Global Christianities 2019

Global Christianties: Perspectives, Methods, and Challenges

The Divinity School will host the second in the "Global Christianities" conference series on May 2, 2019. This conference series is funded by a generous gift from Tandean Rustandy (MBA'07). 



In the beginning of the 21st century, Christianity is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. The second in a series, this event engages new directions in the academic study of global Christianities. Forging an interdisciplinary conversation, it features leading scholars in theology, history, and classics to reconsider approaches to the study of Christianity in the Middle East, South America, Africa, and Asia.

"Global Christianities" is organized by Divinity School faculty Kevin Hector, Associate Professor of Theology and of the Philosophy of Religions; Dwight N. Hopkins, the Alexander Campbell Professor of Theology; Angie Heo, Assistant Professor of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion; and Karin Krause, Assistant Professor of Byzantine Theology and Visual Culture.

The first conference in this series,  Global Christianities: New Directions for the 21st Century, was held in April 2018 and featured Stephen Davis, Deirdre De La Cruz, and Jehu Hanciles.


  • Adam Becker, Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, New York University
  • Suma Ikeuchi, Assistant Professor, Department of Liberal Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Eliza F. Kent, Chair and Professor of Religious Studies, Skidmore College
  • Kwok Pui Lan, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  • Jacob Olupona, Professor of African Religious Traditions, Harvard Divinity School and Professor of African and African American Studies, FAS
  • Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission Studies and Director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission, Boston University
  • Heather J. Sharkey, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania


Thursday, May 2 | Swift Lecture Hall (3rd floor)

9-9:15am   Opening Remarks

9:15-10:45am  Session #1: Lessons from the Global South

9:15-9:45  Kwok Pui Lan: "The Study of World Christianity from a Postcolonial Perspective"
9:45-10:15  Jacob Olupona: "Global Christianity: Challenges, Concepts and Prospects"
10:15-10:45  Discussion

10:45-11:00 Break

11am-12noon Keynote lecture by Dana L. Robert: "Mission Studies and Global Christianity"

12noon-1pm Lunch. Please click here to send an email to reserve a free lunch

Session #2: On the Idea of the "Global"

1:00-1:30pm  Adam Becker: "The Pre-Global Global Going Global"
1:30-2:00pm  Heather Sharkey: "Middle Eastern Christianity between the Local and the Global"
2:00-2:30pm  Discussion

2:30-3:00pm  Break

3:00-4:30 Session #3: Dynamics of Mission

3:00-3:30pm   Eliza Kent: "Gender and Power in the 'Charismatic Space'"
3:30-4:00pm  Suma Ikeuchi: ""Brazilian Birth, Japanese Blood, and Transnational God: Race and Religion in the Trans-Pacific Diasporic Circuits"
4:00-4:30pm  Discussion 

4:30-5:00 Closing Remarks

5:00-6:00 Reception (Common Room, 1st floor)


Persons with a disability who need an accommodation to attend this event, please call Suzanne Riggle in advance: 773-702-8219. 

image credit: Photocreo Michal Bednarak

Adam Becker

“The Pre-Global Global Going Global: The Case of the Church of the East”

Professor Becker's research interests include Christian martyr texts in Sasanian (Pre-Islamic) Iran, Jewish-Christian relations in Late Antiquity, the social and intellectual history of the Syriac (Christian Aramaic) tradition, and the missionary encounter in the nineteenth century. His book, Fear of God and the Beginning of Wisdom: The School of Nisibis and the Development of Christian Scholastic Culture in Late Antique Mesopotamia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), grounds the reception of Greek philosophical and patristic literature in the social life of Christian schools in the Sasanian Empire. In his 2015 book, Revival and Awakening: American Evangelical Missionaries in Iran and the Origins of Assyrian Nationalism (University of Chicago), Becker links the development of secular nationalism among Christians in the 19th century Middle East to American Protestant ideas of religious reform. He is currently editing some of the works attributed to the Syriac poet Isaac of Antioch (5th-6th century) as part of a larger project on ethical exhortation and the perceived moral failure of Christianization in late antique Syria.


