Research

My current research projects investigate globalization and public formations. The first project, The Lion, the Lamb, and the Lotus: The Glocalization of the RLDS Church in Asia and North America, decenters the dominant American-based narrative of Mormonism by documenting and analyzing late-twentieth-century global exchanges among middle-class Americans in a small Midwestern Mormon denomination, subsistence-farming highland people (adivāsis or “indigenous peoples”) in Hindutva-dominated eastern India, and Filipino farmers in the rural barangays of Luzon.

Priest Junesh Raika serves communion to an RLDS congregation in Odisha, India, ca. 1968; image courtesy of Community of Christ Archives.

With these groups as case studies, I ask how small religious communities become “big” without growing very much. That is, I analyze how small religious groups enlarge their global imaginaries, form transnational social networks, and create new cosmopolitan aspirations, all the while remaining marginalized religious minorities in their local cultures. To date, this research has yielded two journal articles and two chapters in edited volumes (published, in press, or under review). You can read one of these articles and watch a public talk on some of my research.

My second book project, Priesthood, Publics, and Power: Mormon Women’s Ordination Movements and Ecumenical Engagement, is a co-authored monograph that investigates how advocacy around Mormon women’s ordination transforms advocates’ ability to claim power for themselves. In particular, co-author Nancy Ross (DSU) and I analyze how advocates for women’s ordination 1) constructed pro-ordination narratives, 2) formed social networks, 3) deployed persuasive affective performances, and 4) engaged in agential action to ultimately create “publics” and “counterpublics” that eventuated in new ecumenical relationships. This co-authored project is in its preliminary research stages. However, my co-author and I have already secured approval to write an article on our topic for Christian Century (the leading ecumenical Protestant magazine in the US).