February 27, 2020, 4:30pm, Swift Common Room
Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús, Princeton University, on “Religion In the Closet: Heterosecularisms and Police Practitioners of African Diaspora Religions.” 

Aisha Beliso de Jesus

Abstract: Drawing on ethnographic research with police officers and religious practitioners of African Diaspora religions in the United States, I examine how racialized religions are constructed as evil subjects of state criminality . In interviews with “police-practitioners” or those officers who secretly practice African diaspora religions, they described their religions as “in the closet.” I examine the erotics of religion in the closet as an example of a broader form of sexualized containment in everyday policing. I suggest that the policing of racialized religions in the United States joins emic police conceptions of “Judeo-Christian” crusade logics, white supremacy, anti-blackness, and heteronormativity. In this process I argue that racialized religions are simultaneously queered and criminalized. This confluence between heteronormativity in the toxic masculinity of policing and Judeo-Christian secularisms is what I am calling here, hetero-secularisms.

Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús is Professor of American Studies at Princeton University. A cultural and social anthropologist, Dr. Beliso-De Jesús has conducted ethnographic research with Santería practitioners in Cuba and the United States, and police officers and communities of color affected by police violence in the United States. Her research and teaching span the United States, Caribbean, Latin America, Africana, and Afro-Latinx communities. Beliso-De Jesús’ work contributes to cultural and media studies, anthropology of religion, critical race studies, Black and Latinx transnational feminist and queer theory, African diaspora religious studies, and studies on policing and militarization.

Her first book, Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion (Columbia University Press, 2015), won the 2016 Albert J. Raboteau Award for the Best Book in Africana Religions. It details the transnational experience of Santería in which racialized and gendered spirits, deities, priests, and religious travelers remake local, national, and political boundaries and actively reconfigure notions of technology and transnationalism. She is completing a book, Zombie Patrol: Policing African Diaspora Religions which examines the criminalization and racialization of religions of Black and Latinx in the U.S. Beliso-De Jesús has also launched a team-based ethnographic research project on police use of force in New Orleans, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Her publications include articles in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Signs, the Journal of Africana Religions, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She came to Princeton after eight years at Harvard Divinity School where she was professor of African American religions and a member of the Cuba Policy Committee at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, a faculty associate of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and on the executive board of the Safra Center for Ethics.

Beliso-De Jesús is the co-founder and co-director of the Center on Transnational Policing (CTP) at Princeton University, and editor-in-chief of Transforming Anthropology, the flagship journal for the Association of Black Anthropologists. For over 20 years, she has worked with numerous grassroots, public policy, substance abuse, and other nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area advocating social justice issues, teen-parent support, alternative healing approaches, and empowerment strategies for youth of color.

Linn Tonstad

February 10, 2020, 4pm, Swift Common Room
Linn Tonstad, Yale University Divinity School, on "Sexing Religion"

Abstract:
The study of gender and sexuality in religion often remains tied to simplistic models of symbolism, representation, and translation. As an often self-involving, sometimes justice-oriented field, the study of religion shares some important features with gender and sexuality studies. Yet scholars of religion and scholars of gender and sexuality often speak past each other in substantive and theoretical ways. What tools are needed to examine the sexed and gendered aspects of religious studies as a discipline? How do we think about the production of scholarship at the intersection of religion, gender, and sexuality, especially given the questionability of the category of religion to begin with? Using queer theological reflection as a case study, this talk considers the function of scholarly desire in the production of knowledge at the place where religion meets sex.

Professor Tonstad is a constructive theologian working at the intersection of systematic theology with feminist and queer theory. Her first book, God and Difference: The Trinity, Sexuality, and the Transformation of Finitude  was published by Routledge in 2016 and was named both as a best new book in ethics and a best new book in theology in Christian Century in the spring of 2017. Her second book, Queer Theology: Beyond Apologetics was published by Cascade in 2018. She joined the Yale Divinity School faculty in 2012 after teaching at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and Valparaiso University. Her teaching interests include Christian theology, queer and feminist theory, philosophy of religion, and theological method. Professor Tonstad has made contributions to various journals, including Modern Theology, International Journal of Systematic Theology, and Theology & Sexuality. She is co-chair of the Theology and Religious Reflection unit and serves on the steering committee of the Queer Studies in Religion unit of the American Academy of Religion. She is also an associate editor at Political Theology. She is currently working on her third book, tentatively titled The Impossible Other: Theology, Queer Theory, and the Temptation of Human Redemption. 

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October 13, 3pm, Swift Common Room
Kathryn Lofton, Yale University: a conversation with students from DIvOUT and the Women's Caucus

October 23,  12noon, Swift Common Room
Divinity School Students are invited to a Wednesday Lunch discussion of the study of gender and sexuality at the Divinity School with Profs. Sarah Pierce Taylor and Erin Galgay Walsh.  RSVP to  divinitylunch@gmaill.com 

December 5, 12:30pm (brown bag lunch)
Vincent Lloyd, Villanova University