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NEH Fellowships

Biography:Maria-Alina Asavei, 2018-19 OCSC NEH Faculty Fellow

Maria-Alina Asavei is Lecturer at the Institute of International Studies, Charles University in Prague and Senior Researcher within Primus research project titled “Beyond Hegemonic Narratives and Myths.” She is also independent curator of contemporary art. Some of her most recent publications include: "Art and Religious Revitalization Movements in Post-Communist Romania: the Zidarus’ Case," Politics, Religion & Ideology (2017); "Call the Witness: Romani Holocaust Related Art in Austria and Marika Schmiedt’s Will to Memory", Memory Studies (2017), and “Nicolae Ceausescu: between Vernacular Memory and Nostalgia,” Twentieth Century Communism (2017). 

Project:

As part of her NEH research fellowship she will focus on Political Resistance through Religious Neo-Orthodox Art in (Post) Communist Romania. The aim is to demonstrate that in the Romanian (post)-communist social and political context, some religious/spiritual art productions reassessed and revisited traditional Orthodox religious discourses and narratives with the aim of mutually developing new identities from the bottom up. At the same time, these artistic productions re-enacted older religious narratives (both Christian-Orthodox allegories and elements from other world religions) as a tactic to circumvent the official understanding of the “religious” through artistic activism and grassroots mobilization. 

Biography:John Zaleski 2018-19 OCSC NEH Dissertation Fellow

John Zaleski is a Ph.D. candidate in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. After completing his A.B. in Religion and Classics at Dartmouth College, John came to Harvard to study medieval Christian and Islamic history. His research has concentrated on the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East during the seventh through ninth centuries, a period of extensive exchange both among eastern Christian communities and between Christians and Muslims.

Project:

In his dissertation, John examines the exchange and the transformation of Late Antique ascetic traditions, through the lens of East Syrian Christian and early Muslim writing on the central ascetic disciplines of fasting and celibacy. Although East Syrian monks were politically and confessionally separated from the Orthodox churches of Byzantium, they nevertheless created a vigorous commentary tradition in which they studied and debated about Greek monastic texts, and in so doing, significantly developed early Orthodox traditions of ascetic practice. At the same time, Muslim authors in the eighth and ninth centuries adapted, rejected, or transformed these broader Orthodox ascetic ideals, in order to create self-consciously Islamic traditions of ascetic practice. The dissertation thus expands our understanding of the development of a diverse and cross-confessional Orthodox Christian ascetic tradition and reveals the multifaceted engagement of Muslim authors with this tradition. 
 
John has undertaken research for his dissertation at Harvard University and, from September 2016 to May 2018, as a William R. Tyler fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. In addition, his research has taken him to examine Syriac and Arabic manuscripts in Birmingham, Fes, Istanbul, London, and Paris. He looks forward with great pleasure to joining the rich intellectual community of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center as he completes his dissertation.

Aram G. Sarkisian (2017-18 Dissertation Fellow)

Biography:2017-2018 NEH Dissertation Fellow Aram Sarkisian


Aram G. Sarkisian is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Northwestern University studying the late nineteenth and early twentieth century United States, with a particular focus on American religious history. A native of the Detroit area, Aram holds a BA in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Michigan and an AM in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.

Aram is currently a T.H. Breen Fellow at the the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, Northwestern University, where he is organizing the conference: "Walls and Bridges: Migration and its Histories."

 

Project:

Aram's dissertation, titled "The Cross Between Hammer and Sickle: Russian Orthodox Christians in Red Scare America, 1908-1924," is a study of the Russian Orthodox Church's North American Archdiocese in the crucible of immigration, war, American nativism, and transnational crises wrought by the rise of Bolshevism. His project draws on a wide variety of English- and Russian-language sources, from church newspapers and administrative documents to reports and records produced by various United States government agencies, to tell a unique story about the interplay between members of a beleaguered immigrant church and an emboldened and wide-reaching federal state. Aram's dissertation argues that the mechanisms used by the federal government to out "radicals" thought to be fomenting a Bolshevik revolution on American soil, as well as national rhetoric encouraging the coercive "Americanization" of immigrants, were primary tools clergy and laity alike utilized to reinvent what it meant to be a Russian Orthodox Christian in a post-revolutionary world.