Get to Know the 2012-13 WSRP Research Associates

September 20, 2012
Get to Know the 2012-13 WSRP Research Associates

The Women's Studies in Religion Program (WSRP) at Harvard Divinity School has a brand-new crop of Research Associates for the 2012-13 academic year. Below, read a little bit about their backgrounds, academic interests, and research while at HDS. 

Gemma Betros
Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and European History

Gemma Betros

Gemma Betros is Lecturer in Modern European History at the Australian National University. She graduated from the University of Queensland with first-class honors in history and completed her master's and PhD at the University of Cambridge, where she was a student at Peterhouse.

Recent research interests include representations of Catholicism in the work of French novelist Adélaïde de Souza (1761-1836) and the Parisian convent of the Nouvelles Catholiques, dedicated to the conversion of Protestant women in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. She is also working on a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte for Routledge's Historical Biographies series.

During her time as a Research Associate with the Women's Studies in Religion Program, Betros will be adapting her PhD for publication as a monograph. This book will examine the suppression of female religious communities in Paris during the French Revolution and their partial revival under Napoleon Bonaparte.

In spring 2013, she will teach the course 'Power, Politics, and the Female Religious Life.'

Kristin Bloomer
Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and South Asian Religions and WSRP Research Associate 

Kristen Bloomer

Kristin Bloomer is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. She teaches courses on religion and the body, world Christianities, religions of South Asia, and women's and gender studies. She has a BA from Wesleyan University, an MFA from the University of Montana, a BA and MA from Cambridge University, and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago.

Her research pertains to Hinduism, Roman Catholicism, and spirit possession in postcolonial south India. Her more general interests lie in exploring historically specific articulations of subjectivity, with particular attention to religiosity, gender, ritual, and embodiment. Her book manuscript, 'Possessed by Mary: Hinduism, Catholicism, and Spirit Possession in Contemporary Tamil Nadu, South India,' is an ethnography of Marian spirit possession in India's most southeastern state.

This fall semester she is teaching the class 'Altered States: Spirit Possession, Modernity, and Other Dangerous Crossings.'

Judith Casselberry
Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and African American Religions and WSRP Research Associate

Judith Casselberry

Judith Casselberry is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Bowdoin College, teaching courses on African American women's religious history, music and spirituality in popular culture, music and social movements, and issues in Black intellectual thought. She has held visiting appointments at Wesleyan University, Barnard College, Vassar College, and New York University. She received the bachelor of music from Berklee College of Music, MA from Wesleyan University, and PhD from Yale University (2008).

Casselberry's interest in links between lettered and performed scholarship comes from her career as an academic and performer. As a vocalist/guitarist, she currently performs with Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely and has enjoyed a career as an international recording artist with Casselberry-DuPreé and JUCA. She has shared stages with Sweet Honey in the Rock, Odetta, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, and Elvis Costello, among others. She is currently consultant for the forthcoming documentary by Yoruba Richen, 'The New Black,' which uncovers the complicated relationships between African-American and LGBT civil rights movements and the black church and anti-gay Christian right wing.

She is currently completing an ethnography entitled 'Justified by Works: Gender, Faith, and Power in Black Apostolic Pentecostalism,' which examines New York religious women's spiritual, material, social, and organizational work through the lens of black women's labor theories. In addition to research on organized Pentecostalism, she is working on a project examining Grace Jones's transnational Pentecostal roots and their imprint on her performance aesthetics and identity.

She is teaching 'Black Women and Global Pentecostalism' during the fall 2012 semester.

Hauwa Ibrahim
Visiting Lecturer on Women's Studies and Islamic Law and WSRP Research Associate

Hauwa Ibrahim

Hauwa Ibrahim is a senior partner at Aries Law Firm. Working as a lead attorney with a team devoted to the cause of human rights for women in Nigeria, she has won a number of precedent-setting cases before Islamic Shariah courts. Ibrahim has been a Visiting Professor at Saint Louis University School of Law and Stonehill College, a World Fellow at Yale University, a Radcliffe fellow, and a fellow at both the Human Rights Program and the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard University.

Her research has led to a book draft, 'Practicing Law in Shariah Courts: Seven Strategies,' which is currently being prepared for publication and dissemination to legal practitioners who have responsibility for interpreting Shariah law.

Ibrahim has earned an LLB and a master's in international law and diplomacy from the University of Jos in Nigeria; a BL for legal practice from Nigeria Law School; and a master of laws degree in international studies at American University's Washington College of Law. In addition, she has been awarded three honorary doctorates, as well as the Cavaliere Award, the Highest Human Rights Award from the Italian Government.

She will teach 'Women, Justice, and Sharia in Nigeria' in spring 2013.

Lori K. Pearson
Visiting Associate Professor of Women's Studies, Theology, and Philosophy and WSRP Research Associate

Lori Pearson

Lori K. Pearson is Associate Professor of Religion at Carleton College. She earned her MTS and her ThD from Harvard Divinity School, and her BA from St. Olaf College in philosophy and religion. She is a specialist in the history of Christian theology with particular interests in nineteenth-century German Protestant thought, modern philosophy of religion, historicism, race, and feminist theory. She is chair of the Nineteenth-Century Theology Group of the American Academy of Religion.

She is interested in the relation between Christian theology and theories of religion in the modern period. Her research has focused concepts of tradition, modernity, and the secular in the long nineteenth century.

Pearson is currently at work on a book project on religion and social theory in the work of Marianne Weber (1870-1954), today remembered as wife of Max Weber but known in her own time as an influential public intellectual and a leader of the moderate wing of the women's movement in Germany in the early 1900s.

She is currently teaching the class 'Gender, Authority, and Domination in Modern Theologies and Theories of Religion.'

Zilka Spahić Šiljak
Visiting Lecturer on Women's Studies and Islamic Studies and WSRP Research Associate

Zilka Spahic Siljak

Zilka Spahić Šiljak is deputy director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Studies at the University of Sarajevo. She holds a master's degree in human rights and democracy, jointly conferred by the University of Bologna and the University of Sarajevo, and a PhD in gender studies from the University of Novi Sad. As a research scholar and public intellectual, Šiljak also draws upon more than a decade of experience in the higher education and nongovernmental sectors in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Šiljak's research and activism focuses on the nexus of human rights, religion, politics, education, gender, and peace-building. She has previously taught on these topics at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Oslo, and the University of Vienna, among others.

While at the Women's Studies in Religion Program, Šiljak will complete a book manuscript on women's role in peace-building in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Drawing upon life story interviews with women peacemakers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, this project explores the sociopolitical and cultural challenges they faced, as well as the successes they achieved, while re-rebuilding peaceful relations in a postwar, ethnically divided society.

She will teach the class 'Women, Spirituality, and Peace' during the spring 2013 semester.