November 18, 2011
DALLAS (SMU) – The American Academy of Religion will present its prestigious Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion to SMU Religious Studies Professor Johan Elverskog at its annual meeting November 19-22 in San Francisco.
Elverskog, a SMU Altshuler University Distinguished Teaching Professor, is being recognized in the area of historical studies for his book, Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road, about the historic interaction between Buddhism and Islam. The book also has won a CHOICE Award from the Association of College & Research Libraries and a 2011 SMU Godbey Lecture Series Annual Author’s Award.
While the meeting of Buddhism and Islam is often perceived as a long-standing, self-repeating violent clash, Elverskog's examination finds the history of the two religions is much richer and varied. By exploring the meetings between Buddhists and Muslims along the Silk Road from Iran to China over more than a millennium — from the eighth century to the late 19th century — he finds a history of cross-cultural exchange in which the two religious traditions were not only enriched but transformed in many ways.
The AAR award recognizes new scholarly publications that make significant contributions to the study of religion through “distinctive originality, intelligence, creativity and importance; books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted.”
The American Academy of Religion is the primary professional society for scholars from all fields of religious and theological studies. Its mission is to promote the understanding of religious traditions, issues, questions, and values through excellence in scholarship and teaching.
Elverskog is also the director of Asian Studies and the SMU-in-Suzhou Program. He teaches courses on the history of Asian religions, and his research focuses on the history of Inner Asia. He is the author and editor of six other books. He currently is at Stanford University on a research fellowship with the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.
SMU's Department of Religious Studies in Dedman College is committed to fostering greater understanding of the roles of religion in the contemporary world and throughout history. Its approach is interdisciplinary, employing methods drawn from across the humanities and social sciences to examine the world’s religious traditions as social, cultural, and historical phenomena.
Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Hear or download an interview with Elverskog by the Penn Press.
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