photo of Laura Boles
Laura Boles

The Jackman Humanities Institute has appointed six Undergraduate Fellows for 2011-2012, and two of these are Religion majors. JHI Undergraduate Fellows are linked with faculty fellows who supervise the students’ research projects. Students have carrel space at the JHI and participate in JHI activities.

Laura Boles (pictured at right), a Religion, English, and Spanish and Portuguese major, plans during her year-long fellowship to study representations of diaspora and religion in post-9/11 fiction. Her research proposal asks, “How has 9/11 changed the relationship between the immigrant in the United States and the immigrant in Canada, if at all? What do these writings show about the difficulties of assimilation?”

Religion and Buddhist Studies Specialist Christopher Hiebert’s JHI research project is a study of the shifting perceptions and utilization of sacred space in contemporary Tibetan communities in Dharamsala, India, where he will be this summer, and Toronto, over next year. He is particularly interested in how Tibetan concepts and practices associated with sacred geography have mapped onto the urban geography of Toronto and how Tibetan religious practices have changed as a result of being transferred to a “demystified,” urban environment.

Mr. Hiebert has also been awarded a University of Toronto Excellence Award in the Social Sciences and Humanities, of which only seven are awarded at the University. For this project, he will work with Professor Frances Garret’s research project, Gold, Statue, Text: Visualizing Movement in Tibetan History. Mr. Hiebert will work on mapping sacred Buddhist sites around the Tibetan settlement in Dharamsala, India, analyzing how Tibetans conceive of, construct, and relate to sacred spaces, assessing the types of sacred spaces that Tibetans create (such as monasteries or natural features of the landscape), and documenting the matrix of practices (such as pilgrimage, circumambulation, and rituals) that are connected to specific sacred spaces.