre-nicean Christian "communities" and theories regarding their "identity," material culture, and literary methods and approaches. He is the current President of the Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference (AGIC). His dissertation is funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Quebec Societe et Culture (FRQSC).
Lucas's primary research interest is in disability theory of the Bible, with specific attention to how biblical studies as a field contributed to interpreting disability in a profoundly negative way throughout history and into the contemporary period. His research focuses on using literary-critical and narrative methods of reading to offer redemptive readings of texts that have traditionally been employed to marginalize disabled individuals in various ways, and on creating spaces in which disabled individuals can speak for themselves on their own terms, rather than being forced to conform to abelist standards of interpretation through the lens of pop culture, and how biblical stories change when they come to the audience through non-traditional media.
Lucas is also interested in popular culture versions of the Bible and their role as translations of the Bible for a mass audience. He is specifically interested in comic book Bibles and how they construct the biblical story for younger audiences, and the extent to which communities of interpretation are allowed to determine what a text says.
Azadeh Ehsani-Chombeli (ABD) has an M.A. in ancient languages and the culture of Iran, and has been working on languages such as Avestan, as well as Old and Middle Persian. Presently, Azadeh is working on Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. Azadeh’s focus is on Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and the Babylonian Talmud, which was compiled in Iran during the Sassanid era. Her research interest is the interactions between the Jewish community of Iran during the Sassanid era and their Iranian counterparts.
Claire English is currently completing course work in the Judaic Studies stream of the PhD program. Her research examines the intersections of Disability and Judaic Studies. For her dissertation, Claire will write a history of the Jewish Deaf communities of New York in the late 19th to early 20th century. Further areas of study include Hebrew Bible and Interpretation, Rabbinics, ritual theory, sensory and material anthropology, and the history of emotions. Claire holds a BA in Classical Civilization and an MA in Judaic Studies, both from Concordia University.
Annie Gitlitz is a PhD student researching Jewish spirit possession from psychoanalytic, narrative, ritual, and feminist perspectives. She is an alumna of Hunter College (B.A., 2005) and Harvard Divinity School (M.T.S., 2008). Her thesis project will interrogate the dialectics of dybbuk possession and exorcism among early modern and modern European women and girls. Through April 2018, Annie is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Religious Studies. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ildiko Glaser-Hille's primary research interest is mediaeval religion, particularly 13th century Christian-Jewish views of each other as presented in mediaeval Germanic folk tales about demons. In general, she is interested in demonology and stories about evil and how they reflect a change within its social and cultural environment. Other research interests include ritual theory, popular religions, narrative and mythological theories. Ildiko is the former chair of the successful graduate student conference (AGIC), hosted by the Department of Religion and is held annually.
Cimminnee Holt is a part-time lecturer and doctoral candidate in religious studies at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. She is a recipient of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship grants, awarded by the government of Canada, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture bourse de doctorat (in name only). Her broad areas of interest are new religious movements, religion and popular culture, ritual and performance theory, media studies and material culture, and western esotericism. She has presented at multiple conferences, given guest lectures, and done media interviews on her specialization of modern religious Satanism. She is currently completing her dissertation, an ethnographic study on members of the Church of Satan. Her publications include: "The Church of Satan" and"The Temple of Set" entries in Satanism: A Reader, by Oxford University Press (forthcoming); "Modern Religious Satanism: A Negotiation of Tensions," co-authored with Jesper Aagaard Petersen, a chapter in the Oxford Handbook on New Religious Movements (2016); "Blood, Sweat, and Urine: The Scent of Feminine Fluids in Anton LaVey's The Satanic Witch," in the International Journal for the Study of New Religions (2013); and "Death and Dying in the Satanic Worldview," published in the Journal of Religion and Culture (2011). She laments not becoming a carpenter.
Lindsey is a doctoral student in the Department of Religion at Concordia University. Lindsey's research interests revolve around contemporary Jewish ritual. Lindsey is interested in ritual change, creation of ritual, the tension between tradition and innovation, and the diversity of ritual practice within the Montreal Jewish community. Lindsey is also interested in the role of gender, sexuality, and the body in ritual practices. Lindsey's research is focused on Jewish parents who are choosing not to circumcise their baby boys in favour of an alternative ritual, known as brit shalom (covenant of peace).
