Report on Faculty Fellowship Activity
Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice
I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to the Desmond Tut Center for naming me a Fellow. I am honored to be associated with the center, and with Tutu’s unsurpassed legacy. I was also grateful for the Center’s financial support for my research. I received several sources of funding for the research in question,1 and with the exception of the DTC’s Fellowship’s support for a research assistant (Beccah Rendall), nearly all of the funds went towards supporting a research trip to India that I conducted collaboratively with an Indian scholar, James Ponniah. Since all of the funds from all sources were exhausted in the end, I will describe the various uses to which the funds were collectively put.
Use of Funds
The vast majority of the funds went towards a month-long research trip in Sri Lanka in May 2015. In Sri Lanka, Professor Ponniah and I conducted interviews of around fifty Sri Lankans about the state of Buddhist-Christian (and occasionally Hindu-Christian) relations in the island nation. The research was incredibly productive, and particularly satisfying for me because it was the first time I had the opportunity to work on the issues that I care about outside of India. Gaining that comparative perspective has been particularly valuable not only in terms of demonstrating the many ways in which post-colonial religious¹ nationalisms in South Asia function in similar ways, but also in helping me see the more subtly unique aspects of the Indian and Sri Lankan situations. After covering all of our mutual travel costs for the Sri Lanka trip, there was about $260 left in the grant funds from the American Academy of Religion, which we used to subsidize the cost of Professor Ponniah’s and my recent travel to Rome for the Under Caesar’s Sword conference where we presented some of our findings (our travel costs were mostly, but not fully covered by the conference organizers). Finally, as mentioned above, $500 from the DTC Fellowship were used to support Butler student Beccah Rendall, who read and summarized around two dozen relevant books and articles for us.
The initial and primary outcome of the research supported by the DTC Fellowship has been a co-authored book chapter entitled “Christian Responses to Repression in India and Sri Lanka: Religious Nationalism, Legal Restriction, and Violence,” which I have appended below. Our chapter will join others to become a volume on Christian responses to repression around the world. The volume will likely be submitted to either Oxford or Cambridge University Press for review in spring 2016. A second outcome was the conference presentation we just gave in Rome at the Under Caesar’s Sword conference. Finally, Professor Ponniah and I have also discussed using our data to write an additional article focused solely on Buddhist-Christian relations in contemporary Sri Lanka. However, while this outcome is likely, it is not absolutely certain at this point. Let me close, then, where I began, with an expression of gratitude for the support of the DTC in this year of research, an expression that is echoed in the first footnote of the attached chapter draft, as you can see. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be associated with the Center.
1 In addition to the DTC funds, we had $4,000 in travel funds from the Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame, and $5,000 in travel funds from an American Academy of Religion International Collaboration Grant. The research was also conducted under the general auspices of a commission of $15,000 from the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, as part of the “Under Caesar’s Sword” Project.