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Comparative Religion

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Comparative Religion Program Faculty News

Congratulations to Cabeiri deBergh Robinson, Associate Professor (Comparative Religion Program, and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington) was awarded the 2013-14 American Institute of Pakistan Studies Book Prize for her book, Body of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists.

Where do contemporary Muslim Jihadists come from? What are the conditions? Robinson worked in the borderlands between Pakistan and India, and looked at the lives of families shaped by a history of political conflict. And there, she found jihad as a personal struggle instead of a clash of civilizations. Robinson locates the lives of Kashmiri refugees within the region’s complex political history and within international definitions of refugees and human rights.

Robinson speaks Monday, April 8th at 7 PM at the University Bookstore 4326 University Way N.E



A big welcome to Mika Ahuvia who has joined the Jackson School faculty (Jewish Studies and the Comparative Religion programs)!

Mika was born in Kibbutz Beit Hashita in northern Israel. She researches the formative history of Jewish communities in the ancient Mediterranean world. Specializing in Late Antique Jewish history, she works with Rabbinic sources, liturgical poetry, magical texts, early mystical literature, and archaeological evidence. Her dissertation on angels in Jewish texts from the fourth to eighth century CE brings into view the spectrum of intermediate authoritative figures that ancient Jews appealed to including angels, ritual practitioners, legendary rabbis, and even the matriarchs.

She is fascinated by the daily life of ancient Jews and investigates the different ways they struck a balance between their local religious environment (whether Roman, Christian, or Zoroastrian) and biblical, rabbinic, and other Jewish traditions.
She co-authored an article with John Gager on the portrayal of Mary the mother of Jesus in the Toledot Yeshu, an early medieval Jewish satire of the gospels. There she paid careful attention to the sympathy shown Mary in the Jewish sources and how it might reflect broader Jewish interest in the figure of a messianic mother. In another article in Jewish and Christian Cosmogony in Late Antiquity, Mika analyzes depictions of the abyss in late antique church mosaics in the Transjordan region and the Near Eastern, Greco-Roman, as well as Jewish and Christian sources that may have inspired emphasis on this abstract concept.

Before coming to Princeton University, Mika graduated with a BA in Classical Studies from Rollins College and an MA in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan. Her Honor’s thesis was on the architectural context of the mithraeum in the Roman Empire and her master’s thesis was on Jewish burial customs in Late Antique Palestine. Mika has participated in archaeological excavations with Oxford University at Alchester Roman Fort (England), with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, at the Roman Fort at Yotvata (southern Israeli desert), and with the University of Michigan at Tel Kedesh (northern Israel). She was a fellow at Yeshivat Hadar in the summer of 2011 and spent the 2011-12 year as a visiting student at Tel Aviv University, in the department of Hebrew Culture Studies. Mika was the recipient of the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Jewish Studies (2013-14). She was also a graduate research fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University (2013-14).  

Professor Michael Williams recently published two articles with a third to appear soon:

“Life and Happiness in the ‘Platonic Underworld,’” Pp. 497-523 in: Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World: Essays in Honour of John D. Turner. Edited by Kevin Corrigan and Tuomas Rasimus, in collaboration with Dylan M. Burns, Lance Jenott and Zeke Mazur. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 82. (Leiden: Brill, 2013.

“Did Plotinus’s ‘Friends’ Still Go to Church?: Communal Rituals and Ascent Apocalypses,” Pages 495-522 in: Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy, and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Late Antique Literature: Essays in Honor of Birger A. Pearson. Edited by April DeConick, Gregory Shaw, John Turner, Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

“A Life Full of Meaning and Purpose: Demiurgical Myths and Social Implications,” in: Beyond the Gnostic Gospels: Studies Building on the Work of Elaine Pagels. Edited by Eduard Iricinschi, Lance Jenott, Nicola Denzey Lewis, and Philippa Townsend. Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck; publication of volume scheduled for early 2014).


