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The approaches to religion in this seminar range from the philosophical through the anthropological to the historical and comparative. We concern ourselves with religion in all of its manifestations—ancient and modern, primitive and civilized, heretical and orthodox, individual and cosmic. The guiding thread is whatever subjects are uppermost in the minds of those composing the membership at a given time. Since members come from different disciplines as well as different traditions and have a variety of personal orientations, we are assured maximum openness and flexibility.

Tony Carnes

Sidney Greenfield

Shreyaa Suresh

Meeting Schedule

09/13/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM


10/04/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM


11/15/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Regimes of Happiness: Civilizations, Disease and the Search for a Fulfilled Life--Joint meeting with (411)
Yuri Contreras-Vejar, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile


The notion ‘regimes of happiness’ is an attempt to capture and define the elusive nature and role of the ideals of human fulfillment in human societies. They are not mere mores or ethical aspirations. Regimes of happiness are social configurations that enact and articulate ethical ideals, which as complex articulations of ideologies concatenations of iconographic imageries and discourses—help social groups and societies to navigate natural and social uncertainties and catastrophes. Regimes of happiness are practical; they effect praxes, and their efficacies determine their abilities to produce lasting effects: institutions. Either as structured organizations or as ensembles of social roles, institutions are key articulators of authority. Regimes of
happiness define what is desirable, acceptable, and permissible.

To illustrate these analytical distinctions, the lecture “Regimes of Happiness: Civilizations, Disease and the Search of a Fulfilled Life” will focus on the rise of monasticism at the end of the Latin Roman Empire, the transformation of religious orders in Medieval Europe and the reorganization of social life during the Protestant revolutions.

12/06/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM


03/06/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM


03/20/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Reflections on the Queens Religion Project--Joint meeting with (411)
Richard Cimino, Founding Editor, Religion Watch

Hans Tokke, New York City College of Technology

04/03/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
What is an Evangelical? An Insider/Outsider Bioethnoconfession--Joint meeting with (411)
Daniel Varisco ,


As an anthropologist who grew up in a Fundamentalist household and went to an Evangelical college to major in biblical archaeology before becoming an avowed agnostic, this talk will be a kind of reflection as an insider/outsider. The talk will be divided into three parts, which I pose as questions for the sake of argument. 1. Coming to terms with the terms: can the term “Evangelical” be understood apart from its roots in “Fundamentalist”? 2. Coming to terms with my own religious upbringing: is it possible to leave a religion without it always being an issue to personally deal with? 3. Coming to terms with the current Trump-doting “MAGA Evangelicals”: what role does or should “God” play in politics? I will provide a handout of resources to better understand the history of Evangelicalism in America, including previous ethnographic analysis.

05/08/2024 Zoom
7:30 PM
Live, Work and Pray in New York City: Brazilian immigrants and ethnic-religious entrepreneurship--Joint meeting with (411)
Donizete Rodrigues,

Sidney Greenfield,