Angelique Koumouzelis is studying images of prostitution in hagiography and Biblical narrative. Her research uses the approaches of biblical studies and gender studies to read biblical narratives in light of the language and imagery of prostitution in Greek texts, and the historical context of late antiquity.
Phil's work centers on the Hindu deity, Ardhanarisvara. Ardhanarisvara is a composite figure; its body is split into male and female halves by a vertical axis. Significant academic scholarship has focused on the iconography, mythological narratives, and philosophical interpretations of Ardhanarisvara. However, scholarship has largely omitted content concerning Ardhanarisvara in living context, including information about dedicated sites of worship. To account for this oversight Phil's M.A. thesis involved fieldwork at one such site in Tiruchengode, Tamil Nadu. After completing his M.A. he traveled to India again through a Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute awarded bursary and located additional Ardhanarisvara temples at this time. His Ph.D. project aims at doing a comprehensive ethnographic study of these additional dedicated sites in order to create a more robust treatment of the figure.
Catherine Leisser, admitted to the Ph.D. program - Fall 2015, obtained her BA cum laude (Honours, Classical Civilization) from Concordia University and her MA through Concordia's INDI program (thesis: Life on the Outer Limits of the Roman Empire: The Cult of Jupiter Dolichenus on the Roman limes, from Hadrian's Wall to the Austrian Danube Frontier - A Comparative Study of Dolichena). She looks forward to investigating the archaeological aspects of religious life (worship, rituall) in a selection of north-western boundary provinces of the Roman Empire, for which she received a doctoral fellowship grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and a fellowship from Concordia.
Mai Bui Dieu Linh is a Ph.D. student whose study focuses on the history and philosophy of Hinduism and Buddhism in South Asia. Her thematic interests include the historical transmission of Indian culture, religion, and art to medieval Southeast Asia. Her master's thesis investigated religious art, iconography, and sculptures of medieval Campa, a network of ancient "Indianized" city-states that existed along the coast of the central and southern parts of present-day Vietnam. Her Ph.D. dissertation examines religious identities and the (re)-invention of religious traditions of the contemporary Cam communities of Southern Vietnam. She is also a recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council doctoral fellowship grant of Canada.
Spyridon Loumakis holds an M.A. in Archaeology from the University of Athens, Greece, and an M.A. in the History and Philosophy of Religion from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, funded by the "Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation" and the "A.G. Leventis Foundation". He worked for three years in the Hellenic Ministry of Culture in Athens as archaeologist and participated in field work and survey excavations on the island of Cos, Dodecanese, Greece. He is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Religion and works as part-time lecturer at Concordia University, Montreal. His interests are divided between the modern world (genocide studies, colonial and post-colonial Central and East African Christianity) and the ancient world (ritual studies, healing cults, river deities, late Antique Egypt, the Underworld).
Eli Mason is a PhD student. He obtained MA degrees in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Waterloo, Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto, and Religious Studies from Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Eclectic in his studies, Eli has nonetheless maintained consistent interest in demons, angels, and anything a little bit devilish. His current project focuses on the fallen angel Azazel, whose development in religious traditions and literary works will be the subject of an intensive study on the character and his history. Additional interests include queer theory, ancient Carthage, and spiders.
E. Meaghan Matheson works in the area of Early Christian Studies and Gender Studies. Trained in Koine Greek, Sahidic Coptic, and Biblical Hebrew, Ms. Matheson's research focuses on first and second century Christian texts preoccupied with female prophetic, and pedagogical speech. Her intellectual lines of inquiry are centred on the social influences of gender among early Christian communities, and the roles of bodies and embodiment in the fashioning of early Christian identity. Ms. Matheson's research is likewise influenced by Queer Theory, and Ritual Studies.
Esther Mayer is studying the liturgy of Yosse ben Yosse, a 5th century liturgist who lived in Byzantine Palestine. Her dissertation will compare and contrast Yosse ben Yosse's texts with rabbinic and some non-rabbinic texts, in order to identify, through discourse analysis, evidence of the putative historic rivalry between the rabbis of the Mishnah and the Priestly caste, as both attempted to lead the people and give shape to Judaism itself. Discourse shapes people's understanding of what is true and what is not, and thus discloses relations of power. The memory of Temple rituals, the subject of much of Yosse ben Yosse's works, is the site of competing claims to authentic leadership and for authority to articulate binding religious-social ideas and practices. Ms. Mayer is interested in the social function of Piyyutic texts, with particular emphasis on the way various groups in 5th century Palestinian Jewish society renegotiated the fundamental building blocks of national identity and of religious practice.