Heidi Pauwels  published, "When a Sufi tells about Krishna’s Doom: The case of Kanhåvat (1540?)” (The Journal of Hindu Studies), a recent encyclopedia article “Rådhå”. And in Oxford Bibliographies Online, an article on Hinduism and  also participated in a workshop Ír¥mad Bhågvata-Påråyaˆa-Vidhi-Prakåß: an early modern poetry workshop?” at “Translating the Bhågavatapuråˆa” in Heidelberg, Germany. Heidi also published, “When a Sufi tells about Krishna’s Doom: The case of Kanhåvat (1540?)” in The Journal of Hindu Studies and From Vrindaban to Bollywood: Radha in Popular Hindi films. In: Harsha V. Dehejia. Radha: From Gopi to Goddess..

Among the several invited talks she presented 2013 was “Laila and Majnun from Kishangarh to Mewar?” for the Coomaraswamy Prize Panel: Responses to Molly Emma Atken’s “The Intelligence of Tradition” at the Association Asian Studies Annual Meeting in San Diego. 

Cabeiri Robinson's book, "Body of the Victim, Body of the Warrior" is now available on Amazon at 

Reviews and information on purchasing Profs. James K. Wellman and Clark Lombardi's book, "Religion and Human Security" is available at Amazon.


Heidi Pauwels' recent co-edited volume with Monika Horstmann, ed. Indian Satire in the Period of First Modernity. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz appeared last year.

"Rob Bell and a New American Christianity" (Abingdon Press) by Prof. James K. Wellman, Jr. is now available on Amazon

Alexander Hollman's book, "The Master of Signs: Signs and the Interpretation of Signs in Herodotus' Histories", appeared in June of this year.

Gary Martin's first book was published last October, "Multiple Originals: New Approaches to Hebrew Bible Textual Criticism," published by the Society of Biblical Literature, Text-Critical Studies. Gary is Full Time Lecturer in Near East Languages and Civilization.

Prof. Glennys Young's book, "The Communist Experience in the Twentieth Century: A Global History through Sources" was published in July 2011 by Oxford University Press.

Prof. Daniel Chirot published two books over the course of 2011: "Contentious Identities: Ethnic, Religious, and Nationalist Conflicts in Today's World" (New York and London: Routledge, 2011) and "How Societies Change"[completely rewritten edition of a book originally published in 1994] (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2011).

In 2011 Prof. Jim Wellman and newly minted Comparative Religion grad student, Randy Thompson published, “From the Social Gospel to Neoconservativism: Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. Volume 7, Article 6. The link is : and Professor Martin S. Jaffee published the 2nd edition of "Jews, Christians, Muslims: An Introduction to Monotheistic Religions" (Prentice Hall: 2011). Co-authors: Carlos Eire, John Corrigan, & Fred Denny.

Promotions, Travel, Presentations

James K. Wellman, Jr. was promoted to full professor in 2013.

Alexander Hollmann was promoted to Associate Professor last fall and Prof. Heidi Pawels traveled to India for research during July-August 2011 with an American Institute for Indian Studies senior fellowship. April 2011 she received Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for the project “Culture in Circulation in eighteenth-century North India” (archival research).

In 2011 Karl Potter, professor emeritus of philosophy and the Comparative Religion Program, was awarded a Padma Shri for 2011, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India usually awarded to citizens of India to recognize distinguished contribution in the arts, education, industry, literature, science, sports, medicine, social service, and public life.

Faculty member Christian Novetzke was given the "Most Inspirational Professor" award by the Greek Community of Sororities and Fraternities and elected the Vice President of the American Institute of Indian Studies in February 2011.

