Sara Ahmed Abdel-Latif

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  • Qur’anic Authority
  • Gender
  • Sufi Exegesis
Sara is a Ph.D. Candidate, a Course Instructor and a Yoga Teacher. She completed her M.A. in 2014 at the University of Toronto, focusing on the representation of Sufis as ideal interpreters of qur’anic meaning in al-Sulami’s writings. She earned her B.A. in Humanities and Religion with a minor in Muslim Studies in 2012 from Carleton University in Ottawa. Currently, Sara works on the construction of notions of qur’anic authority and gendered representations of female Sufi exegetes in the writings of Sunnis and Sufis of the 12th and 13th century.

Nilmani Abeywickrama Goonetilleke

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  • Sri Lankan Buddhism
  • Funerary Rites
  • Vessantara Jātaka
My research is analyzing the role of the popular Vessantara Jātaka narrative in funerary rites among Sri Lankan Buddhists. This research will unveil how the Buddhist community of Sri Lanka copes with the separation from loved ones at death through Buddhist narratives that focus on the merit of giving in life. I intend my research to not only serve academic ends, but to benefit future generations beyond the scholarly community.

Mohannad Abusarah

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  • Religious Roots of Secularism
  • Islamic Shariah
  • Modern Religions
Mohannad is an MA student at the Department for the Study of Religion. He earned his second degree in Religious Studies from the University of Toronto. Besides his interest in Religious Studies, Mohannad has a strong interest in Philosophy. His academic interest includes the Christian roots of secularism and the ways that the European secular perception of Islam influenced Muslims’ self-image. His SSHRC-funded MA project focuses on the transformation of sharia that started in the 19th century. He seeks to investigate how that transformation changed key concepts of pre-modern Islamic sharia.

Sadaf Ahmed

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  • Islam
  • Contemporary Canada
Sadaf Ahmed is a doctoral student whose prospective research will focus on how Islam in Canada is constructed in and informed by the post-9/11 circumstance.

Khalidah Ali

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  • Islam
  • Gender
Khalidah is a PhD student in Islamic Studies. Her main interests are modern Islam in Egypt, Islamic Reformism, Islamism, and gender.

Joud Alkorani

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  • Ethnography
  • Islam
Joud is a PhD candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. Her current research provides an ethnographic account of how life in Dubai shapes Muslim women’s subjectivities, affective relationships, and ethical ideals. Joud’s academic research interests include the anthropologies of Islam, neoliberal governmentality, and transnational migration.

Filip Andjelkovic

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Spirituality and Technology
Filip Andjelkovic is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, Department for the Study of Religion. He completed his MA at the University of Toronto in 2019. Filip is interested in the application of psychoanalytic theory towards understanding the ways in which spiritual ideas intersect, and are fundamentally intertwined with, technologies of instantaneous communication and simulation.

Sarina Annis

  • Anabaptists/Mennonites
  • Contemporary Canada
  • Christian Women
Sarina is a doctoral student at the DSR and is interested in contemporary North American Christianity. She has a MSc in the Anthropology of Religion from LSE where she looked at Mennonite missionaries in Quebec during the 1950s. She likes to think about religion and modernity, contemporary Anabaptism, the anthropology of mission, women in conservative religious movements, and the history of religion in Canada.

Zoe Anthony

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  • Kant and Nietzsche
  • Problem of Evil
  • Asceticism
Zoe is a PhD candidate in history and philosophy of religions. She reads in the tradition of modern Continental thought, particularly Kant and Nietzsche. Her research focuses on the problems of suffering and evil. She also thinks about problems in method and theory in the study of religion, including historicity, relativity, temporality, and religious experience. This year, she looks forward to working on “asceticism” as a response to suffering. To view her research, visit her website

Martin Arno

Arno, Martin
  • Early Christianity
  • Papyrology and Textual Criticism
Martin Arno is a PhD student. He holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a MA from the University of Chicago. He is interested in the significance and dimensions of curses in the development of the early Christian movement, as well as papyrology and textual criticism in antiquity.

Danielle Baillargeon

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  • Early Christianity
  • Women in Art
Danielle is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto. She received her BA and Master’s at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on images of women in Roman and early Christian art. Danielle’s project will investigate the artistic depiction of women’s religious activities in early Christian funerary art.

Margaret Bangia

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  • Religious language
  • Evangelicalism
  • Victorian era
Margaret is in the MA program in the Department for the Study of Religion, and is interested in religious language, specifically as it is used in Evangelical sermons. Further to this, she is also interested in how that language reflects the cultural, political and social understanding of the Evangelical community in London during the Victorian Era.

Paul Banks

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  • Christian Origins
  • Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity
Paul is an MA student at the DSR whose field of study is religions of Mediterranean antiquity with a more specific interest in Christian origins and the text of the New Testament.

David Belfon

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  • Jewish Ultra-orthodoxy
  • Conversion/Deconversion in Contemporary Canada
David is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Jewish Studies. He is interested in the mechanics of conversion and deconversion in contemporary Canada, with regard to formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews who have become disaffiliated from their communities. His project addresses questions of how social and religious boundaries and the institutionalization of religious identity relate to apostasy.

Brigidda Bell

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  • New Testament
  • Graeco-Roman Religions
  • Prophets, Diviners, Ritual Specialists
  • Social History of Early Christianity
Brigidda is a PhD candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, and she was a Chancellor Henry N. R. Jackman Fellow in the Humanities during 2018-19. Her dissertation examines how early Christian prophets and ritual specialists of the Roman Empire embodied strategies that allowed them to be perceived as credible within a competitive marketplace of religious offerings. Focusing on literary portrayals of the body language of possession, appeals to moral conduct through the exchange of money and services, and the way ethnicity is perceived as a gateway to special knowledge, Brigidda argues that embodied forms of signalling credibility informed debates on true and false prophecy. Through engagement with theories of embodied perception and signalling theory, her research calls attention to the ways that bodies, ancient and modern, persuade and compel.