Eliza Kent
“Gender and Power in the “Charismatic Space”: Assessing Scholarship on Contemporary Pentecostal and Charismatic Mission“

Eliza F. Kent is Professor of Religion at Skidmore College. She received a B.A. from Williams College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
 A scholar of religion in South Asia, she is the author of Converting Women: Gender and Protestant Christianity in Colonial South India (Oxford University Press, 2004), Sacred Groves, Local Gods: Religion and Environmentalism in South India (Oxford University Press, 2013) and articles in venues such as the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, the Journal for Hindu-Christian Studies, Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture and Ecology, and the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. With Tazim Kassam, she co-edited the volume Lines in Water:Religious Boundaries in South Asia (Syracuse University Press, 2013). Whether engaged with gender or ecology, her research focuses on religious pluralism and its side effects, such as conversion, syncretism, crypto-conversion, reform and revival.


Suma Ikeuchi

"Brazilian Birth, Japanese Blood, and Transnational God: Race and Religion in the Trans-Pacific Diasporic Circuits"

Suma Ikeuchi is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Department of Liberal Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). While she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Emory University, her work also probes the intersections of Religious Studies, Migration Studies, and Asian Studies. She is the author of Jesus Loves Japan: Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism in a Brazilian Diaspora (Stanford University Press, 2019), which illustrates how Latin American Pentecostalism appeals to Japanese-Brazilian migrants in Japan as the “third culture” amid heightened transnational mobility. She has also published in Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, Contemporary Japan, and Ethos: Journal of Psychological Anthropology. Her most recent article, “From Slaves to Agents: Pentecostal Ethic and Precarious Labor among Brazilian Migrants in Toyota, Japan,” is forthcoming from JAAR (Journal of the American Academy of Religion).


Kwok Pui Lan
“The Study of World Christianity from a Postcolonial Perspective”

Kwok Pui Lan is Distinguished Visiting Professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and a past President of the American Academy of Religion. She has published extensively in Asian feminist theology, biblical interpretation, and postcolonial criticism. An internationally known theologian, Kwok’s publications include Occupy Religion (with Joerg Rieger); Globalization, Gender, and Peacebuilding; Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology; and Introducing Asian Feminist Theology. She is the editor of Women and Christianity (4 vols) and coeditor of Postcolonial Practice of Ministry.



Jacob Olupona
“Global Christianity: Challenges, Concepts and Prospects”

Jacob K. Olupona joined the Faculty of Harvard Divinity School and Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in 2006. He is a noted scholar of religions in Africa, whose current research focuses on the explosive growth of Evangelicalism across all branches of Christianity in Nigeria, expanding the current discourse that is largely focused on Pentecostalism by identifying its impact on the larger context of Nigerian Christianity and society. Prior to this current work, Olupona studied the religious practices of African immigrants to the United States over the last few decades; a phenomenon he coined as "reverse mission." His earlier research focuses on African spirituality and ritual practices, Pentecostalism and Global Christianity, and investigates the phenomena of civil religion and religious pluralism in both Africa and the Americas


Dana L. Robert

"The History of the Discourse of World Christianity, and its Relationship to Mission Studies, 1910-2010"

Dr. Robert is the Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission, and Director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission. Her research and teaching interests span mission history, World Christianity, and mission theology. An Editor of the journal Church History, during 2016-17 she was a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology, and Senior Research Fellow at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Germany. She is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Missiology. In addition to Boston University’s School of Theology, she is a faculty member in African Studies and the Graduate Division of Religious Studies. Robert received her BA from Louisiana State University and her MA, MPhil, and PhD from Yale University.

Heather Sharkey
“Middle Eastern Christianity between the Local and the Global”

Heather J. Sharkey is Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (University of California Press 2003) and American Evangelicals in Egypt: Missionary Encounters in an Age of Empire (Princeton University Press 2008). She has edited two volumes, Cultural Conversions: Unexpected Consequences of Christian Missionary Encounters in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (Syracuse University Press 2013); and, with Mehmet Ali Doğan, American Missionaries in the Modern Middle East: Foundational Encounters (University of Utah Press, 2011). Her newest book, A History of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East, appeared from Cambridge University Press in 2017.