August 2010

     Mari Kim, who will teach RELIG 201 this fall, graduated from Brandeis University cum laude with a thesis exploring Kierkegaard's critique of the institutional church in Denmark. She received her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, graduated with her Master of Theology summa cum laude from Emory University and received the Fund for Theological Education North American Doctoral Fellows Award, a variety of research grants, and a full scholarship to do her Ph.D. with the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University.
      Kim's dissertation offers a cross-disciplinary theological construction that both draws upon and critiques dominant historical exegetical and theological insights found in the Abrahamic faith traditions regarding the Edenic narrative found in Genesis 3. Titled "Eros in Eden: A Praxis of Beauty in Genesis 3," it offers a new theological read of humanity's relationship to the benevolent divine underscoring humanity's identity as God-bearers called to be co-creators with a loving divine. She is currently serving her second term as chair of the Theology and Philosophy Section of the Pacific Northwest Regional American Academy of Religion.

July 8, 2010
Prof. James Wellman's book (Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest) cited by Mark Chaves in Duke Divinity School's Call and Response blog. Click here to read more

June 7, 2010 Presentation by Professor Charles (Biff) Keyes', "The Color of Politics: Thailand's Deep Crisis of Authority". To view please link here:

June 11, 2010

Prof. Noam Pianko's book "Zionism and the Roads Not Taken" (Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn) was published by Indiana University Press. For more about the book see

June 2010
Prof. James Wellman's research proposal "Getting High on God: Charisma, Ecstasy, and Power in American Megachurches" was awarded a Royalty Research Fund (RRF) support. A total of 113 proposals were submitted; only 29 will receive funding,

May 21, 2010
Prof. Charles Keyes quoted in New York Times article on unrest in Thailand. 

May 2010
Congratulations to Prof. Marty Jaffee who has just been elected Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, the oldest society for Jewish scholarship in North America.

March 2010

From July 5 to August 12, the University of Washington Tel Dor Archaeological Program will resume its field school excavation at Dor under the director of Professor Sarah Culpepper Stroup. The impressive and archaeologically-rich Hellenistic and late Persian period buildings consist of a fascinating complex of large public buildings likely connected with Dor’s focus as a center of coastal Mediterranean trade and industry. Click here for more  information. 

5, 2010
Prof. Jim Wellman recorded "Ritual Ecstasy and Religion" for an On the Boards production scheduled for April. On the Boards is a non-profit contemporary performing arts organization founded by artists in 1978. Its mission is to introduce Northwest audiences to international innovators in contemporary dance, theater and music while developing and presenting new work by promising performing artists in the region. It has become a leading center for contemporary performance showcasing artists who are defining the future of dance, theater, music and new media.

Feb. 2, 2010
      In the past 6 months Heidi Pauwels has published several articles including, in South Asian Religion in Film and Literature; “Imagining Religious Communities in the Sixteenth Century: Hariråm Vyås and the Haritray¥.” In April she will present two invited lectures at Columbia University.
     New and rarely taught courses she will offer are:
     Spring quarter Asian 207: Indian Literature and Popular Cinema; Autumn 2010, Asian 207: Indian Mythology, Winter 2011, Asian 494: Ramayana in comparative Perspective (this course is taught only every 3-5 years) and Spring 2011: Asian 498: Hindu-Muslim Literary Encounters.

Feb. 1, 2010
Recently published: Scott Noegel's book, "Solomon's Vineyard: Literary and Linguistic Studies in the Song of Songs" (Co-authored with Gary A. Rendsburg). SBL Ancient Israel and Its Literature.
     This book contains four interconnected studies on the biblical Song of Songs. The first details the evidence for the Song's northern (Israelian Hebrew) dialect; the second examines the poem's sophisticated use of alliteration; the third is devoted to the Song's poetic use of variation; and the fourth revisits the generic classification of the Song by way of comparisons to two genres of Medieval Arabic poems known as tashbib and hija'. The latter study argues that the Song can be read as a political invective.

Cynthea Bogel's book, "With a Single Glance Buddhist Icon and Early Mikkyo Vision
was published in December.