Kalpesh Bhatt

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  • Hinduism
  • Modern Reception of Pre-modern Hindu Texts
Kalpesh Bhatt is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion, Centre for South Asian Studies, and Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. He received his Masters from Harvard University. His research focuses on the function, value, and relevance of pre-modern Hindu texts in modern contexts, and the interaction of Hindu theology and neo-Vedantic worldviews with the daily lives of those who hold them.

Usmon Boron

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  • Secularism and Religion
  • Soviet secularism
  • Post-Soviet Central Asia
Usmon is a PhD candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion and the Center for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. His research explores anthropologically the formation of Soviet secularism and the ways in which Soviet secular sensibilities and vocabularies unfold in post-Soviet Central Asia. Usmon’s academic interests include critical approaches to secularism and religion, as well as the anthropology of law and ethics.

Ian Brown

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  • Graeco-Roman antiquity
  • Early Jesus traditions
  • Marginal Intellectuals
Ian Brown is a doctoral candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, and an historian of the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean with a focus on the intellectual worlds of Greeks, Romans, Judeans, and Christians. His research focuses on the ways in which encyclia paideia (Hellenistic education) constructed intellectual fields in Graeco-Roman antiquity, and the ways in which these intellectual fields influenced the formation of first- and second-century Jesus traditions and social groups. In particular his work examines the field of marginal intellectuals witnessed in the writings of Lucian, Josephus, Plutarch, and Philo, and occupied by some early Christians such as Paul and the composers and consumers of the Gospel of Thomas. Ian’s research is based on socio-historical approaches to religions of antiquity, with a focus on fields of intellectual, and particularly literary production.

Amelia Brownridge

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  • Ancient Israel
  • Jewish Identity
Amelia Brownridge is an MA student at the Department for the Study of Religion. She earned her BA in Honours Humanities with a Minor in Religious Studies in 2019 from Carleton University. Her academic interests include early Israelite religions, memory and trauma, and Jewish identity. Her SSHRC-funded MA research seeks to explore the Exodus story as located between historical reality and cultural memory as ethnic self-fashioning, and determine the story’s strategic function in the historical consciousness of early Israelite society.

Judith Ellen Brunton

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  • Contemporary Canada
  • Oil and Land
Judith Ellen Brunton is a doctoral student at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion. Her work concerns how individuals and communities imagine ‘the good life’ within the symbolic field of work, land, and home. Judith’s dissertation centres on Alberta’s oil public and uses ethnographic and historiographic methods to investigate how oil’s cultural, affective, and material infrastructures shape ‘the good life’ that people there aspire to. Judith holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Scholarship to pursue her research. She is currently a junior fellow at Victoria College and Massey College at the University of Toronto.

Kyle Byron

  • Christianity in North America
  • Ethnography
  • Material Culture
Kyle Byron is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion in the area of Religion, Culture, Politics. His research, grounded in the ethnographic study of North American Christianities, focuses on the place of affect and material/sensory culture in the study of religion. Kyle holds an MA in Comparative Religion from Western Michigan University (with emphases in American Religious History and Theory and Method in Religious Studies) and an MA in American Studies from University of Wyoming (with emphases in Folklore and Material Culture).

Vincent Calabrese

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  • Judaism
  • Law and theology
  • Existentialism
Vincent Calabrese studies Jewish thought in the modern period, especially the relationship between law and theology in Judaism and the tradition of Jewish existentialism. He holds a B.A. from McGill University, an M.A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and is pursuing rabbinic ordination through the Hadar Institute. His dissertation project focuses on the work of Michael Wyschogrod.

Sean Capener

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  • Political Theology
  • Debt and Finance
  • 13th-century Scholasticism
Sean is a PhD Candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion and a Henry N.R. Jackman Junior Fellow in the Humanities at the Jackman Humanities Institute. His research is in contemporary continental philosophy, political theology, and medieval scholasticism. He’s interested in the ways that the terms of scholastic debates influence–through both survival and repudiation–the terms of contemporary ones. His dissertation research focuses on 13th-century Parisian arguments around usury, in particular the debate over the idea that usury constitutes a ‘theft of time,’ which has become a popular point of reference for contemporary critiques of debt and finance. In addition to his dissertation research, Sean has published on the philosophical writings of Giorgio Agamben and Gilles Deleuze.

Tanisha Chakma

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  • Indo-European Poetics
  • Heroic Epic Poetry
I completed a BA in European Studies (2010), a further BA in Classics (2014), and an MA in Classics (2016) at Dalhousie University. I primarily work with Ancient Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit epics, and have an interest in hero cults, heroic divinity, and heroic mortality.

Saliha Chattoo

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  • American Evangelicalism
  • Anthropology of Christianity
Saliha is a PhD student who studies the anthropology of Christianity. She completed her BA in Anthropology and Classics at the University of Alberta and her MA in Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University. Broadly stated, her doctoral work explores how certain annual performance-based conversion events function as spaces wherein American evangelical youth can cultivate and perform their religious and political ideologies.

Tamara Cohen

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  • Ancient Hinduism
  • Yoga literature
  • Hindu Philosophy
Tamara is a PhD Candidate working on the yoga passages of the newly-edited critical edition of the 10th-century Kashmirian text known as the Mokṣopāya. Tamara is interested in representations of embodiment and body-centred practices that lead to a state of spiritual transcendence. Story-passages that illustrate instances of the use of prāṇāyāma, āsana, nāḍī, mantra, mūdra, siddhi, kuṇḍalinī awakening, yogabhūmi and yoga philosophy as processes that lead to a state of jīvanmukti depict haṭhayoga techniques in a literary text that is not currently recognized as early haṭhayoga literature. Tamara’s work is concerned with placing the yoga of the MU within the history of early yoga literature. She seeks to interpret and contextualize the Mokṣopāya’s depiction of previously unknown and uncommon concepts of the body, embodiment, technologies of the energy body and the transmutation of the physical body into a body of light that can be found in passages that depict meditation, stages of yoga, supernatural yogic powers, liberation, and the Mokṣopāya’s own unique re-telling of the Bhagavadgītā’s well-known philosophy of karmayoga.

