Laurel Andrew is a doctoral student at Concordia University. Laurel's research interests include the history of Christianity, feminism and sexual ethics in the United States and Canada, with a specific focus on the intersections of reproductive justice and Christianity from the 1960s to the present day. She holds an M.A. in Religious Studies and Gender Studies from McGill University.
Joseph Brito is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religions and Cultures. His PhD dissertation focuses on Paul's metaphors and language on Slavery. He holds a BTh and MA from the Université de Montréal. Other fields of interest include New Testament studies, apocryphal gospels, synchronic methodologies, literary studies, media-theories, early Christianity, postcolonial theories, and gender student. His dissertation is funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec Société 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.
Colby is currently enrolled in the PhD in Religions and Cultures at Concordia and has recently completed an MA in Indigenous & Interreligious Studies at Vancouver School of Theology. Their master's thesis explores late eighteenth-century Acadian women's roles in popular religious culture in southwestern Nova Scotia. As such, Colby's research interests follow gender and sexuality in religion, and manifestation of colonial Catholicism and its interactions with Indigenous spiritualities. Other interests include queer saints, Kabbalah, Vaishnava bhakti, and monasticism.
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).
Phil's work centers on the Hindu deity, Ardhanārīśvara. Ardhanārīśvara is a composite figure; its body is split into male and female halves by a vertical axis. Present academic works have focused on the iconography, mythological narratives, and philosophical interpretations of Ardhanārīśvara. However, scholarship has largely omitted content concerning Ardhanārīśvara 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 Ardhanārīśvara temples at this time. His Ph.D. project aims to do a comprehensive ethnographic study of these additional dedicated sites in order to create a more robust treatment of the figure.
Catherine Leisser was admitted to the Ph.D. program in Fall 2015. She obtained 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). Having finished all coursework, Catherine is now working on her comprehensive exams. She looks forward to investigating the archaeological aspects of religious life (worship, ritual) 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 Religions and Cultures. His dissertation is focused on the figure of Fulton J. Sheen and the intersections of American Catholicism, masculinities, sanctity and hagiography. From Fall 2014-Winter 2018, Alexander was 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.
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.
Ibrahim Abou Arab is entering his second year as a graduate student and completed his undergraduate degree at Concordia University in 2017. He completed a double major in Religions and Cultures, focusing on Islam and Christianity, and in Child Studies, Department of Education. He is interested in various Islamic topics such as history, development of law, and theology. His current focus is on the Wahhabi movement which started in Arabia towards the end of the 18th century. More specifically, he examines how the role of the writings of Abdul-Wahhab played in shaping the Muslim identity. In the near future, he plans on researching Islamic militant movements, there methods of recruitment and their target audience.
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.
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 received her BA Honours in Classical Studies from Bishop's University in 2016, and is completing her MA in the Religions and Cultures program at Concordia University. Tirza's primary research is based in the Late Antique and Medieval periods of Christianity. Here she focuses largely on the ways that communities organize themselves and create their identities through confluence of doctrine, rituals, ethics, personal piety, pilgrimage, and ascetic practices.
Tirza is especially interested in Apocryphal literature and the portrayal of punishment and reward in the Christian apocalypses, Mariology and all things concerned with Marian devotion, and the contemporary ecological movement and the extent to which the Christian tradition can be reclaimed to encourage an ethical relationship between people and the earth.
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.
T. Scarlet Jory is a student in the MA Religions and Cultures program at Concordia University. Under her are two previous BA degrees. The first is a BA major in Classical Studies with a minor in Anthropology. The second is a BA Honors with Distinction in Religion with a plethora of courses in Education and Adult Education. She also holds certificates in Graphic Design, Journalism, and Technical Communication. Her foci in her MA degree are East Asian Religions (namely Taoism, Buddhism, and Zen) and Contemporary Paganism as a New Religious Movement. She has guest lectured at Dawson College, Marianopolis College, Champlain College, and Concordia University as well as gives interviews to media on the subjects of Contemporary Paganism. One of her favorite subjects is TEA, more specifically how tea is used in religious practices in Asia. She has presented on Tea and Zen at a few conferences now. She looks forward to expanding her research in this area for a large academic work. On the side, she teaches the public about Contemporary Paganism through workshops, engages in community leadership, and guides people through ritual experiences and rites of passage. She also teaches English Language arts to adults and children, along with novel writing. (https://scarlet-wordsmith.blogspot.ca/)
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.
Lori is a second year graduate student in the Department of Religions and Cultures. She completed her undergraduate degree at Concordia University in 2015 with a 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 of women's religious experiences. Lori's academic and professional goals include the study of religious art in the context of museum studies.
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.
Stefanos is an MA student and has completed his BA in Religions and Cultures at Concordia University in 2017. He enjoys writing both fiction and non-fiction. As an undergraduate he developed a background in Judaism and Christianity. In his graduate studies he has decided to focus academically on National Socialism. He is specifically interested in German Catholics, Nazi masculinity and the persecution of Jewish men and homosexuals. As part of his interest in these topics he has travelled to Germany, Austria and Poland and hopes to travel to Russia as well.