Calogero A. Miceli is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. Religion program at Concordia University. His research and interests are in New Testament, Apocryphal New Testament literature, and narrative studies of biblical texts.Calogero has published several articles in peer-reviewed academic journals in each of these areas. His dissertation, funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQSC), will study the literary and historical tradition of the 'neaniskos' (young man) figure mentioned in the Gospel According to Mark.
Alexander Nachaj is a full-time Ph.D. student at Concordia University in the Department of Religion. His primary research interest is on masculinity as a religious medium. He is currenlty examining the lives of male religious figures (notably saints) in the Catholic tradition and how their hagiographies construct and portray religious masculinity and make it present for their devotees in the modern era. As of fall 2014, Alexander is also the editor-in-chief of Concordia's Journal of Religion and Culture.
Ming Hui Pan's subject is about the history of Judaism in China in general and the history of the Harbin Jewish Community in particular, which was the largest Russian Jewish community in China before WWII. Her research will emphasize the religious and cultural encounter between the two oldest nations - Jews and Chinese. Her interest is comparative studies of different religious imaginations, experiences, and practices.
BJ Purdie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion. His interests include popular religious movements, Daoism, and Confucianism in China, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora. He completed his M.A. degree at the University of Calgary where his focus was on the experience of Chinese Buddhists in Western Canada. His current research centres around the deification of historic figures in China, their popularity in overseas Chinese communities, and the conspicuous absence of these popular cults in Western scholarship.
Purna Roy is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Religions and Cultures. She holds a M.A. in Modern (Indian) History with a specialization in the Economic History of Bengal in the Colonial Period from the University of Calcutta. She holds a second Masters degree in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a thesis titled "Situational Storytelling Traditions in Bengal (India) for Children and Young Adults: An Ethnographic Study".
Her primary research is on analysing ritual performances and gendered aspects of Hindu-goddess-centered religious traditions in Bengal (India), using an ethnographic lens. She is also committed to the study of pilgrimage and tourism in South Asia, material culture and religious art, and literary methods and approaches.
Dragos Stoica is a doctoral candidate whose areas of study include modern Islamic thought, comparative fundamentalism, political and religious radicalism, political theology and comparative hermeneutics. Mr. Stoica has published articles and interviews in the Romanian editions of "Foreign Policy", "The Sphere of Politics" and "Dilemma", and also in "Politics, Religion and Ideology" (UK) and "The Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory" (US). Mr. Stoica is a recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship and is currently working on a disseration focused on a comparative analysis of Sayyid Qutb's political theology. Mr. Stoica also taught political theory at the University of Bucharest and he is an active member of the American Academy of Religion and of the Middle East Studies Association. Mr. Stoica has had the following articles published: "Reading Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in Rural Quebec, or Saving "Exotic" Women from "Exotic Men": The Construction of the Religious Subaltern in Light of the 2007 Herouxville Incident" in Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory; and "Do Modern Radicals Believe in Their Mythologies" A Comparison between the Muslim Brotherhood & the Legion of the Archangel Michael. ... the Legion of the Archangel Michael in the Light of Four Political Mythologies" published in Politics, Religion & Ideology.
Alexandra Black completed her BA in Anthropolgy with a minor in Religion at Concordia University, and is currently pursuing her MA in the Department of Religions and Cultures. While her interests still remain in anthropology, she hopes to pursue contemporary topics on the relationship between religion and culture with a focus on the influence of Christianity and Buddhism in East Asian cultures.
Ashely Crouch is currently enrolled in the M.A. History and Philosophy of Religion at Concordia. She completed her Honors BA in Religious Studies, with a double minor in anthropology and psychology, at Saint Mary's University, Halifax. Her current research, supported through funding by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) examines social media's impact on interfaith dialogue and activism. Her areas of interest are interfaith dialogue, religion and politics, social movements, media, and gender studies.
Dorota Dejneka is a current MA student of History and Philosophy of Religion. She holds a BA in Ethnolinguistics with a specialization in Persian language from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland as well as a B.A. in Religious Studies with a specialization in Islam and a minor in Iranian Studies from Concordia University. During her MA program she continues to focus on Shiite Islam and Iranian culture. In particular, her interest lies in contemporary Twelver Shiite thought of Iranian intellectuals and their application of rationalism in dealing with modernity and Islamic reform.