Rosalind Cooper

  • Religion and Technology
  • Political Theology
Hello, my name is Rosalind. I’m a PhD student here at the DSR. I have a BA in Philosophy and Cultural Studies from Trent University, and an MA in Theory, Culture and Politics, also from Trent. I have studied at the Toronto School of Theology, and have an MI in Library and Information Science from the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. I’m interested in the history of the human sciences, secularisation and the intersections between religion and technology. My methodological interests include genealogy, ethnology and historical materialism. My research is inspired by Walter Benjamin’s insight that “There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth. Like every generation that preceded us, we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power, a power to which the past has a claim. That claim cannot be settled cheaply”. It is my hope that my time at the DSR will afford me the opportunity to contribute, in some small but meaningful way, to the gargantuan task of settling this claim.

Anna Cwikla

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  • Nag Hammadi Texts
  • Gendered Language
Anna is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion. Her current research focuses on the use of gendered language in the Nag Hammadi codices. Her dissertation investigates the reasons why female characters are employed frequently in these texts and explores similar examples of gendered language in other ancient Mediterranean texts.

Maria Dasios

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  • Early Christianity
  • Materiality
Maria is a PhD candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion. Her research explores what counts as “material” in late antique Christian (mostly Greek) texts, but she is equally fascinated by contemporary scholarly approaches to materiality. Previously a student of comparative literature, Maria retains a keen interest in the intersections of religion with literature, philosophy, and film.

Kyle Derkson

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  • Walt Whitman
  • 19th-century Psychiatry
Kyle’s research examines the friendship between Walt Whitman and Canadian psychiatrist Richard Bucke. He is interested in how Whitman’s conception of the body may have influenced Bucke’s operation of the London Asylum or his writings on Cosmic Consciousness.

Andrew Dade

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  • Anthropology of Buddhism
  • Sound Studies
Andrew is a doctoral student in the Department for Study of Religion and the Collaborative Program in South Asian Studies. He is interested in the work of sound, silence, and recitation for Buddhist traditions, in particular, and many other traditions, comparatively. His ethnographic research centers recitations of the Pali canon in Myanmar (Burma) where the Abhidhamma, a Buddhist phenomenological treatise, receives considerable lay and monastic attention.

Edward Escalon

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  • Latin American Christianity
  • Pentecostalism
  • Race and Violence
Edward Escalon is currently a doctoral student in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. Broadly speaking, Edward is interested in Christianity in Latin America and the diaspora. In the past he has done research on Latinx Pentecostalism in Spain and Latina Evangelical responses to racialized police brutality. His current project cosiders the role of transnational Evangelical Christians and missionaries in violence prevention work in Honduras.

Andrew Erlich

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  • Tibet
  • Medical History
Andrew Erlich is a PhD candidate who received his BA from the University of Saskatchewan and his MA in Buddhist Studies from the University of Toronto. His current work focuses on Tibetan medical history and Tibetan understandings of the body.

Eric Farr

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  • Religion, Secularism and Public Life
  • Liberal Democratic Education
  • Anthropology of Religion and Secularism
  • Religion, Childhood, and Youth
Eric Farr is a doctoral student at the Department for the Study of Religion. His research examines the interaction of secularism and religion in public education systems. He is especially interested in questions of youth agency and autonomy in the secular public school. Eric holds a MA in Religious Studies from McGill University.

Nicholas Field

Photo Nicholas Field
  • Tibetan/Chinese Book History
  • 8th/9th Centuries
Nicholas is a doctoral candidate researching Tibetan scribal training at Dunhuang, China, during the eighth and ninth centuries CE. He is also a member of both the Book History and Print Culture collaborative program and the Jackman Humanities Institute’s Digital Humanities Network.

Victoria Fomina

Postdoc Victoria Fomina
  • Russian and Greek Orthodox Christianity
  • Militarism and Moral Conservatism
  • European Right-Wing and Nationalist Movements
  • Cognitive Anthropology
  • Cultural Transmission
  • Social Memory
Victoria Fomina is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She received her PhD in Social Anthropology from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. She is currently working on her first monograph, Land of Heroes and Martyrs: Public Commemoration, Moral Conservatism, and the Making of Russia’s New Military-Patriotic Culture, which investigates popular forms of patriotic activism through the lens of the contested cult of a Russian soldier beheaded in Chechen captivity in 1996. The book explores the changing representations of the soldier’s martyrdom to analyze the transformation of Russian nationalism over the past two decades and how moral conservatism and militaristic patriotism have emerged as the major ideological pillars of post-Soviet Russia.

2020 (forthcoming). “’How to Earn a Million in the Glory of God?’ Ethics and Spirituality among Orthodox Entrepreneurs in Contemporary Russia.” Anthropological Quarterly 93(2).
2018. “Between Heroism and Sainthood: New Martyr Evgenii Rodionov as a Moral Model in Contemporary Russia.” History and Anthropology 29(1): 101-120.
2018. “How Can a Painting Make One Lose One’s Faith?” Blog Post. International Cognition and Culture Institute, 2 March 2018.
2018. “Reasoning Against Faith: When Clerics Intervene in Popular Religion.” Blog Post. International Cognition and Culture Institute, 11 September 2018.

