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Religious Studies Majors Present at AAR Meeting


Hamilton’s Religious Studies Department was well represented at the recent annual meeting of the Eastern International Region of the American Academy of Religion, hosted by Syracuse University. Two current religious studies majors and one religious studies alumna presented papers as members of a panel on “Muslim Immigration and Religious Life.”

Grant Kiefaber ’19 presented a paper titled “Muslim Refugees in Utica: Perception and Reality,” which grew out of his Emerson research project supervised by Associate Professor of Religious Studies Abhishek Amar last summer.

Jade Alvillar ’18 discussed “Islamophobia in France: The Contradiction in the Implementation of laïcité in the 21st Century.” Her paper was an abbreviated version of her senior thesis, completed last fall under Amar’s supervision.

The paper was selected for the conference’s prestigious Undergraduate Student Paper Award, made possible through a grant from Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religious studies and theology. Alvillar was previously awarded an Undergraduate Achievement Award for the same paper through Hamilton’s chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa.

Shannon Boley ’17 presented her Emerson Grant research on “Muslim Refugees and Christian Charities: A Case Study of Refugee Resettlement in Rome, Italy.” Her paper was also an abbreviated version of her senior thesis, also completed under the supervision of Professor Amar, and received a Student Paper Award at last year’s regional meeting.

After a competitive peer review process, the paper was recently accepted for publication by the Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa. Boley is currently a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School.

The panel, conceived by Amar, was organized by Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies Brent Plate and chaired by Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Seth Schermerhorn.

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