Jacob Guillon is an M.A. student in the Department of Religions and Cultures at Concordia University. He is invested in researching rural Hindu, Islamic, and Sikh communities and their traditions in the Punjab prior to and following partition in 1947. The dynamic interplay between these traditions is intricate and it is his intention to explore how such interplay has evolved in both Pakistan and India's rural Punjab.
Tirza Harris completed her BA Honours in Classical Studies at Bishop's University, and is currently enrolled in the MA Religions and Cultures program at Concordia University. Her research interests include the Christian communities of the 2nd and 3rd centuries and the formation of their rituals and identity in a Roman milieu, Coptic monasticism and asceticism, and early Christian Apocryphal literature. She is familiar with classical Greek and Latin, and is especially fond of the portrayal of punishment and reward in the Apocalypses of Peter and Paul, medieval Christian mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, and the contemporary Christian ecological movement.
Camellia Jahanshahi graduated from Concordia University in 2015 with a degree in Religious Studies. In her time away she has been living in New York and working a multitude of jobs while developing both her career as a religious educator in the Unitarian Universalist tradition and her career in the visual and performance arts worlds. Her interests lie in international politics, interfaith dialogue, social justice initiatives, the effects of religion on pop culture, gender studies and the arts.
Gisoo Kim is an M.A. student in the Department of Religions and Cultures. He completed his undergraduate degree at Concordia University with a major in Religion (with a focus on Christianity and Islam) and a minor in Political Science. His main interest is exploring the relationship between religion and pop culture, specifically the use of religious symbolism and lore in video games. Specifically documenting the motivation and use of religious ideals in video games and how it may reflect perception of religion to those who interact with this pop culture medium. Highlighting that video games may not only act as a social commentary but may also feed the exociticsm and fantasization of religion.
Nicola Morry is currently pursuing an MA in the History and Philosophy of Religion Program at Concordia University as well as an M.Ed. at the Universite de Sherbrooke. Having completed an Honours BA at McGill University in Asian Religions with a minor in Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Nicola's research interests include menstrual prohibitions and menarche rituals in all religious traditions, but particularly in Hinduism.
Lori is a first year graduate student in the Department of Religions and Cultures. She completed her undergraduate degree at Concordia University in 2015 witha BFA in Art History and Studio Art and a minor in Religion. Her current focus is on material culture of Asian religions including an interest in visual representation, art, and film.
Yosef Robinson has a B.A. in Geography from Rutgers University, a Master in City and Regional Planning from Ohio State University, and a Master in Environment from Concordia University. He is soon wrapping up his Master in Religion at Concordia University, expecting to finish in late 2017. He is interested in the history of early 20th-century Jewish life in Montreal.
Chloe Collier is currently enrolled in the MA History and Philosophy of Religion degree at Concordia. She recently completed her undergraduate degree with Honours in Religious Studies at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. Her undergraduate thesis examined the use of apocalyptic discourse in speeches made by American presidents in times of crisis in order for them to mobilize public support for aggressive warfare abroad. While her main interest continues to include American Civil Religion and its influence on policy making, during her masters degree she wishes to extend her expertise beyond this to include Islamic politics as well in order to better understand the current dynamics of global politics and religion.
Amanda Mormina recently completed her undergraduate degree at Concordia in Religion (with a focus on Islam) and a minor in Arabic language and culture. Her main focus will continue to be the Islamic tradition and to a lesser extent Christianity. Her interest in particular is the process of the cultural and religious integration of the population that has recently immigrated from the Arab world following the global refugee crisis.
Tiawenti:non Canadian received her undergraduate degree in Religion with a minor in English from Concordia University. Her research interests lie in the effects of institutional oppression and violence on religious expression. Her proposed thesis, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) will examine the contemporary perceptions of Christianity and the Catholic, Presbyterian, and United Churches amongst First Nations Residential School Survivors and their descendants in Canada. She hopes to get a better understanding of the current function of Christian institutions in First Nations communities that have been heavily affected by the assimilatory system. Tiawenti:non's other academic interests include Religion and Literature, Ancient Judaism, and the Hebrew Bible.