The Religion Department is committed to anti-racism in our curriculum, our engagement with students, our scholarship, and our professional lives. Our continuing work on anti-racism stems from a commitment to a genuinely cosmopolitan education, as we develop our understanding of the globally interdependent and unequally structured world we live in. It also arises from a shared sense of moral outrage at the enduring effects of structural racism and other forms of oppression in America and the world today.

We understand “religion” to be a complex and heterogeneous set of phenomena that in their various permutations have sometimes historically challenged – but have also sometimes constructed and colluded with – systems of oppression. Many of our courses are cross-listed with Black Studies, Latinx and Latin American Studies, Asian Languages and Civilizations, American Studies, SWAGS, and History, where we, using a variety of disciplinary methods, critically examine how human lives are shaped by broad structural and ideological forces of inequality and oppression. Our disciplines offer critical perspectives on anti-racist theory and practice, religious
movements for liberation, and social and economic justice.

Many Religion courses decenter modern Western ways of knowing and the social, economic, political, and religious institutions they have constructed. Specifically, we critically engage the notion of “race” as a modern Western construct, and we note how the premodern and nonwestern worlds that many of us study do not divide human beings according to it. Even those courses focused on premodern contexts, however, explore other structural systems of oppression based on tribalism, classism, gender inequity, and religious triumphalism, and these can be compared and contrasted with racist ideologies, practices, and institutions. At the same time, religious traditions have often advanced ideals, values, and institutions championing human equality, dignity, and justice. In all of our courses we invite students to consider the content of the course in relation to their own lived experience and that of others.

The Religion Department practices a critical and highly-reflexive approach to our field as we work with students to identify and interrogate the impact of colonialism, Orientalism, white supremacy, and Western hegemony on how the various academic disciplines in which we work have constructed, described, and theorized various “Others” in our field’s history. We also seek to hear and learn from voices that have been historically marginalized.

We continue to embrace pedagogical development in the ongoing work required to foster truly
inclusive classrooms where diverse views and experiences are recognized.