June 23, 2024

The American Council of Learned Societies Announces the 2021 Fellows of the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs


The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the 2021 Fellows of the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs. The fellowships support exceptional scholars in the humanities and social sciences who are pursuing research on the roles religion plays in public life around the world and who are poised to enrich public understanding of religion through media engagement. The program is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

“The humanities and social sciences give voice to key perspectives on religion, which exerts deep influence on what people all over the world believe about family and state structure, gender roles, the nature of divinity, and the characteristics of the best life,” said ACLS President Joy Connolly. “As our society continues to reckon with the urgent need for social justice and greater respect for difference amidst deep polarization, the timely research led by these scholars helps create paths to richer understanding of one another.”

Awardees receive stipends of $63,000 to implement their projects. In addition to providing fellows with a year’s leave to pursue their research and outreach efforts, the program also offers media training activities, and hosts a spring symposium that brings journalists into dialogue with scholars to discuss key issues in religion and international affairs.

This year’s diverse cohort of fellows explore connections between religion and public health, environmental change, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, foreign aid, evangelical Christian ministries, broadcast media, and more. The fellows and their projects are:

  • Sean Griffin, Lecturer, Russian and Religion, Dartmouth College

The Second Baptism of Rus: Cultural Memory after Communism
This study investigates the memory politics of the contemporary Russian Orthodox Church. It explores the complex relations between the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate and uncovers their collaborative efforts to transform cultural memory in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, in the three decades since the collapse of the USSR.

  • Mbaye Lo, Associate Professor, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University

“I Cannot Write My Life”: New Perspectives on the Life and Writings of Omar ibn Said
An examination of African Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Said (1770-1863), who wrote an autobiography in Arabic in 1831 while a slave in Bladen County, North Carolina. The project addresses the local and global implications of Said’s life and writings and traces their complex connections to West African and Islamic cultures.

  • Adeline Masquelier, Professor, Anthropology, Tulane University

Haunted: Possession, Time, and the Agency of the No Longer
This project explores claims of spirit possession of schoolgirls in Niger. These incidents have reignited debates about the place of women in Islam, and the project pursues questions at the intersection religion, gender rights, and development that are the focus of much international attention.

  • Michael McNally, Professor, Religion, Carleton College

Religion as Peoplehood: Native Americans, the Environment, and the Sacred
This project explores Native American religions through the lens of their engagement with contested sacred lands. The project is part of a public scholarship partnership with the Native American Rights Fund/Colorado Law joint effort on implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States.

  • Yasmin Moll, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The Revolution Within: Islamic Media and the Struggle for the New Egypt
This project aims to enrich ongoing conversations about the 2011 cultural revolution in Egypt and the complex intersections of religion, media, and politics in a moment of resurgent authoritarianism and resistance alike.


  • Hannah Waits, Postdoctoral Fellow, History, Harvard University

The Missionow.aspx?cid=4Dary Majority: American Evangelicals and Power in a Postcolonial World
This project analyzes the growth and influence of American evangelicals’ missionary work across the Global South, from 1945 to the present. It shows how their efforts to spread their gospel throughout a decolonizing and postcolonial world most changed their ideas and practices related to race and sexuality.

Learn more about the fellows’ projects and media engagement activities here.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.

Formed in 1919, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is a nonprofit federation of 75 scholarly organizations. As the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences, ACLS holds a core belief that knowledge is a public good. As such, ACLS strives to promote the circulation of humanistic knowledge throughout society. In addition to stewarding and representing its member organizations, ACLS employs its $140 million endowment and $35 million annual operating budget to support scholarship in the humanities and social sciences and to advocate for the centrality of the humanities in the modern world.

American Council of Learned Societies

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