CAS spotlights publications by Drs. Johnson and French

If you've recently walked past the display case that stands outside the office of the College of Arts and Science, in Upham Hall, you may have recognized photos of two familiar faces. The latest display of recent publications by CAS faculty includes articles by two assistant professors from the Department of Comparative Religion: Rory Johnson and Nathan French.

Dr. Johnson's article, "Sobriety and Ecstasy: Ritual Dimensions in Dorsey's Gospel Blues," appeared in the journal Critical Sociology. Looking at the work of seminal gospel musician Thomas A. Dorsey, Dr. Johnson argues that as African Americans migrated from the rural South into northern cities like Chicago and began attending black middle-class churches, "the traditions of ecstasy and congregational participation of the agrarian southern folk tradition and the ascetic reserve of urban industrial main-line churches shaped a hybrid grammar for expressing the sacred."

Dr. French's article, "An American Takfir? Violence and Law at War," appeared in the Journal of Religion and Violence. Comparing jihadist Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi's declaration of takfir (excommunication) against other Muslims to the Obama administration's legal arguments for using targeted drone strikes to kill U.S. citizens turned jihadists, Dr. French argues for a fundamental similarity: both al-Maqdisi and the U.S. government used claims of imminent threat to justify excluding certain people from legal protections against violence that would otherwise have applied.