CURA Fellows 2023-2024

CURA: The Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs

Have you met our fellows? We think they’re pretty spectacular. They’re working at the forefront of scholarship on culture, religion, and international affairs. We encourage you to read their publications, reach out to them over email, and help spread the word about their current and upcoming research.

FELLOWS 2023-2024

Zachary Mondesire

Assistant Professor, Pardee School of Global Studies

Zachary Mondesire is Assistant Professor of IR in the Pardee School and a socio-cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on how transnational geopolitics become elements of everyday life. His research focuses on the intersection of race, gender, and religion in Africa as well as the institutional legacy of Pan-Africanism. Recent publications include “On Pan‐Africanism and Secession: Thinking Anti‐Colonialism from South Sudan.”

Tyler J. Fuller

PhD Candidate, Department of Religion

Tyler J. Fuller is a PhD Candidate in the Religion in Philosophy, Politics and Society area of specialization in the Graduate Program in Religion at Boston University. His research interests focus on the social scientific study of religion, health-seeking behaviors, and faith-based health education and promotion. He recently published the article “The Impact of Religious Participation and Religious Upbringing on The Sexual Behavior of Emerging Adults in The Southern United States.”

Taylor C. Boas

Professor, Department of Political Science

Taylor Boas is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Boston University. He is author of Evangelicals and Electoral Politics in Latin America: A Kingdom of This World (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

His current research project looks at how religion influences the political attitudes of Latin American migrants to the United States.

Sarah Riccardi-Swartz

Assistant Professor of Religion and Anthropology, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Northeastern University

Sarah Riccardi-Swartz is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Anthropology at Northeastern University. An interdisciplinary scholar, she is trained as a historian, ethnographer, and filmmaker of American religion.  She is the author of Between Heaven and Russia: Religious Conversion and Political Authority in Appalachia (Fordham University Press, 2022).

Radha Sarkar

PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, Yale University

Radha Sarkar’s research interests are inspired by contemporary developments in Latin American and South Asian politics, and are centered on questions of religion and politics. Among her recent publications is “Blueprints for Red Insurgencies: Revolutionary Ideology and Strategy in India and Colombia.”

Nicholas Covaleski

PhD Candidate, Department of Religion

Nicholas is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Religion at Boston University. His dissertation explores the intersections of religion, public ethics, and science and technology in the United States, focusing on space travel, genetics, and computer science. His recently published an article is “Dementia and the Boundaries of Secular Personhood.”

Laura Anne Thompson

Visiting Assistant Professor, Boston University

An anthropologist of religion, Dr. Laura Thompson specializes in Islam in North Africa and works on the intersection of affect, the law, and the sacred. She is currently preparing her dissertation for publication and is completing an article on routine, low-level blasphemy prosecutions in present-day Tunisian tribunals. She recently published a book chapter “Protecting Muslims’ Feelings, Protecting Public Order: Tunisian Blasphemy Cases from the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries” in Demystifying the Sacred.

Lance D. Laird

Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine

Dr. Lance Laird is Assistant Director of the MS Program in Medical Anthropology & Cross-Cultural Practice.

His research at Boston University has focused on multiple intersections of Muslim identity with healing professions and public health in the US. Among his most recent publications is “Encountering God, accompanying others: Spirituality and theology among Muslim health care chaplains.”

Judith Ellen Brunton

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

Judith Ellen Brunton is a scholar of religious studies and the environmental humanities, currently at Harvard University as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Canada Program at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

Judith is broadly interested in energy, land and labor, secularity and enchantment, religion-making, and methods in the North American West. She recently defended her dissertation, “Pandemonium of Hope: Oil, Aspiration, and the Good Life in Alberta.”

Jaira Koh

PhD Student, School of Theology

Jaira is a PhD student in theology and philosophy at Boston University. His research is interested in the critical interactions between the utopianisms of Liberation Theology and Marxist-Feminist social reproduction theory, and in theological approaches to the paradox of locating the revolutionary new in the domain of political economy which reproduces the existing. He received his M.Div from Boston University in 2021, and his B.A. in Media Studies from Pomona College in 2017.

Ethan Michael Key

PhD Candidate, History

Ethan Key is a PhD candidate in History from Chattanooga, Tennessee whose area of research is in the Horn of Africa. His MA thesis at Georgia State University focused on the role of Onesimos Nasib as Protestant Christian teacher and translator of the Bible into afaan Oromo. His PhD research continues this research by considering multiple forms of translation – between languages, cultures, and worldviews – during the late nineteenth-century expansion and early twentieth-century consolidation of the Ethiopian Empire.

David Siddhartha Patel

Research Fellow, Middle East Initiative, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

David Siddhartha Patel’s research focuses on religious authority, social order, identity, and state-building in the contemporary Middle East. His recent book, Order Out of Chaos: Islam, Information, and the Rise and Fall of Social Orders in Iraq (Cornell University Press, 2022), examines the role of mosques and clerical networks in generating order after state collapse and is based upon independent field research he conducted in Basra.

David Glovsky

Assistant Professor, Department of History

David Glovsky is Assistant Professor of African History at Boston University. He is a historian of 19th and 20th century West Africa, with a focus on Muslim parts of Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea. His most recent article is “Cross-Border Lives and the Complications of Citizenship: Migration, Belonging, and Alternative Geographies in the Borderlands of Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, and Senegal, 1958–1980.”

Dane Scott

PhD Student, Department of Religion

Dane is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Program in Religion specializing in the religions of the ancient Mediterranean. His areas of interest are Greek and Roman religions, early Christianities, contemporary paganism, and ritual and materiality theory. His particular focus is on the role of the image and visuality in shaping religious practices in the ancient world. 

Callid Keefe-Perry

Assistant Professor of Contextual Education and Public Theology, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Callid Keefe-Perry is Assistant Professor of Contextual Education and Public Theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. His scholarship engages themes of public theology, critical pedagogy, moral injury, and theologies of imagination and theopoetics. His most recent book is Sense of the Possible: An Introduction to Theology and Imagination.

Ateeb Gul

Doctoral student (Islamic Studies), Department of Religion

His research interests include Sirah literature (biographies of the Prophet Muhammad), Islam in South Asia, and Islamic law and legal theory. In 2020, he received the Mother Board Writing Prize from the Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality consortium based at MIT. He recently published a book chapter, “Juxtaposition, Tension, Play: The Development of Islamic Law and Legal Theory” in New Methods in the Study of Islam. 

Aimee M. Genell

Assistant Professor of History, Pardee School of Global Studies

Aimee Genell is an Assistant Professor of History at the Pardee School. Her research focuses on the history of the late Ottoman Empire and its entanglements with Europe in the arena of international law. Her manuscript, “Empire by Law: The Ottoman Origins of the Mandate System in the Middle East” (under contract, Columbia University Press), traces the Ottoman roots of the post-imperial political order through an analysis of the inter-imperial contest over autonomous Egypt in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her recent publications include “On Empire and Exception: Genealogies of Sovereignty in the Ottoman World” in Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle 

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