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Essay

Myth “Today”: Reading Media and Religion into the Cultural Politics of the Times

On June 1, 2020, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, stood in front of an Anglican church across the street from the White House and held up a copy of the Bible for a photograph.  This incident became, within days, a signal event in the contentious, roiling history of Trump politics.  As […]

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Culture Is Everything

The Covid-19 crisis looked like it might be a moment of universal solidarity.  Indeed, most Americans (and most others throughout the world) have come together to meet this unprecedented challenge.  This has included nearly universal public support for health workers, first responders, and the many, many hourly and casual workers who are keeping the whole […]

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Why Asking Bloomberg ‘But Are You Personally Vegan?’ Misses the Mark

Ecopolicy and collective action, not personal ecopiety, are the way forward on climate change. Billionaire entrepreneur and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ruffled his fair share of feathers with his late entry into the Presidential race. Pundits debate whether this move is helpful by hitting President Trump hard with record-setting aggressive ad […]

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Affective Infrastructures

I have been working from two directions in the development of our discourse here.  The first direction, obviously, is my own work that began in one place, and still is there, but has verged out of that place recently.  The second direction, is to use my work, and our conversations to push the development of […]

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The Powerful Religious Rhetoric of Donald Trump’s Hair

Donald Trump’s hair is a sacred matter. Not too long ago, our Center for Global Culture and Communication at Northwestern University held a fascinating conference on popular culture, populist politics, and media ethics in the age of Trump. There were excellent presentations from a wide range of scholars. As I was the only Religious Studies […]

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Virtual Reality Spaces: From the Profane to the Sacred

Over the last several years I have developed a large scale research project exploring the role of developing Internet technology in the ritual practices of the Tibetan Diaspora Community. “The Cyber Lama and the Virtual Sangha” is examining how computer-mediated-communications can become a central tool in the religious and ritual practices of a globally dispersed religious […]

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In the City of the Golem

For nearly two decades, the Golem of Prague has stood on my desk, watching over every word I write. A souvenir knick-knack depiction of Jewish folklore’s most famous monster, it was a gift from a friend who had recently returned from vacation in the Czech Republic, sometime around the end of the last millennium. These […]

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An (the) Object

My project is best understod within the broad framework of cultural studies.  I see my task as a scholar to point out things that are “hiding in plain sight” in our cultural-historical geographies of discourse, circulation, meaning and action. This is not a simple task of textual analysis, but instead a deeply consequential inquiry into the […]

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The Very Local Global

When the first opportunity for electric speech across the Atlantic Ocean was realized with the 1858 transatlantic telegraph cable, the United States erupted into celebration. Parades wended their way through east coast cities, national figures gave grand speeches about instantaneous global unity, and fireworks lit up the sky. Artists produced memorabilia—from lithographs to coins—to commemorate […]

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Ruins of Wall Street

A stone tower stands on the western edge of Wall Street, the cluster of structures that one finds by turning left where the paved road ends up Four Mile Canyon, exactly ten miles in all from the center of Boulder, Colorado. The tower is a remnant of a gold processing mill that was to be the beginning of a worker-owned mining empire, which would resolve once and for all the late nineteenth century’s violent, intractable conflicts between labor and capital, a model for the world to copy.