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Problem of the Unthought: Black Studies and the Study of Religion – Past/Present/Futures

General Programming

dateSeptember 28–29, 2023 location Pulitzer Hall (Journalism School), Columbia University28 September location (3rd Floor Lecture Hall) location Faculty House, Skyline Level (4th Floor), Columbia University29 September location
  • Department of Religion
  • The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • The Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender
  • Barnard Center for Research on Women
  • The Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University
  • African American and African Diaspora Studies Department
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Poster featuring the text for the conference.

A two-day conference centering around a series of conversations (rather than formal paper presentations), and featuring an opening “state of the field” roundtable and a final dialogue focused on the role of public-facing scholarship. Each conversation is organized around a specific discipline or approach within the broader interdisciplinary mode of intellectual inquiry named as Black Studies. Each conversation is organized by a series of shared questions facilitated by a moderator, who will help to explore the place of religion in the context of black studies with a focus on how the “discipline” (i.e. literary studies, history, anthropology, etc.) helps us to think through, and theorize, the significance of religion in the making of black social life. Panels are aimed to put scholars at different stages in their careers into conversation with one another and with the audience.

DAY 1: Thursday, September 28, 2023

10:00-10:30 Welcome and Opening Remarks
Josef Sorett, Columbia University
Tiffany Hale, Barnard College
Joseph Winters, Duke University

10:30am-12:30pm Africana / Indigeneity / Invisibility: A Roundtable on Black Studies and
the Study of Religion

Moderator: Jason Young, University of Michigan
1. Youseff Carter, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
2. Eziaku Nwokocha, University of Miami
3. Xavier Pickett, Cornell University
4. J.T. Roane Rutgers University
5. Ashley Coleman Taylor, University of Texas-Austin

12:30-2:00pm Lunch (on your own)

2:00-3:30pm Literature & Texts

Moderator: Monica Coleman, University of Delaware
1. Karla Holloway, Duke University (Emeritus)
2. Maurice Wallace, Rutgers University
3. Jarvis McInnis, Duke University

3:45-5:15pm Archives and Fields

Moderator: Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Harvard Divinity School
1. Barbara Savage, University of Pennsylvania (Emeritus)
2. Deborah Thomas, University of Pennsylvania
3. Khalil Johnson, Wesleyan University


DAY 2: Friday, September 29, 2023

10:30am-12:00pm Theories/Methods I: Philosophy, Critical Thought, Theology

Moderator: Andrea White, Union Theological Seminary
1. William Hart, Macalester College
2. Shatema Threadcraft, Vanderbilt University
3. Clifton Granby, Yale Divinity School

12:00-1:30pm Lunch (on your own)

1:30 - 3:00pm Theories/Methods II: Gender, Sexuality & Queer Religious Life

Moderator: Jafari Allen, Columbia University
1. Jennifer Morgan, New York University
2. Shamara Alhassan, Arizona State University
3. Alexis Oghoghomeh-Wells, Stanford University

3:15-4:45pm Religion and the Public Lives of Black Studies

Moderator: M. Brandon McCormack, University of Louisville
1. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Independent Scholar
2. Lerone Martin, Stanford University
3. nyle fort, Columbia University

4:45-5:00pm Final Remarks
Josef Sorett