Anne-Marie Fowler

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  • Ethics, Technology, and Society
  • Ethics and Philosophies of Time
  • Systemic Change: as Redemption or as Exception
Anne-Marie Fowler is a doctoral student in the Department for the Study of Religion in collaboration with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, focusing upon time and temporality as a systemic design variable with potential ethical effect. Bringing professional background in banking, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and public policy, Anne-Marie is investigating the manner in which upstream variables such as time which are native to both secular and sacred systems design enable downstream decision sets within technology frameworks upon which global debt systems operate. Joining us from San Francisco, California, Anne-Marie’s immediately previous Master’s study at the Graduate Theological Union and University of California at Berkeley combined theological ethics and the political economy of global debt; her focus upon temporal design variables considered choice and redemptive opportunity for heavily indebted poor countries seeking debt forgiveness and release from perpetually-structured programs of sovereign debt management. She received her B.A. from Columbia University. A former half-marathoner, and earlier a student of classical ballet, Anne-Marie looks forward to bringing her devoted current practices of yoga and gourmet cooking to teaching roles in Toronto.

Sloane Geddes

  • Sanskrit Literature
  • Women and Literature
  • Textual Interpretation
Sloane is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion focusing on Sanskrit literature. She previously studied at the University of British Columbia where she worked on early Sanskrit women poets. Sloane has a number of interests which generally centre around textual interpretation and identity-making in literature. Some of her interests include Sanskrit literary theory, the portrayal of religious figures in Sanskrit drama, women’s literary production, literary constructions of ‘Others’ and difference or non-difference, medieval poetry anthologies, and processes of anthologizing.

Christina Gousopoulos

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  • Social Networks and Elective Cults of Mediterranean Antiquity
  • Synoptic Problem
  • Early Christian Gospels
  • Q Scholarship
Christina is an MA student at the Department for the Study of Religion, with a specific research interest in the early Jesus movement, social networks and elective cults in Mediterranean antiquity, and the Synoptic Problem. During the summer of 2019, she acted as a research assistant to Dr. John Kloppenborg in his SSHRC-funded project on Social Networks and Elective Cults. She obtained her BA at the University of Toronto in Religion and Sociology in June 2019.

Omer Hacker

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  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Time
  • Globalization
I’m a Ph.D. student in a special joint program of the Department of Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. My master’s dissertation (Hebrew University, summa cum laude) examined religious transformation in migration based on ethnographic work with Christian Ethiopian and Eritreans in Israel.
My Ph.D. research focuses on the effect of the globalization of work on religious schedules. In other words, how the coordination of working time between people from different places around the world is shaping and being shaped by religious time orders like prayers and holy days. To examine these issues, I’m carrying ethnographic work with Jews, Christians, and Muslims working on hi-tech companies in Tel-Aviv, Dublin, and Toronto. My supervisors are Professor Simon Coleman (Toronto) Professor Nurit Stadler (Hebrew University).

Sara Hamed

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  • Anthropology of Islam
  • Metaphors in religious language
  • Muslim Imagination in the Greater Toronto Area, ON
  • Intersections of Ethnography and Poetry

Barbara Hazelton

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  • Tibetan Literature and Art
  • Performance and Ritual
Barbara Hazelton has a BA in Fine Art History and an MA in Buddhist Studies. Her research focuses on Tibetan epic literature and performance. She has lived for many years with Tibetan communities in Asia and Canada and is a practicing artist studying with a Tibetan Thanka painter in Toronto. She has a background in Tibetan visual imagery and ritual through studies with Tibetan scholars and ritual specialists.

Annie Heckman

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  • 15th-century Tibet
  • Thangtong Gyalpo
Annie Heckman is an MA student in the Department for the Study of Religion with a focus in Buddhist studies. She is studying the life story of the 14th-15th century Tibetan engineer-saint Thangtong Gyalpo.

Nabeel Jafri

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  • Twelver Shiʿism
  • Anthropology of Language
  • Anthropology of Ritual
  • Method and Theory in Religious Studies
Nabeel Jafri is a doctoral student, focusing on contemporary Urdu Shiʿi ḥadīs̲ (oratory) in Pakistan. He is also interested in scholarship on devotion (language and practice alike), myth, history and historiography, and method and theory in religious studies.

Zhinan Jiang

DSR student Zhinan Jiang
  • Buddhism
  • Pali
  • Burma
  • Cosmology/astronomy
Zhinan Jiang is an MA student at the Department for the Study of Religion where she also received her BA. Her research focuses on Buddhist cosmology with a special interest in the contextualization of Pali cosmography and astronomical manuscripts from Burma.

Delbar Khakzad

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  • Religion and Politics
  • Modern Iran
Delbar Khakzad is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion. She completed her MA in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto, specializing in temporality and futurality in the constitutional revolution of Iran. Her main interests are modernity, nationalism, the perception of time, and the complex socio-political interactions of religious and secular trends in modern Iran.

Rajni Mala Khelawan

  • Hinduism
  • Gender Studies
  • South Pacific
Rajni Mala Khelawan is currently completing her MA in the Department of the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She was awarded a BA (Psychology Major) in 2004 from Athabasca University. Her areas of interests are diverse: Hinduism, Literary Studies, and Gender Studies. Her current research focuses on the religiosity of Indo-Fijian women living in the South Pacific nations. She has also authored two literary novels: The End of the Dark and Stormy Night (2008), which deals with religion and sexuality, and Kalyana (2016), which focuses on the lives of Indo-Fijian women and Hinduism.

Elizabeth Klaiber

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  • 16th-century England
  • Heresy and Authority
Elizabeth is a PhD candidate in the Book History and Print Culture collaborative program studying book burning and heresy in sixteenth-century England. Her particular interest is in examining how heretical spoken and written or printed words entered individual subjects’ bodies and the body politic at large, and how authorities chose to combat the spread of heretical infection.

Roxanne Korpan

Roxanne Korpan
  • 19th-century Canada
  • Religion and Colonialism
  • Bible Translation
Roxanne is a doctoral candidate in the Department for the Study of Religion and the collaborative program in Book History and Print Culture. Her dissertation research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and examines histories of Anishinaabemowin Bible translation in 19th-century Canada. She focuses her analysis on the materiality of these books, looking at missionary translators and local language experts, publishing institutions and printing presses, physical features of the bibles, and their circulation and use. Her research draws out the multivocality of Indigenous-language bibles: from working as colonial agents intended to impose a foreign religion on Indigenous populations in Canada to serving as archives of Anishinaabe language, labour, culture, and creativity.

