Department of Religious Studies

Welcome Dr. Crosson!

Thu, September 24, 2015
Welcome Dr. Crosson!
Assistant Professor J. Brent Crosson

In Fall 2015, Dr. J. Brent Crosson joined the faculty of the Religious Studies Department as an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Crosson has already had a distinguished academic career with several fellowships of note, including an ACLS-Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship. He completed his PhD at UC Santa Cruz in Anthropology in 2014. Mostly recently he held the position of Ruth Landes Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University.

His research examines the intersection of science, religion, and law in the Americas. In particular, his work on the complex categories of science, healing, and the practice of obeah in the Caribbean have been recognized in major journals of anthropology. He took the pictures below at a field site in Trinidad.

a leader in a practice known as the Trinidadian Kabbalah

Above: A leader in a practice known as the Trinidadian Kabbalah, which combines the study of esoteric texts with spirit manifestation ceremonies known as Banquets. The Trinidadian Kabbalah combines a diversity of elements from practices of science, Kongo religions, Freemasonry, or Egyptology.

Dr. Crosson has conducted fieldwork in Trinidad and the Caribbean over the past nine years.  His next project examines how petroleum geologists and spiritual healers sense what lies below the earth in Venezuela and Trinidad's Orinoco Basin, the world's largest proven reserve of heavy crude oil and natural gas. This past year he helped to found a volunteer program through World Wide opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) on the farm of the family he lived with in Trinidad. 

A female pujari manifests the goddess Katerie Ma and another pujari asks the goddess for advice

Above: A female pujari manifests the goddess Katerie Ma and another pujari asks the goddess for advice

This semester, he is teaching a course new to UT—“Magic, Science, and Religion”—that is already popular among our students. He is excited to be living in Austin and looks forward to working with students around questions of diasporic religions in the Americas and the lines between science and religion more broadly.

 

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