As Managing Editor of The Immanent Frame, Mona Oraby curates thematic forums and forums on new books in the study of religion, secularism, and the public sphere. Forums feature original, invited essays from scholars across the humanities and social sciences, and advance debates that traverse disciplinary boundaries.


Crossing and conversion

Conversion commonly refers to a change in interiorized religious belief, and a conversion’s authenticity is typically measured by the sincerity of that belief. Yet recent scholarship across the humanities and the social sciences reveals the limitations of such a framework, which not only bears an unmistakeable Christian bias but also, and more significantly, fails to situate conversion practices and the convert within broader transcultural and transhistorical border crossings.

This forum draws on a range of historical and contemporary case studies to show that conversions rarely converge on the question of belief or sincerity alone. Instead, conversions reflect protracted controversies over communal maintenance, self-identity, rituals of belonging, state governance, and international norms in which the question of belief or sincerity may figure. The convert, who is said to have endured a fractured self, far from merely sheds old ties and joins a new community or aligns individual identity with outward performance.


Modernity’s resonances: New inquiries into the secular

Following a format introduced in the Fall 2018 forum “Science and the soul: New inquiries into Islamic ethics,” this forum features eighteen essays discussing four recent books and the themes and topics emergent from them.

The four books included in this discussion are Credulity by Emily Ogden (University of Chicago Press, 2018), The Resonance of Unseen Things by Susan Lepselter (University of Michigan Press, 2016), The Story of Radio Mind by Pamela Klassen (University of Chicago, 2018), and Magic’s Reason by Graham Jones (University of Chicago Press, 2017). Respondents to the books were asked to reflect on how these works challenge and correct the discursive and philosophical modes of investigation into secularity’s histories and manners of operation.


Social inequality in/and

religious studies

Academics regularly encounter dilemmas associated with teaching and citing the work of someone who perpetuates/perpetuated racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ageism, or often some combination of these and other sources of bias and discrimination. The dilemmas with teaching and citing not only further constrain possibilities for moving disciplinary debates in new directions, but also possibilities for practicing a radical politics rooted in social justice.

This forum asks scholars to imagine new standards of excellence in religious studies pedagogy and research that take deep diversity and concern for justice seriously. In what ways do curricula and research in religious studies support systemic inequality in our communities? What are the possibilities for remedying injustice in today’s world through scholarship and teaching? How might connecting broad-based societal inequality and inequities within the discipline enable us to chart a new way forward?