Roxanne is also a fellow with the Northrop Frye Centre at Victoria College, a letterpress printer in the Massey College Bibliography Room, and a contemporary dance artist.

Rony Kozman

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  • Early Judaism
  • Ancient Christianity
Rony is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion in collaboration with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. His area of research includes early Judaism and ancient Christianity, focusing on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Pauline epistles. Rony is especially interested in how ancient Jewish and Christian communities transmitted and interpreted Israel’s Scripture.

Nika Kuchuk

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  • South Asian Religions
  • Transnational Religious Movements
  • 19th-century Vedanta & Buddhist Modernism
  • Translation Theory
Nika Kuchuk is a doctoral candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion, cross-affiliated with the Centre for South Asian Studies. She holds a BA Honours in Psychology and an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Ottawa. Her dissertation research explores particular moments of the ideological exchange between India and the West in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century transnational religious movements. Nika’s thesis focuses on the work and thought of two female gurus, Helena Blavatsky of Theosophy and Mirra Alfassa of Integral Yoga (better known as the Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s collaborator). Using translation theory as its main investigative lens, this project looks at the discursive technologies that frame the women’s claims to knowledge, unpacking, in the process, the ways they both simultaneously drew upon and contributed to transnational networks of modern Vedanta and Buddhist Modernism. Broadly speaking, this project is interested in exploring the intellectual genealogies of global transnational religion, as well as considering the greater implications of the synthetic, universalist ethical and spiritual visions of movements such as Theosophy and Integral Yoga, which continue to inform contemporary spirituality and politics in various ways.

Liwen Liu

  • Eastern India
  • Animal Sacrifice
  • Ritual and Ethics
Having received a Master degree from Peking University in China, Liu is doing a doctoral project on Hinduism under the supervision of Prof. Srilata Raman. In her doctoral project, Liu will examine the rituals connected to animal sacrifice as well as the ritual of animal sacrifice itself and the relationship between ritual and material culture, on the one hand, as well as ritual ethics and the problems of violence and morality, on the other, in the context of Kali worship in eastern India.

Katie Maguire

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  • Qumran liturgy
  • Apotropaic Prayer
Katie is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion. She earned an MA at the University of Toronto and a BaH at Queen’s University in Religious Studies. She is interested in apotropaic prayer and liturgy at Qumran.

Sukshmadarshi Maharaj

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  • Literature
  • Storytelling
Darshi is a doctoral student at the Department for the Study of Religion. His research focuses on literature, as his main interest is how people tell their stories and what their stories say about them.

Janani Mandayam Comar

Photo of Janani Mandayam Comar
  • Hinduism
  • Tamil
  • Performance
Janani is a PhD student. She received her BS at California Institute of Technology and MA at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is interested in south Indian musical texts and performance, as well as issues related to caste and gender in Hinduism. She is also a performing Bharatanatyam artist.

Adil Mawani

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  • Islam in South Asia
  • Fiction and Religion
Adil is a PhD student interested in the study of religion and literature with a focus on South Asia and Islamic Studies. He seeks to examine the place of literary fiction in the study of religion.

Molly Mignault

  • Environmentalism and Religion
  • India and Sacred Sites
Molly Mignault is an MA student with the Department for the Study of Religion enrolled in the collaborative program with the School of the Environment. She seeks to examine the role of religion in developing environmental protection policies. Her research includes South Asian sacred natural sites, waste management, and policy development.

Amber Moore

Photo of Amber Moore
  • Tibetan Buddhist Literature
  • Newar Buddhist Literature
  • Ritual and Performance
  • Avadānas
  • Sacred Landscape
  • Beyul Traditions of Nepal and Tibet
Amber Moore is a PhD candidate in the field of Buddhist Studies with an emphasis on the intersection of narrative literature (avadāna), ritual and visionary landscape. She holds a BA in Buddhist Philosophy and Himalayan languages from Kathmandu University and an MA in Religion and Culture from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is currently interested in engaging an intercultural approaches in her research on epistemic culture and on the corpus of Newar, Tibetan, Nepali and Sanskrit literature related to Vajrayoginī in Nepal and Tibet and is inspired to discover more compelling questions than definitive answers in this area. She has lived for several years in Tibet and Nepal with her family, and is also collaborating  with The Asian Institute at the Munk school of Global Affairs for her project. She also teaches Newar traditional dance in collaboration with Canada Newa Guthi and is involved in the 84’000 Project for the translation of the Kangyur and Tengyur from Tibetan Language.

Read Amber’s co-authored story of the visit from Professor Naresh Man Bajracharya to University of Toronto, also published in the Canada Journal for Buddhist Studies:

Mark Mueller

Photo of Mark Mueller
  • Monotheism
  • Christianity, Judaism, and Greco-Roman Religion
Mark Mueller is a PhD student with a focus on the religions of ancient antiquity. He is interested in the growth of monotheistic worship within the context of Greco-Roman religion, and its interaction with early Christianity and Judaism.

Allison Murphy

  • Religion and Morality
  • Immanuel Kant
Allison is a PhD student working in religion, ethics, and modern thought. Her primary research interests lie in philosophy of religion, Enlightenment thought (particularly Kant’s writings on morality and religion), and contemporary issues concerning the idea of the secular and cultural pluralism. Her work inquires into the relationship between religion and morality and seeks to analyze religious conceptions of the right and the good from a philosophical perspective.

Ryan Olfert

Photo of Ryan Olfert
  • Early Christianity
  • Greco-Roman society
Ryan is a PhD candidate in the field of Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity. His dissertation focuses on the intersection of Greco-Roman associations and early Jesus groups in terms of materiality, discourse, and gender. In addition to his dissertation, Ryan translates inscriptions and papyri from Roman Egypt as part of a research project directed by Dr. John Kloppenborg. He is also the current General Editor of the Department for the Study of Religion’s journal, Symposia, and assists organizing the SCRA seminar.

