Campus News

Religion professor hosts anthropology, theology conference

Derrick Lemons, a faculty member in the religion department of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, recently hosted the mini-conference “Theologically-Engaged Anthropology.”

Funded with a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the meeting is one of two mini-conferences being held to form collaborations between anthropologists and theologians from around the world. Scholars Joel Robbins, University of Cambridge; Francis X. Clooney, Harvard Divinity School; Don Seeman, Emory University; Brian Howell, Wheaton College; Paul Kollman, University of Notre Dame; Jon Bialecki, University of Edinburgh; Timothy Larsen, Wheaton College; Michael Rynkiewich, Asbury Theological Seminary; James Bielo, Miami University-Ohio; and Khaled Furani, Tel Aviv University, were invited to the conference.

Along with Lemons, the scholars met Sept. 20-22 in Atlanta to discuss what theology could contribute to cultural anthropology and ethnography. Everyone wrote a paper addressing the topic, and each paper was discussed at length. These papers, along with the works from the second conference in February in England, will be combined and published in an edited book.

“This conversation attempts to rectify a historical split between theology and anthropology and take advantage of the obvious commonalities,” said Clooney, director of Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions. “But it is a complicated subject and needs further study.”