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REL 3161 Special Topics: Spirituality and Sustainability with Prof. Pliske

REL 3194 The Holocaust with Dr. Stier

REL 3398 Sacred Rhythms with Prof. McDaniel

REL 4063 Faith in Social Justice with Prof. Smith

REL 4081 Non-Violence and Peace Studies with Prof. Samani Rohini

REL 4173 Technology and Human Values with Dr. Bauman

REL 4363 Sufism: Islamic Mysticism and Spirituality with Visitor Instructor Prof. Grenier

REL 4364 Interpreting the Quran: Gender and Jihab with Dr. Akhtar

REL 4937 Special Topics: Religion & Science Fiction with Prof. Smith

RLG 5937 The Social Sciences Humanities and the Study of Religions with Professor Bidegain

RLG 6935 Seminar in Sacred Text with Dr. Akhtar

Lastest News

Aashi Jain

08/01/2021

Degree: Master of Arts, Religious Studies College: Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU presents #BeWell, a wellness event series

03/09/2021

“We are keenly aware that it is especially important that people are nurturing their inner lives and well-being during these challenging and uncertain times,” said Erin Weston, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Religious Studies and director of the Program in the Study of Spirituality at FIU.

A professor acts on his beliefs, Dr. Iqbal Akhtar

01/08/2021

Iqbal Akhtar thought living his faith should translate into buying a home in a community where he could do the most good.

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Graduate Spring 2021 Thesis

FIU RELIGIOUS STUDIES DEPARTMENT

*Master's Theses Defenses on ZOOM for Spring 2021

1.Title: Innumerable Answers: Sephardi Identity & Legitimacy in the Age of Direct-to-Consumer DNA Tests.

by Caitlyn Rose Campana

Abstract:

Today, individuals may purchase genetic tests that promise to “reveal” one’s “true self” through ancestry composition reports, health reports, and lists of DNA relatives. Such tests add another dimension to the ongoing debate about what it means to be Jewish, but also what it means to be “legitimately” Sephardi. Through qualitative interviews, this thesis illuminates the experiences of Sephardim who received identity-affirming DNA test results and Sephardim who received identity non-affirming DNA test results. Findings suggest that contemporary Sephardim consider a link to the Iberian Peninsula as indicative of Sephardi identity, despite expanding definitions of the label. They also suggest that motivations for taking at-home DNA tests may be overwhelmingly relational in nature. Respondents with an ambiguous identity orientation tended to assign more importance to their test results, while respondents with a less ambiguous identity orientation tended to do the opposite, in keeping with my hypothesis that at-home DNA tests are only as “authoritative” or meaningful as individuals or groups want them to be.

Date: March 22, 2021 Time: 2:30 p.m. Major Professor: Dr. Tudor Parfitt Place: Virtual defense Link Join Zoom Meeting link to view on Zoom

Meeting ID: 978 4762 4334

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2.Title: The Use of Religion in Violent Conflict, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding: Cases from Uganda and Sierra Leone. By Sedinam Akosua Kumah

Abstract:

Noted as one of the most notorious rebels in Africa, The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been known to commit inexcusable atrocities in Uganda, raiding villages to kill, kidnap, and loot. Since 1989, Uganda has been in a state of constant conflict because of the activities of the LRA. In this study I identify the political milieu which fomented political unrest in Uganda leading to the emergence of the LRA. Additionally, I examine the operations of the LRA, while uncovering the spiritual order it professed and also weaponized in its campaign of violence. After Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war, the country is attempting to reconstruct what was lost to the war through approaches such as Pentecostalism, reconciliation, and reparations. I delve into the antecedents of the war and the different types of peace attainable by a nation. I dwell on the use of religion in these approaches, and the efforts made by the many religious leaders and practitioners to promote peace.