Alexander James O’Neill

Photo of Alexander James O'Neill
  • Newar Buddhism
  • Book History
Alexander is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. His SSHRC-funded PhD project focuses on book worship in Newar Buddhism, utilizing, in particular, Mahāyāna Buddhist sūtra literature, under the supervision of Prof Christoph Emmrich. His research interests also include paratextuality, materiality, and agency. His language interests include Sanskrit, Newar, Nepali, Pali, and Chinese.

Emily Jane Pascoe

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Social Philosophy
Emily Jane Pascoe is a doctoral student in the Department for the Study of Religion in collaboration with the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. She holds a Bachelors in Philosophy from Glendon College, York University and a Masters in the Study of Religion and Jewish Studies from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on psychoanalytic and critical theory approaches to the study of authoritarianism, particularly the experience of “anonymous necessity”.

Christina Pasqua

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  • Religion and Popular Culture
  • Politics
  • Bible Translation
Christina E. Pasqua is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Book History and Print Culture Program at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation explores the politics of Bible translation, particularly how Christian publishing companies have embraced the semiotic codes and conventions of the comic book industry to disseminate the Bible as a visual text. This project emerged from a serendipitous trip to a local bookstore, where she found a copy of The Action Bible and R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated. Christina has been reading and writing about religion, media, and popular culture ever since. She is also committed to discussing public understandings of (specialized studies in) religion and is currently exploring the potential to translate her research into (popular, arts-based) media. She earned a Bachelor of Humanities and an MA in Religion and Public Life from Carleton University in Ottawa.

Ariel Peckel

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  • Enlightenment Philosophy
  • Critiques of Religion
Ariel is a PhD candidate and Faculty of Arts and Sciences Top Doctoral Fellow, with an MA in Philosophy from the University of Toronto. His focus is on Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophy and philosophical critiques of religion, in particular, Hume’s, Spinoza’s, Kant’s, and Nietzsche’s. He also focuses on late Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language as a methodological avenue for reapplying these critiques today, against postmodernist currents of thought and in relation to monotheistic systems of reference broadly. He is completing his degree in collaboration with the Centre for Jewish Studies, where he has focused on history and philosophy of antisemitism.

Katarina Pejovic

  • Western Occultism
  • Religion and Magic
  • Folk Saints
  • Kabbalah
Katarina Pejovic is a doctoral student at the Department for the Study of Religion and the Book History & Print Culture collaborative program. Her research centers around St. Cyprian of Antioch, an enigmatic folk saint and patron of sorcerers, magicians, and occultists, seeking to understand his journey from Europe to the New World through the medium of his hagiographies and grimoires. Fascinated with notions of magic in Christianity, “double-belief”, and ritual syncretism, she also writes on trends in modern Western occultism and points of contact between them and various Afro-Brazilian spirit traditions.

Kent Peters

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  • Early Roman Christianity
  • Theory and Method
I am interested in the rise of Christianity within the setting of the Roman Empire. Specifically, the ontological perspective of key theological writers and how they were influenced by or reacted against Roman religious culture to form Christian doctrines. I am also interested in theory and method questions, specifically attempts to define the category of ‘religion’ or ‘religious.’

Jonathan Peterson

Photo of Jonathan Peterson
  • Sanskrit Scholasticism
  • Sanskrit Polemic
  • Indo-Islamic Exchange
  • Indo-Persian Literary and Cultural Histories
Jonathan’s research analyzes the intersections of religious polemical literature and issues of state-formation, patronage, sectarianism, and religious pedagogy in early-modern South Asia. The archive for this work is primarily in Sanskrit, but Jonathan also engages sources in Marathi and Persian. Jonathan’s research is supported in part by an SSHRC-CGS scholarship, and he was a Fulbright-Nehru doctoral research fellow in India over 2018-2019. He holds an M.A. in religious studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Amelia Porter

Photo of Amelia Porter
  • New Testament
  • Parables and Orality
Amelia holds a BA (Hons) from the University of Toronto and an MTh in Biblical Studies from the University of Edinburgh. She is primarily interested in the New Testament parabolic corpus, with particular reference to their oral dimension. Other interests include the social history of early Christianity and historical Jesus research.

Anusha Sudindra Rao

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  • Dvaita Vedānta
  • Narratives
  • Hagiographies
  • Epic Literature
Anusha is a doctoral student with a focus on Hinduism. Her project analyses a set of understudied hagiographies and literary works composed by religious thinkers of the Dvaita Vedānta tradition in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to see how philosophical debates and theological conflicts are navigated in genres that have traditionally been regarded as non-philosophical, and by extension, non-scholastic. By so doing, her study interrogates the relationship between literary productions and theological controversy in early modern South India.

Anusha also enjoys translating Sanskrit poetry, a sample of which may be found here: Anusha S Rao: From ‘Saduktikarṇāmṛta’.

Joel Richmond

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  • Sufism
  • Qur’an
  • Islamic Philosophical Theology

Krissy Rogahn

Photp of Krissy Rogahn
  • Tamil Literature
  • South India and Colonialism
  • Language and Genre Theory
Krissy is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion and the collaborative program in Book History and Print Culture. She holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MA from the University of California, Berkeley. She reads in the Tamil literary tradition, with an emphasis on poetry, hagiography, and canon formation. More broadly, her research interests include the history of religion in South India, colonialism and language, and genre theory.

Rebecca Runesson Sanfridson

  • Early Christianity
  • Cultic Associations
  • Roman Society
Rebecca is a doctoral student at the Department for the Study of Religion. She has a BA in Religious Studies from Uppsala University (Sweden) and an MTh in Biblical Studies from the University of Edinburgh (UK). Her research interests revolve around ancient associations, the formation of early Christ groups, and the mechanics behind the spread of cultic associations in antiquity. Her research currently focuses on the spread of Christ cults in Roman military social networks.

