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Working in the Field

This is a space for faculty and graduate students in Stanford's Religious Studies Department to reflect on the ways in which their own work foregrounds issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity. We will feature a different graduate student and faculty member on a rotational basis. This month’s feature is:

Chanhee Her (Heo)

picture of Chanhee Her

As a recent first-generation Korean immigrant woman in the States, I have found myself both as an insider and an outsider within various layers of community and identity: citizen and non-citizen, Asian/Asian American and people of color, Korean churches and predominantly white churches, and states in the South and in the West. This constantly shifting status, as disorienting as it can be for me at times, also offers a lens through which I can be both participant and observer, a role with which I hope to pursue in my academic work.

My research interests include Asian immigrant experiences and religiosity in a transnational context. I’m particularly interested in how Protestant Christianity in early 20th century America shaped and engaged in Korean immigrants’ embodied experiences. How were Korean immigrants racialized by state power and white-centered society? How did gender play a role in the process of immigration? How can we understand the lives of Korean immigrants reflected in Korea’s relationship to the imperial powers of America and Japan? And finally, how might we find these various inputs intersecting under the umbrella of Protestant Christianity? These kinds of questions have also spurred me to co-organize a panel on Race and Gender in Contemporary Religious Studies at Stanford University and to serve as a committee member in Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Ministry in Disciples of Christ.

Anna Bigelow

picture of Anna Bigelow

I work at the intersection of Islamic Studies, Religious Studies, and critical theory, striving to understand how Muslims and non-Muslims labor to produce communities in which all members can live and thrive. Working with Muslims and in Muslim spaces has focused my attention on how racialized religious minorities make space for themselves, their aspirations, and their concerns within, and often in spite of, people and systems that seek to minimize, marginalize, and even eliminate them. I’ve been privileged to learn about human creativity, resilience, and integrity from living and working outside of the white, middle-class American context of my birth. These experiences and studies have helped me to question and unsettle many of the theories, methods, and materials we rely on in the academic study of religion, for example in regard to the extractive logics of much ethnography. And so I value discomfort and confusion as guides to my inquiries and search for a more collaborative and transformative mode of exploring our shared world.