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Stephen Prothero & Kecia Ali in BU Today

November 10th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

President Trump: What Will He Do?
BU experts weigh in on portents of 2016 election

Donald Trump claimed victory Tuesday in the presidential election; BU experts offer their views on what his presidency might mean. Photo by Getty Images

Donald Trump claimed victory Tuesday in the presidential election; BU experts offer their views on what his presidency might mean. Photo by Getty Images


Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion, College of Arts & Sciences

The election revealed on one level what we already knew—that the country is deeply divided over the culture wars question that has bedeviled us since the beginning of the republic: Who is and who is not a true American? Many white voters turned their back on a Democratic Party that for two decades has turned its back on the working class, staking claim to their Americanness by voting for a candidate who would exile Muslims, Mexicans, and African Americans from the American family. Read more…

Muslim Americans

Kecia Ali, Associate Professor of Religion, CAS; past president, Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics

Trump’s victory bodes extremely ill for American Muslims, not only for what damage he may do while in office, but also for what it says about the majority of white Americans. The conjoining of racism, sexism, and Islamophobia in his campaign rhetoric was unprecedented. By loudly and proudly espousing sentiments, policies, and acts that had previously been off-limits in polite political circles, he opens the way for government officials and private citizens to do the same, with increasing impunity. Read more…

“Muslim Thought and Practice in South Asia: New Practices and Directions”

October 19th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

We are pleased to announce a very exciting upcoming conference here at Boston University to be held on October 27th and 28th:

Flyer copy[3]

Thursday, October 27th (5:15pm): Keynote Address by Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton University, on “Islam in Modern South Asia: Continuity and Change since the Early 20th Century India”

Location: 121 Bay State Rd., Boston, MA 02215

Friday, October 28th (10:00 – 5:00pm): Panel Discussions

Tolerance and Pluralism
Translation and Historiography
Ethics and Materiality
Location: 147 Bay State Rd., Boston, MA 02115, Room 202

A full schedule of events is attached.

Campus map and directions:

This event is supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities, Muslim Studies, CURA, and AIPS, and is free and open to the public.

Please RSVP to by Monday, October 24th.

BUCSA Director’s Seminar and EAAF Talk Event: Prof. April D. Hughes

October 18th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

Maitreya’s Terrestrial Paradise: Medieval Mural Paintings at Dunhuang

Thursday Oct. 20, 2016 12:15-1:30 pm 

at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, 121 Bay State Road
HUGHES, April EAAF poster for 10.20.16[2]

The Department of Religion mourns the loss of Elie Wiesel.

July 18th, 2016 in Uncategorized.


Yesterday, on the second day of the month of Sivan in the year 5776 (July 2, 2016), on a Sabbath, Elie Wiesel passed away in his Manhattan home. He was 87 years old. He is survived by his wife Marion, his son Elisha, a step-daughter, and two grandchildren. As colleagues and students of Elie Wiesel who taught at Boston University from 1976 until 2013, we are deeply saddened by his passing. We are also humbled by these many years of his regular presence on campus, his teaching and his friendship. This is a great loss for Boston University and the greater Boston area, where many felt they had a special connection to the author, speaker, and “witness to humanity” that he was.

The fact of his passing was transported around the world almost instantaneously, and one can read about his life and work in the many obituaries that have begun to appear. The world remembers him as a Holocaust survivor who felt compelled to bear witness and did so in exemplary ways. As Joseph Berger writes in the New York Times, Elie Wiesel filled a void; his memoire Night, appeared at a time when trauma and survivor’s guilt plagued the victims and denial silenced the perpetrators. As Michael Berenbaum notes in the Forward, Elie’s literary voice helped to transform victims into witnesses and allowed the children of perpretrators to confront the past.

With international recognition came visibility and greater responsibility. As a Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel spoke out for Soviet Jewry and used his visibility to draw public attention to atrocities and human rights violations on every continent.

Elie Wiesel joined BU in 1976 where he served as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy and Religion. He retired from this position in 2013, a year after after the death of BU president John Silber, who had brought him to BU. Elie gave his last public annual lectures in the fall of 2012, shortly after Silber’s death. During his time at BU, Elie Wiesel taught every fall, two courses on Literature and Memory. Only once in thirty five years of teaching did he teach a course on the Holocaust and he disliked it so much, he never tried again. Elie’s long-time assistant Martha Hauptman was the one who fielded student applications and vetted the teaching assistants. Taking a course with Elie Wiesel was the highlight of many students’ experience at Boston University. Students described their experience in his classroom in essays that were published in 2014 by the Elie Wiesel Center under the title Take a Teacher, Make a Friend: Students Write for Elie Wiesel. The contributors to this volume include a German Catholic theologian, a computer engineer and his daughter, a rabbi and a classics professor, a poet and a cantor, a professor of medicine and a speech pathologist, a professor of Italian literature and another rabbi, a theater director and a medievalist, a professor of constitutional law and a singer, a physicist/science editor and a thanatologist, a self-declared groupie and a scholar of Hasidism, two doctoral students (one from China) and another historian. This range speaks for itself.

At Boston University, Professor Wiesel held faculty positions in Religion and Philosophy and he lectured to the CAS Core Curriculum. But it is the title of Professor in the Humanities that indicates what his teaching was about. When the late John Silber brought Elie Wiesel to BU, he brought not just a prolific author but an eminently humane voice to Boston, to teach us and the wider community something about the humanities that required the special qualifications that he saw in Elie Wiesel.