Rachelle Saruya

Photo of Rachelle Saruya
  • Buddhism
  • Myanmar/Burma
  • Gender and Monasticism
Rachelle is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion. Her background includes an MA in International Relations with a concentration in Political Society and Culture in Southeast Asia (Waseda University) and more recently an MA in Religious Studies fromLancaster University. Her research interests are within the realm of Myanmar-Burmese Theravada Buddhism and include the topics of gender and Buddhism, monasticism, Abhidhamma, and Burmese Buddhism in the US.

Tony Scott

Photo of Tony Scott
  • South/Southeast Asia
  • Religious Commentary
  • Pali and Burmese Vernacular Literatures
  • Burmese Insight (vipassanā) Meditation
  • Modern Buddhist Statecraft
Tony is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion. His research interest lies in South and Southeast Asian religious commentary and its intersection with communities of practice and twentieth-century statecraft. He currently focuses on the Milindapañha-aṭṭhakathā, a modern Pali commentary on the Questions of King Milinda (circa 1st century B.C.E.) written by a Burmese pioneer of insight (vipassanā) meditation, the Mūla Mingun Jetavan Sayadaw (1868-1954).

James Shire

Photo of James Shire
  • Syriac Christianity
  • Late Antiquity
  • Apocalyptic Literature
James is a second-year PhD student here at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion. His focus is on the late-antique apocalyptic and theological writings of Syriac Christian communities in late antiquity. He recently completed his MA degree at the University of Toronto. His Major Research Paper, “The King Awakens: An Examination of the Figure of the King of the Greeks in Late-Antique Syriac Apocalyptic Literature,” examined the literary construction and application of the ancient mythology of Alexander the Great in late-antique Syriac apocalyptic texts. He also has an MDiv from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and a BA in global history from Pepperdine University.

Austin Simoes-Gomes

Austin Simoes-Gomes in front of Arch
  • Vajrayana Buddhisms (Newar and Tibetan)
  • Ethnography
  • Phenomenology
  • Spirit Possession
Austin is an incoming PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion researching the various spirit possession traditions in the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal). His academic interests also include method and theory, children and religion, and Buddhist birth and embryological narratives. He received his B.A. Honours from McGill University in 2018, where he studied Asian religions and South Asian studies. He also spent a year studying the Rangjung Yeshe Institute (RYI). He is currently finishing up his M.A. at the University of Toronto. At RYI, he did some preliminary ethnographic work on Swayambhu hill with the local Harati dyaḥ māju, a woman who becomes possessed by a deity and then performs ritual healings, and divinations. His current research seeks to situate the dyaḥ māju and their practices in the wider socio-ethnic world and discourses of Nepal. This project will seek to demonstrate how female mediumship disrupts and rearranges established gender and power dynamics, but also how mediums recreate and repurpose these hierarchical systems in a ritualized setting.

Ina Simon

DSR student Ina Simon
  • Religion and Politics
  • Thomas Hobbes
  • Early Modern Political Theory
Ina is a PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Center for Jewish Studies. She has a background in political science (BA) and theological studies (MA). Her principal aim is to explore new conceptual frameworks that capture the intricacies of the interaction between religious and political life in the early modern state. As a case study, she is especially interested in the thought of Thomas Hobbes and in his particular (and peculiar) use of the Hebrew Bible as a main source for modern political theory.

Kavita Singh

Kavita Singh
  • Asceticism
  • Hinduism
  • Eastern India
Kavita Singh is currently completing her MA at the Department of the Study of Religion. She obtained her BA Honours with High Distinction, (a Specialization in The Study of Religion) from the University of Toronto in June 2019. Her research project is about Celibate Monasticism in a Hindu contemporary monastic order called Bharat Sevashram Sangha in West Bengal, India

Alexa Smith

Photo of Alexa Smith
  • Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment
  • Religion and Rhetorical Forms
Alexa is a doctoral student in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Collaborative Program in Jewish Studies and the recipient of a Jackman Junior Fellowship at the Jackman Humanities Institute. She mostly looks at 18th Century alternatives to the prevailing representational regimes and writing styles associated with the Enlightenment and early German Idealism. Her specific interest is the performative distortion of allegorical and typological tropes in the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, J.G. Hamann, and G.E. Lessing, alongside the positions of their interlocutors (living and dead!) in various dialogues and polemics. Other, broadly related interests include the roles of angels, aliens, and animals in theological and pseudo-theological discourses; 20th Century Western narratives of modernity (Spengler, Voegelin, Weber, Barth, Strauss, Blumenberg, and others); and the mostly faltering historical relationships of philology, rhetoric, and hermeneutics between academic and differently or non-institutionalized publics.

Jeizelle Solitario

  • Ethnicity and Religion
  • Filipino Roman Catholicism
Jeizelle is a PhD student focusing on ethnicity and religion in Canada, particularly on the effects of Filipino migration to Roman Catholicism in the region. Previously an MA student whose thesis was on Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of Western sovereignty, Jeizelle retains her love for continental philosophy and history. She is also interested in methods and theory in the study of religion as well as in the intersection of religion and politics in the modern world. Originally from the Philippines, she majored in Religion (Hons) at the University of Manitoba, with a minor in Asian Studies. She eventually finished her joint master’s program in religion in the same university.

Patrick Stange

Photo Patrick Stange
  • Greco-Roman Antiquity
  • Textual Criticism
Patrick Stange is a PhD student, having recently completed his MA at the Department for the Study of Religion. He is primarily interested in Greco-Roman scribal culture along with textual criticism, epigraphy, and papyrology. A California native, he received his BA in Classics from UC Santa Cruz.