Jan. 18, 2010
Prof. Cynthea J. Bogel
has received a one-year NEH fellowship and a UW Royalty Research Fund and Scholar award (spring '10), to support writing a book on Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e).

Oct. 26, 2009

James Wellman's "Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest," received an Honorable Mention for the 2009 SSSR Distinguished Book Award (2nd out of 26 books nominated).

Oct. 15, 2009
Prof. Heidi Pauwels' edited volume, "Patronage and Popularisation, Pilgrimage and Procession: Channels of Transcultural Translation and Transmission in Early Modern South India" has just been published.

The volume focus on the exchange of religious ideas, and channels of transmission and translation. It looks at the circulation of ideas in early modern India, with an eye to identify moments of change and its agents. The main questions under investigation are: How are religious traditions transmitted? At which point do innovations occur and are they explicitly marked as such or do they slip in unnoticed? Who are the agents involved in transmission and change, and what are the audiences and patrons of these processes? The volume also studies how this flow of ideas influences dynamics of identity formation. In particular, several papers look at the construction of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim identities in the modern period, and how this evolved from more fl uid, or differently constituted identities in the pre-modern period. The volume is organized around three themes: transcultural translation, pilgrimage and procession, and patronage and popularization.


Christian Novetzke's book "Religion and Public Memory: A Cultural History of Saint Namdev in India" has just been named "Best First Book in the History of Religions" by the AAR.


Autumn 2009 

Tuesday, October 27, the Comparative Religion Program and the Department of Anthropology will hold a book launch marking the publication of two books by faculty members Jonathan Brown and Arzoo Osanloo. The event will take place in Thomson 317 from noon to 1. Please RSVP. It will be followed by a faculty and student social. A colloquium for RELIGION 510 will take place from 1 to 3 PM in the same room.

Spring 2009 Updates

Heidi Pauwels will deliver an invited talk, "Bhakti for upwardly mobile warlords in the new Mughal imperial formation" to be presented at the "Oxford Early Modern South Asia Workshop: Religious Cultures in South Asia, c. 1500-1800," organized by Polly O'Hanlon of Oxford and David Washbrook of Cambridge at the Faculty of Oriental Studies and St Anthony’s College, U.K. June 5-6, 2009

During the 2009-10 academic year Professor Cabeiri Robinson will be completing a book manuscript entitled ‘Body of the Victim, Body or the Warrior: Refugees and the Kashmir Jihad’ thanks to a fellowship from the Stanford Humanities Center.

Professor Jonathan Brown's,and Professor Arzoo Osanloo both have books which will appear this spring. Brown's is "Hadith: An Introduction"; Osanloo's book is titled, "The Politics of Women's Rights."

Heidi Pauwels will be promoted to full Professor beginning this September.

And  iUniverse publishers announces publication of Prof. Martin Jaffee's book " The End of Jewish Radar: Snapshots of a Post-Ethnic American Judaism." The book is available as an E-book and in Perfect Bound Softcover. For more information:




Just Reviewed

Scott Noegel's new book, "Nocturnal Ciphers: The Punning Language of Dreams in the Ancient Near East (American Oriental Series 89; New Haven, CT.: American Oriental Society, 2007) was reviewed in the Review of Biblical Literature



To appear November 9

An interview with Prof. Martin S. Jaffee in the Jewish Herald-Voice of Houston on "What? Nobody Wants A Byline?" with Aaron Howard. To read this interview:



Journal Cites UW Faculty Articles

Martin S. Jaffee’s article, "One God, One Revelation, One People:  On The Symbolic Structure of Elective Monotheism." (JAAR 69, 2001) was listed as one of the top
10 downloads from the Journal of American Academy f Religions-OUP website for 2006. 

James K. Wellman with Kyoko Tokuno, "Is Religious Violence Inevitable?" (JAAR 43:3, 291-296) was ranked as the most cited article between 2005-2007.


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