Religion in the North American West

2022-2023 Symposium 

The Williams P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art examined religion in the North American West in a two-part symposium to workshop their papers leading to an edited volume. The symposium and resulting volume will examine the religious, spiritual, and secular histories of the Trans-Mississippi West, focusing on the West(s) created by the contact of settler-colonists, migrants, and indigenous peoples from the 16th to 21st centuries.

Participants include:

* Jim Bennett (Santa Clara University), “The West Coast Origins of the Anti-cult Movement”;
* Carleigh Beriont (Harvard University), “Ever ‘Westward the Course of Empire Takes’: American Religion and the U.S. West in the 20th Century Pacific”; 
* Tom Bremer (Rhodes College), "Icons of Whiteness: Race and Religion in US National Parks"; 
* Jon Garcia (University of Southern California), "There Will be Blood: Atonement and Agency in 19th Century Penitente Communities"
* Lynne Gerber (Independent Scholar), “Dealing with the Sacred and Religious: AIDS, Religion, and Spirituality in San Francisco’s Ward 5B”; 
* Jen Graber (University of Texas-Austin), “Life in a Cannibal Country: Chinese and Paiute Rites of Care and Feeding”; 
* Maxwell Greenberg (Washington-St. Louis University), “Jewish "Pioneers' Cemeteries: Preserving and Exhuming the Myth of Religions Freedom in the America West”;
* Brennan Keegan  (College of Charleston), “The Working West: Religion, Labor, and the Making of Western Spaces”; 
* Nicole Kirk (Meadville Lombard Theological School), “Circus Religion”; 
* Andrew Klumpp (State Historical Society of Iowa), “Dutch Calvinist Imperials in the Trans-Mississippi West: Dispossession, Community Building, and Global Engagement in the Nineteenth Century”; 
* Chrissy Yee Lau (California State University-Monterey Bay), “The Expansion of St. Mary's Japanese Episcopal Mission in the Interwar Era;”
* Quincy D. Newell (Hamilton College), “Thoroughly Secular Saints: Enacting Modernity in Utah during the 1918 Influenza Epidemic”; 
* Joshua Paddison (Texas State University), “Thomas Lake Harris: ‘Cults,’ and the American West” 

Participants met twice to present and workshop their papers: once at SMU’s satellite campus in Taos, New Mexico, in the fall of 2022, and a second time at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, in spring 2023.  Conference co-conveners, Brandi Denison (University of North Florida) and Brett Hendrickson (Lafayette College) will edit the papers and convene the workshops.  

For more information about the symposium, contact the conference co-conveners or the Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

Image: Group at the SMU-in-Taos campus.