Browsing by Author "Guangtian, Ha"
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- ItemPerformative Religion and Hard Labor: How Faith-Based Drug Rehabilitation Programs Operate Within the Ideological Framework of the Prison Industrial Complex(2021) Bass, Nathan; Guangtian, HaThis thesis takes theoretical framings of the relation between the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) and the Global South and extends them to reveal how non-carceral faith-based rehabilitation programs operate under the same ideological grounding of labor exploitation within the PIC. I do this through an analysis into Life Changers Outreach (LCO), a faith-based drug rehabilitation program. I will track themes of conflation between capitalism and Christianity and look to see how the dominant capitalist classes reorient institutions to distort morality in a way that falsely justifies this unpaid labor. Performative aspects of this brand of Christianity are a façade for free-market capitalist impulses that drive this exploitation of labor. Throughout this thesis, I will outline how different institutions within LCO perform religiosity in different ways, but all with the same underlying goals of maximizing extraction of profit. This performative nature does not change the affect for the audience of the performer, but it has exploitative implications.
- ItemThe Future Belongs to the Brave: Some Thoughts on the Fate of Decolonization in Religious Studies(2019) Alejandro, Joseph Mario Burkley; Guangtian, HaThis senior thesis project contributes to the ongoing conversation surrounding decolonization efforts in the field of religious studies. I argue that scholars, having already devoted much focus to understanding the colonial origins of the discipline, now must shift to concentrating on continued decolonization in practice. Linking decolonization explicitly to means of representation, this thesis in particular explores some of the ways that scholars have both theorized about and chosen in practice to represent both themselves and the interlocutors present in their projects. I first explore the recent debate between two scholars of religious studies, Robert Orsi and Stephen Prothero, about the place of the scholar in ethnographic research. Framing the representation of the scholar around their debate, I claim that Orsi’s call for the suspension of the self in ethnographic research lends itself to decolonizing efforts moreso than Prothero’s call for temporary bracketing. I then turn to two texts, Leela Prasad’s Poetics of Conduct and Karen McCarthy Brown’s Mama Lola, to explore the ways that two prominent scholars have made innovative choices in representing interlocutors. I see both of their approaches, although distinct from one another, as successful examples for scholars seeking to further the process of decolonization to follow. Finally, I explore the possibilities for decolonization through visual representation, using the recently published Lissa as an example of work that religious studies scholars could potentially produce in the future.
- ItemThe Plight of the Agunah in America: An Examination of the Institution of Orthodox Jewish Marriage and Its Repercussions(2022) Wolfer, Hannah; Guangtian, HaI came to this topic of the agunah ("chained woman") after grappling with my own connection to religion and whether there is only one path to experiencing the divine. I turned to Orthodox Judaism because of my own personal connection to the religion and my sense that the insularity suggested that there was a lack of understanding as I saw it. Orthodox Judaism straddles the line between embracing modernity and maintaining the integrity of religious traditions, which is where the problem of the agunah comes into focus. In exploring the insularity of Orthodox Judaism, it has been made clear why the agunah issue is not widely known. In this thesis, my aim is to shed light on this topic in order to initiate a conversation to a wider audience. My methods for exploring this topic were researching the foundation of Orthodox Judaism, which led me to a conversation with the rabbi of my synagogue, investigating the personal stories of agunah, as well as these women's activism in creating a platform and gaining support to free themselves from their dead marriages. What I found through my research and writing of this thesis was how the power of the rabbinical court strips women of their decision-making capacity especially when it comes to exiting marriage. I also discovered how activism around the agunah issue is on the rise, which led me to ascertain that this is a conversation that should be normalized outside the Jewish community. My hope is that with the opening up of the conversation, that the agunah issue will someday come to be resolved and women will be unshackled from these religious restraints.