Part of this legacy at BU is the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. The fact that it exists is a testament to the friendship between Elie Wiesel and John Silber, who had been Boston University’s president for only five years when he persuaded Elie to join. Their friendship not only brought Wiesel to Boston, but kept him here for all these years, and it finally persuaded him to link his name indelibly with the University. Our task now is to live up to Elie’s legacy and follow his example of an existential commitment of the teacher to bearing witness, to bring to life the joy of Jewish text and tradition, and to make sure we remember the Holocaust, to speak for victims everywhere and don’t allow ourselves to be silenced. We are proud and humbled to have known Elie Wiesel as a colleague and friend. May his memory be for a blessing!

Michael Zank
Director, The Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies

Teena Purohit promoted to Associate Professor

June 2nd, 2016 in Uncategorized.

Purohit bioPurohit studies the history of Islam, focusing on conceptions of religion in modern Islam and the impact of colonialism on modern Muslim intellectual thought. Her first book, The Aga Khan Case: Religion and Identity in Colonial India (Harvard University Press, 2012), was critically acclaimed. An expert in Sanskrit and Urdu, she is currently working on a second book, Making Islam Modern.

The Department of Religion welcomes April Hughes

May 6th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

Hughes, April - website photoThe Department of Religion welcomes our new Chinese Religions scholar, April Hughes.  Hughes received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and has been an assistant professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane since 2014.  Her research interests include early Chinese Buddhism and apocalyptic themes in Chinese religion.  She will begin offering courses in Asian religions this fall.

The study of religion and others’ religions is increasingly important all over the globe.

April 26th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

Religious studies can keep secularism alive in India

Mark Tully
Updated: Apr 24, 2016 11:21 IST

 Madarsa education can be upgraded to include various branches of Islamic theology (HT)

Madarsa education can be upgraded to include various branches of Islamic theology (HT)

Recently Oxford University’s Faculty of Theology and Religion caused something of a sensation when it was reported that its undergraduate students would not have to study Christianity. As often happens in this sort of situation, on reading the small print, it transpired that students would have to study Christianity in their first year but not thereafter. Nevertheless, this decision demonstrates how far religious teaching at Oxford is prepared to stray from its roots in the Church of England in order to keep up with the times. A member of the faculty said, “We want to offer to potential students what is interesting for them and that has changed a lot in the last 30 years.” read more……

4/15/16: Adam Seligman & Rahel Wasserfall at Harvard Book Store

April 13th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

Harvard Book Store presents 
Adam Seligman & Rahel Wasserfall
Join us at Harvard Book Store on Friday, April 15th at 3:00pm, when Professor of Religion at Boston University and CEDAR director Adam B. Seligman and Director of Training and Evaluation for CEDAR Rahel R. Wasserfall discuss their book Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World, co-authored with David MontgomeryLearn more here. A book signing will follow the discussion.
Can’t make it to the event? Order a signed book for in-store pickup or shipment throughout the United States. 
Find details below, and explore more upcoming Harvard Book Store events at

Friday, April 15 at 3:00pm
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA, 02138
Learn more here
Harvard Book Store 1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138 | 617.661.1515 |
This is an occasional e-mail update on upcoming author events that we thought you might find of interest!

Michael Zank: Two States One Homeland

March 15th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

I just returned from London, where I participated in a seminar convened by Lord Stone of Blackheath on a two-year old grassroots peace initiative for Israel and Palestine called Two States, One Homeland (TSOH). You can find a longer report on this meeting HERE. In addition to the two founders of this initiative, Tel Aviv-based Israeli journalist Meron Rappoport and Bethlehem-based Palestinian activist Awni al-Mashni who joined via Skype, there were about forty people in the Archbishop’s room at Millbank House, which houses offices and meeting spaces serving the UK House of Lords. Participants included potential funders, facilitators, foundation directors, and specialists in a variety of aspects that the convener thought would be useful and ought to be drawn on in helping the initiative to move forward more robustly. I joined this session because I had met Meron, Awni and Avner Haramati, a social entrepreneur who facilitated the London meeting, before. (I wrote about this meeting HERE.) Read more…….

Thursday, March 24th: Department of Religion Annual Lecture

February 19th, 2016 in Uncategorized.

Caroline Walker Bynum

Holy Beds and Holy Families: Encounters with Devotional Objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Boston University Department of Religion Annual Lecture and the Program in Scripture and the Arts are proud to present Caroline Walker Bynum, from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study. Professor Bynum is a preeminent scholar in the field of Medieval Christian Studies, and her work has been instrumental in introducing the concept of gender into the study of medieval Christianity. In her lecture, on March 24, 2016 at 5:30 PM, she will present material thematically linked to her most recent publication, Christian  Materiality. At an exhibit in Detroit fifty-five years ago, a much loved beguine cradle on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum was treated simply as a piece of furniture. But at the Met, the cradle, which once held a Christ child laid in it by the religious women in whose community it stood, points the viewer toward other works related to the holy family, all on display nearby but not usually considered together. Interpreting these devotional objects in their social and devotional context, Professor Bynum will argue that medieval images—both literary and material—evoked, even compelled, a far more complex, nuanced, and even contradictory sense of the holy than much recent work on materiality suggests.

email-Bynum Event Flyer - March 24, 2016