In completing this case study, the dominant methodology used was library research, with information gathered from documentaries, books, and scholarly articles mainly from the fields of Political Science, African Studies, and Religious Studies. I conclude that the LRA, instead of being considered to be an unorganized group of bandits perpetrating violence and using the goal of enforcing God’s commandments as a guise, was rather an organized group with some military training who adhered to strict rules. Additionally, I gather that although several peace approaches used in Sierra Leone contributed to the peace it is currently enjoying, transformative approaches were much more engaged- and preferred- in fostering peace. Date: March 23, 2021.
Time: 2:00p.m Major Professor: Dr. Albert Wuaku
Place: Zoom Click link to view Zoom

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3.Title: "Sacred Herbs and Ancient Healers: Decolonizing Traditional Mexican Medicinal Practices" By Julio Carmona

Abstract:

Traditional Mexican medicine is not only plants and herbs but a harmonious balance between man and nature. For the Aztecs, maintaining that balance was imperative to have a sustainable diet and a good relationship with the ecology that surrounds them. Unfortunately, the duality of the "microcosm" and nature has been disappearing from Mesoamerican thought and rhetoric of inferiority to European thoughts such as the philosophy of traditional Mexican medicine. The Aztec diet was rich in nutrients, vitamins, and amino acids. One of the essential Mesoamerican medicine manuscripts is the Badiano Codex, which has more than 150 plants. Phytochemical studies have shown that secondary metabolites of the plants used by the Aztecs and now the Nahuas have biological activity that can help cure illnesses and opens new doors to the study of traditional Mexican medicine.
Date: March 26, 2021.
Time: 10.am

Major Professor: Prof. Ana -Maria Bidegain
Place: Zoom Online Through Zoom Meeting Id: 916 0800 1089

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4.Title: TRACING THE AMERINDIAN INFLUENCE ON THE CARIBBEAN DIASPORA’S BELIEFS AND PRACTICES: A STUDY OF THE AFRICAN AND INDIGENOUS CARIBBEAN RELIGIOUS ENCOUNTER AND ITS INDELIBLE SIGNS by Alejandro Casas Reyes\

Abstract:

It has been five hundred and twenty eight years since the Spanish colonial presence that occasioned the annihilation of the Amerindians of the Caribbean and portions of Latin America started. Yet, the Amerindian influence is still felt all over the Caribbean and Latin America. Identifying what these influences are and where they are found, however, are questions that have not been fully answered. Passing references have been made in many works to these influences, but there is no comprehensive study on the subject; especially in the Caribbean. In that the scant literature available on the subject matter offers very little insight into the significance of the Amerindian influence on Afro-Caribbean religions, there is an urgent need for a sincere and more comprehensive inquiry into this issue. Following this line of thinking, the focus of this project is on the Taino and Carib religions and the signs of its influence on the Afro-Caribbean Religion of Palo Monte.
Date: March 25, 2021.

Time: 11:00am Major Professor: Dr. Albert Wuaku

Place: Zoom Click link to Zoom Meeting ID: 976 9063 4112 Passcode: 90s1V9

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5.Title: Exploring the Role of Islamic Identity in the Rise of Boko Haram By Samuel Kayode Atewologun

Abstract:

The purpose of this thesis is to explore the roles of Islamic identities in the rise of Boko Haram in the North-eastern part of Nigeria. The rise of Boko Haram is an identity of Muslim exceptionalism in northern Nigeria tied to the region’s history of political autonomy. A unique combination of factors in the north based on “personal, societal, cultural, and historical humiliation and shame, and a loss of self-respect and dignity” have led to this form of extremism that have since seen a decline in local support for Boko Haram since its creation in 2002 This study’s significance is to contribute to the continued research and understanding of Boko Haram as an Islamic identity movement based on the unique political history of Northern Nigeria drawing on the grievance of Muslim powerlessness in the postcolonial African state. Interpretations for the rise of movements commonly identified with militant extremism in the Islamic World tend to rely on aspects of materialism and brainwashing. At the same time, there is substantial evidence to the contrary, as Muslim militants, uneducated poor, and unemployed graduates are the most profiled. If Islamic extremism is to be appreciated entirely and eventually overcome, it is argued that it must be regarded as a multi-faceted phenomenon triggered by multiple economic, political, social, cultural, and psychological factors in combination.

Date: March 26, 2021

Time: 12:00 pm Major Professor: Carlos Grenier. Place: Via Zoom Link Join Zoom Meeting Click link to Zoom

Meeting ID: 995 9325 5935 Passcode: 9?JF83