- ItemThe Study of Lived Religion Through Different Interpretations: An Ethnography on Perceptions of Singaporean Malay-Muslims' Islamic Prayer Ritual Practice(2020) Gan, Julia; Guangtian, HaThere are differences between traditional Islamic textual interpretations and modern Singaporean state interpretations of the mandatory Islamic prayer ritual of wudu (ablution in preparation for prayer) and salat (the five daily prayers). Some Singaporean Malay-Muslims say that the proper prayer practice follows traditional Islamic textual interpretations of it. Yet, in certain contexts, they describe practicing the prayer ritual in a way that reflects the Singaporean state's adapted prayer guidelines. Hence, these individuals may seemingly exhibit a contradiction between what they describe as the proper prayer practice and how they actually practice the prayer. As a religious and racial minority in the majority Chinese and Christian dominant nation of Singapore, these Singaporean Malay-Muslims actually find creative and complex ways to negotiate this difference in the two Singaporean contexts of National Service and work at private companies. This includes perceiving prayer through belonging to a majority national group in the National Service context, while understanding Islamic prayer through the lens of belonging to a minority religious group in the private work context. In this negotiation, they contently move between these different groups and prioritize certain values in a way that shapes their identity. The Singaporean Malay-Muslims' differing interpretations of their prayer ritual practice in these contexts help to reconcile the ostensible contradiction between belief and practice. Furthermore, the existence of these two interpretations of simultaneously belonging to a minority religious and larger national group are consistent with Robert Orsi's perspective of lived religion as acknowledging the existence of varying interpretations of the same religious practice in daily life.
- ItemTracing and Chasing the Shadow: The Mysterious Eloquence of Rabi’a(2019) Jahanbin, Maryam Sophia; Guangtian, HaThe tradition of Sufi poetry has been analyzed extensively through the well known works of Rumi, Hafiz, Ibn ‘Arabi, Ibn Farid, Al- Ghazali, Farid al-Din ‘Attar, and Sa’adi—among many others. These well-known figures of Islamic mysticism are most often referred to by those seeking an understanding of the theory of language present in Sufi poetics; however, through the verse of Rabi’a al- Adawiyya (717-801CE), their predecessor and the first saint of Islam, the tradition of Sufi poetry has yet to be given the kind of scholarly attention and analysis it deserves. In this thesis, I will be outlining the theory of Sufi poetics, and applying this theory to analyze the mysterious words of Rabi’a—this analysis demonstrates the ways in which her ecstatic utterances served as a seed from which the language of Sufi poetics grew and flourished. I hope to locate Rabi’a’s ecstatic utterances within the larger tradition of Sufi thought and poetry, as a way to prove her lasting presence, as a hidden and subtle figure woven within and without this particular intellectual tradition.
- ItemYSA, WHY I STAY: AN EXPLORATION OF BELIEF, RITUAL, PRACTICE, and POLICY in the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS(2020) Walton, Paige; Moses, Joshua; Guangtian, Ha; McGuire, Anne MarieIn this thesis I provide historical contextualization of contemporary Church doctrine and official statements, as well as explore the transitional moments in the church's history as shown by General Conference talks and policy changes in the General Handbook. I do this with the particular status of an insider-outsider, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this identification is to explore the current state of the Church of Jesus Christ members' beliefs and practices in reference to key moments in its history. I take this project one step further by briefly examining the most recent decade-plus of controversy within the Church. This project is timely due to the long-standing prevalence of some, like controversy over social roles, and notable recurrence of other conversations, like the law of chastity. These issues of gender and sexuality are particularly poignant as a tool of engagement with the politicized Church of Jesus Christ. I argue that within the Church members thoughtfully engage with the Church's history, hold doubts and issues regarding certain Church policy, but choose to stay because of hope in the overall good of the Church institution, love of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and belief in the efficacy of Temple rites and rituals. While acknowledging the positionality and subjectivity of myself and my participants is very important for the particularity of this project, I want to push back against common forms of Church approved representation in order to create more genuine interactions within this community.