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2005-2006 Visiting Fellows


From left to right: Jonathan Baer, Martin Kavka, Ryo Nishimura, Jason Springs, Abderrahman Ulfat, and Susan Bales. Not pictured: Oliver Krueger.

Susan Ridgely Bales received h er Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral fellow at Carleton College form 2003-2005. Her research focuses on the importance of age as a category of analysis in religious studies. More specifically she is interested in accessing children's interpretations of their religious lives. Her current project explores the various ways in which members of the conservative Evangelical organization Focus on the Family incorporate Focus's prescriptions on childrearing into their daily lives. Her book When I was a Child: Children's Interpretations of First Communion, which was based on her dissertation research, was recently published by the University of North Carolina Press. She also contributed "Sweet Tea and Rosary Beads: An An Analysis of Catholicism in the South at the Millennium" to Religion in the South in the Millennium edited by Corrie Norman and Donald Armentrout. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005.
Martin Kavka received his Ph.D. in religion from Rice University in 2000, and is currently on leave from his position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Florida State University.  He is the author of Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2004), as well as several articles on phenomenology, Jewish philosophy, and Jewish metaethics.  While at Princeton, he is working on a manuscript provisionally entitled The Perils of Covenant, which argues that the trend in latter 20th-century Jewish theology to conflate the secular and sacred realms leads to a comprehensive liberalism (to use John Rawls’ phrase) that risks being both politically obsolete and religiously fanatical, and uses the Talmudic legends of the rabbinic academy at Yavneh to construct a Jewish Rawlsian political liberalism.
Jason Springs completed his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion at Harvard University in June 2005. His research and teaching interests include modern Christian thought, religious social ethics, philosophical theology, and the interaction of politics and religion in North American public life. In his dissertation, “Between Barth and Wittgenstein: Pragmatist Themes in Hans Frei’s ‘Postliberal’ Theology,” he traced out practical and theoretical congruities between recent pragmatist philosophy and postliberal theology. At the CSR he intends to complete and revise a manuscript tentatively titled “A Generous Orthodoxy: Theory, Practice and Politics in a ‘Postliberal’ Vein.” These revisions will expand the ethical and political implications of the theoretical analysis that he executed in his dissertation, and then place these claims in critical conversation with current uses of religion in North American public life.

2005-2006 Affiliate Fellows

Jonathan Baer is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He received an M.Phil. from Queens’ College, University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in American religious history from Yale University. He has authored several articles and review essays in journals such as Church History and Reviews in Religion and Theology. Currently, he is working on a book manuscript entitled “Perfectly Empowered Bodies: Divine Healing in Modernizing America,” which examines faith healing in the holiness and early Pentecostal movements from 1870-1930. He will spend his year at the Center preparing this manuscript for publication, including writing new chapters on African-American holiness and Pentecostal healing, the role of gender and the ideology of domesticity in centers for divine healing known as “faith homes,” and the influence of the healing ministry in overseas missions. He will also work on a study examining the relationship of religion to health and wellness in the contemporary U.S.
Oliver Krueger received his Ph.D. in Comparative Studies of Religion from the University of Bonn (Germany) in 2003. His dissertation „Virtualitaet und Unsterblichkeit. Die Visionen des Posthumanismus (Virtuality and Immortality. The Visions of Posthumanism)“ was published in 2004 and was awarded with the dissertation award of the German Association for the History of Religion (DVRG). As a research fellow at the Collaborative Research Center “ Dynamics of Rituals ” at Heidelberg University (Germany) from 2002 to 2005, he focused on the ritual discourse on the Internet in the field of Wicca and Neopaganism. There, together with other researchers he initiated “ Online - Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet. ” In this time he taught at the Institute for the Study of Religion at Heidelberg University. His central fields of research and teaching are the sociology of religion, new religious movements, and media and religion. His new research project at the CSR deals with “ American Funeral Culture between Commercialisation and Solidarity. ”
Ryo Nishimura is a research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. She received her Ph.D. from Tohoku University in 2004 in the fields of Japanese Intellectual History and Japanese Buddhism. She was a research fellow of the Eastern Institute (Toho Kenkyukai) in 2004-2005.  Dr. Nishimura has published several articles and review essays on Japanese Buddhism and history. Her research as a whole aims at clarifying the process of traditional Buddhism's modernization in Japan.  Scholarship has treated Buddhist modernization as beginning in Japan's Meiji period (1868-1912); however, developments in Buddhist thought from the 17th-19th centuries foreshadow distinctions of "secular" and "religious" that would prevail in the modern era. To illuminate the earlier roots of Buddhist modernization, Dr. Nishimura researches transformations in Buddhist thought of the 18th century, using both historical and doctrinal approaches. Currently she is working on a manuscript entitled "Buddhist Thought in Early Modern Japan: Theory and Practice," examining early modern Buddhist thought by focusing on Fujaku (1707-1781), a scholar-monk representative of traditional Buddhism. Dr. Nishimura also works on the Buddhist traditions of the Southern Capital (Nara) and plans to investigate broad issues in the transformations of Buddhist thought from Japan's medieval through modern periods .
Abderrahman P. Ulfat Al-Sayed Abderrahman Ulfat, the son of Gul Pacha Ulfat, was born in Kabul Afghanistan on May 22, 1942. His father, a poet and writer in Pashto language, established a literary style that is followed by the new generation of poets and writers in the country. Abderrahman Ulfat went to the US ('63-'73), earning degrees (BS, MA and PhD) at University of Maryland. Throughout the Soviet occupation of his country ('79-'92) he was in close contact with the Afghan Resistance as he accepted a position in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Planning and served in key positions for 14 years. He was a member in two Assemblies and a select consulting group that were called upon by the Resistance. In his written advice to the Resistance and the friendly governments, he emphasized the imminence of a pull out by the USSR but its success in sowing the seeds of internal strife. He refused to visit Afghanistan while ruled by Taliban; they did not heed his advice except the ban on narcotics. He also refused premiership for the opposition upon the demise of Mr.Ghafourzai in a helicopter crash.In 1987, he joined the Saudi Arabian academy of sciences (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology), where he had to ponder the failure of Islamic countries in Science and Technology. Research and scientific institutions were visited in the US, Germany, Britain, Turkey, Indonesia, Syria, Malaysia, etc. Many strategic studies on the subject were reviewed; and a sabbatical year at Harvard ('95-'96) provided the opportunity to coalesce some thoughts in a manuscript entitled: "The Re-institutionalization of Science and Technology in Islamic Countries." From 2000-2005, he worked as an advisor in the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. He participated in the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, The Oxford Energy Seminar in 2003, and numerous other seminars and discussion panels. In 2005 he received a Fulbright scholarship, hosted by Princeton University, to pursue his research on the institutionalization of Science and Technology in Islamic countries through the development of a “worldly Islamic vision” that will enable the Muslims a parallel pursuit of Godliness with secular productivity.