Kate Stoehr

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  • Christianity in North America
  • Colonialism in Canada
Kate Stoehr is an MA student at the Department for the Study of Religion. She earned her BA in History and Literature and Critical Theory from the University of Toronto in June 2018. Kate is interested in Christianity in North America and histories of colonialism in Canada. Her research looks at the influence of the Christian worldview on the colonial state’s policies of assimilation related to agriculture in the 19th century. Kate also works with youth as an outdoor educator.

Mirela Stosic

Photo of Mirela Stosic
  • Early Hinduism
  • Upanishads
Mirela Stosic is an MA student at the Department for the Study of Religion. Her project inquires into the social aspect of the Early Upanishads.

Yitong Tong

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  • Buddhism
  • Tocharian A and B
  • Sanskrit
Yitong Tong is an MA student at the University of Toronto, Department for the Study of Religion. He completed his BA at the University of Toronto in 2018. Yitong’s research primarily focuses on texts and thoughts of the mainstream Buddhist schools. In his MA project, he is editing a group of Abhidharma fragments preserved in Tocharian A and B languages, by comparing them with parallels in Sanskrit, Chinese and Uyghur Abhidharma literature.

Pete Tsimikalis

  • Second Temple Judaism
  • Septuagint
  • Genre Theory
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Dead Sea Scrolls
Pete is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion. After finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, Pete completed his MPhil at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Professor Hindy Najman. His dissertation at Oxford focused on the Book of Ben Sira, and specifically on the “Praise of the Fathers” section. Pete is interested in Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and other Second Temple writings in the sphere of both Judaism and early Christianity. He also finds the theoretical frameworks of genre study and collective memory theory useful in his research.

Tenzin Tsundue

MA student Tenzin Tsundue
  • Buddhism
  • Tibet
  • Science and psychology
Tenzin is an M.A. student at Department for the Study of Religion in collaboration with the Center of Diaspora and Transnational Studies. She has a B.Sc. Hons majoring in Psychology and Human Biology and a minor in Buddhism and Mental Health. Tenzin’s area of focus is on the tantric practices of empowerment in Tibetan Buddhism. Tenzin’s research focuses on the evolution and adaptation of Tibetan Buddhist practices both inside and outside Tibet. She is also interested in the interaction of Buddhism with science, psychology and education.

Ian Turner

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  • Nepal
  • Newar Buddhism
  • Space and Ritual
My work encompasses a variety of ritual, social and architectural practices that characterize the domestic lives and spaces of the Newar Buddhists of Nepal. Daily ritual practice, intersections between food culture and ritual, gender relations in the home and in religious participation, and the division and allocation of space in a Newar house are just some of the topics I am investigating.

Parnia Vafaeikia

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  • Shi’ism
  • Transnational Islam
  • Anthropology of Islam
  • Iran
Parnia is a PhD candidate at the department. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of British Columbia in Interdisciplinary Studies with focuses on gender and Islamic jurisprudential texts.

As an anthropologist of Islam, her PhD research is shaped around the phenomenological perceptions and practices of waiting, hope, and future among Shi’i communities.

Suzanne van Geuns

Photo of Suzanne van Geuns
  • Religion and Politics
  • Race and Gender
  • Contemporary Christianity
Suzanne van Geuns is a doctoral student at the DSR. Her dissertation project is an ethnographic investigation of three overlapping online subcultures that use the internet to launch right-wing futures: conservative Christianity, antifeminism, and white nationalism. All three of these fields are characterized by the conviction that they are salvaging beleaguered truths about reality from feminist/leftist/multiculturalist suppression. This project asks how these subcultures connect such transcendental truths to the material world, investigating what techniques are brought together online to make a white, rigidly gendered, and/or biblical world not only feel desirable, but also tangibly real. Mapping the online infrastructures of right-wing aspiration, this project renders the futures they generate debatable in new ways.

Valeria Vergani

  • Contemporary North America
  • Interfaith Movement
Valeria is a Masters student in the Department for the Study of Religion. Born and raised in Verona, Italy, Valeria moved to Canada in 2012 to pursue her bachelors degree at Quest University Canada in British Columbia. There she researched the impact of western secular education on the transmission of Buddhism in the country of Bhutan. After working for two years as a community organizer in the areas of interreligious dialogue and action, Valeria joined the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto to explore contemporary modalities of indigenous representation in the North American interfaith movement.

Meaghan Weatherdon

Photo of Meaghan Weatherdon
  • Contemporary Canada
  • Religion and Politics
  • Spirituality
A PhD student in the Department for the Study of Religion, Meaghan earned her BA in Religion and Law from Carleton University and her MA in Religion and Modernity from Queen’s University. She will be focusing on the relationship between environment, social justice, religion and Indigenous Knowledge. In particular she is interested in examining how Indigenous spirituality shapes contemporary environmental and social movements in Canada.

Joel West

Photo of Joel West
  • Semiotics of Religion
  • Jewish History
  • Modern Judaism
  • Popular Culture
  • Constructions of Judaism in Popular Culture
Joel West is a former stand-up comedian and current story teller. His undergraduate work was also at the University of Toronto, where he majored in Semiotics and in the study of Religion. Originally from Montreal, he is a Master’s degree student, doing work in Judaism in the mid and late 20th century and how it constructed itself in North America. His current publications include works on popular culture, linguistic anthropology and semiotics of religion.

Andrea Wollein

  • Newar, Tibetan, and Theravāda Buddhism
  • Ethnography
Andrea is a PhD student at the Department for the Study of Religion. She received both her MA in Modern South Asian Studies and her BA in Tibetology and Buddhist Studies from the University of Vienna. Her dissertation deals with the current situation of Newar Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Theravāda Buddhism in the ancient Nepalese town of Bhaktapur. In particular, her ethnographic case study seeks to explore the dynamics between these three Buddhisms.

Mahshid Zandi

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  • Contemporary Religion and Politics
  • Iran-Iraq War
Mahshid Zandi is a transfer PhD student, researching the interconnectedness of religion and politics in the case of the Iran-Iraq War, its ritualized commemoration, and memory sites.