Professor Contact Areas of Interest
Pamela Klassen
Photo: Johnny Guatto
Department for the Study of Religion
170 St George Street
Toronto, ON M5R 2M8
  • Anthropology of religion
  • Religion, healing, and medicine
  • Religious diversity in North America in historical and contemporary perspectives
  • Women, gender, and religion
  • Ritual and ritual theory
  • Narrative and life writing
  • Religion and the secular

About

Pamela Klassen is Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion, cross-appointed to Anthropology, at the University of Toronto, where she is also Vice-Dean, Undergraduate & International in the Faculty of Arts & Science. She teaches graduate and undergraduate students in areas of the anthropology and history of Christianity and colonialism in North America, religion in the public sphere, and religion, law, media, and gender, and welcomes inquiries from prospective students in these and related areas. The author of many books and articles, her most recent solo publications are The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indigenous Land (U of Chicago Press, 2018) and “Contraception and the Coming of Secularism: Reconsidering Reproductive Freedom as Religious Freedom” in Secular Bodies, Affects, and Emotions, eds. Monique Scheer, Birgitte Schepelern Johansen, and Nadia Fadil, (London: Bloomsbury, 2019, pp. 17-30). Her newest joint publications include The Public Work of Christmas: Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies, co-edited with Monique Scheer, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019) and  Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State (U of Chicago Press, 2018), co-authored with Paul Christopher Johnson and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan. Her previous book, Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity (University of California Press, 2011) won a 2012 American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence. She currently holds the Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation in support of a five-year collaborative project entitled “Religion and Public Memory in Multicultural Societies,” undertaken together with Prof. Dr. Monique Scheer of the University of Tübingen. For more information, along with a wide range of digital scholarship, please see her website here.

Teaching

In Fall 2019, Pamela is co-teaching a First-Year Foundations Seminar called “The Bible and Migration” (DTS199F), together with Prof. Naomi Seidman. Specially designed for first-year students, this seminar focuses on how the Bible speaks powerfully and in many voices about experiences of displacement, migration, and hospitality. Reading about sojourners and hosts, tyrants and exiles, refugees and settlers, we will develop the tools to see how biblical stories continue to inspire and justify a diversity of responses to human migration—from hospitality for the refugee to colonial settlement on Indigenous land. She also has many graduate students.

Publications

Books

2019
The Public Work of Christmas: Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies, co-edited with Monique Scheer. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

2018
The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indigenous Land, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State, co-authored with Paul C. Johnson and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, TRIOS Series, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2011
Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity. University of California Press.
2010
After Pluralism: Reimagining Religious Engagement. Co-edited with Courtney Bender. Columbia University Press.
2009
Women and Religion: Critical Concepts. Co-edited with Shari Golberg and Danielle Lefebvre. 4 vols. Routledge.
2001
Blessed Events: Religion and Home Birth in America. Princeton University Press.
1994
Going by the Moon and the Stars: Stories of Two Russian Mennonite Women. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Articles

2019

“Contraception and the Coming of Secularism: Reconsidering Reproductive Freedom as Religious Freedom” in Secular Bodies, Affects, and Emotions, eds. Monique Scheer, Birgitte Schepelern Johansen, and Nadia Fadil, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 17-30.

2016
“Narrating Religion through Museums” Narrating Religion, ed. Sarah Iles Johnston, MacMillan Interdisciplinary Handbook, pp. 333-352.

“Medicine” The Oxford Handbook for the Study of Religion, ed. Steven Engler and Michael Stausberg, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 416-429.

“God Keep our Land: The Legal Ritual of the McKenna-McBride Commission, 1913-1916” Religion and the Exercise of Public Authority, edited by Benjamin Berger and Richard Moon, London: Hart Publishing, pp. 79-93.

2015
Co-authored with Matthew King.“Suppressing the Mad Elephant: Missionaries, Lamas, and the Mediation of Sacred Historiographies in the Tibetan Borderlands.”History and Anthropology24 (4): 1-24.
2015
“Fantasies of Sovereignty: Civic Secularism in Canada.”Critical Studies in Religion3(1): 41-56.
2014
“The Politics of Protestant Healing: Theoretical Tools for the Study of Spiritual Bodies and the Body Politic.”Spiritus 14(1): 67-75.
2014
“Making Religion Mental: A Response to Birgit Meyer’s ‘Mediation and the Genesis of Presence.’”Religion and Society 5: 231-237.
2014
“Mentality, Fundamentality, and the Colonial Secular; or How Real is Real Estate?”The Postsecular Condition.Eds. Rosi Braidotti, Bolette Blaagaard, and Eva Midden.Palgrave MacMillan.175-94.
2013
“Christianity as a Polemical Concept.”The Companion to the Anthropology of Religion.Eds. Michael Lambek and Janice Boddy.Wiley-Blackwell.344-362.
2013
Co-authored with Kathryn Lofton.“Material Witnesses: Women and the Mediation of Christianity.”Media, Religion, and Gender.Ed. Mia Lövheim.Routledge.52-65.
2012
Co-authored with John Marshall.“Saint as Cipher: Paul and the Politics of Ritual Repudiation.”History of Religions.51 (4): 344-363.
2012
“Religion and Myths of Nationhood in Canada and Mexico in the Twenty-first Century.”The Cambridge History of Religions in America, Volume III: 1945 to the Present.Ed. Stephen J. Stein.Cambridge UP.719-745.

Accomplishments

2015-2020
Anneliese Maier Research Award, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
2015
Northrop Frye Award of Excellence for the integration of Research and Teaching, University of Toronto Alumni Association
2012
Winner of the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in Analytical-Descriptive Studies for Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity
2012
John Albert Hall Lecturer, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria.  Four public lectures, January 19-25
2012
Religious Diversity Youth Leadership Project, funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Federal Government), $500,000 over 3 years for academic and community workshops, service learning, and youth engagement. Joint application with Religion in the Public Sphere, The Multifaith Centre, and Centre for Community Partnerships, all at U of Toronto
2011
DAAD/German Academic Exchange Program Study Tour Grant (I led a tour of four German research institutes for 11 U of T PhD students)
2010-11
Humboldt Foundation Returning Research Fellow
2010-11
Visiting Professor, Institut für Ethnologie, University of Tübingen
2008-09
Jackman Humanities Institute Fellowship, University of Toronto