Fellows 2016 - 2017

ISM Fellows and Postdoctoral Associates


Maya J. Berry received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2016. At Yale she will continue the work of her dissertation, Afro-Cuban Movement(s): Performing Autonomy in “Updating” Havana, which investigates the performative effects of black artists working professionally in both sacred and secular settings as Cuba “updates” its political economy. She has been appointed assistant professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, beginning in the 2017 – 2018 academic year.

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Anderson H. Blanton comes to the ISM from the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen, Germany), where he has been a research scholar since 2014. He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Columbia University. His book project, Toying with the Sacred: Materiality, Prayer and Play, explores the history of pedagogical techniques and technologies in the American Sunday school.

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Juliette Jacqueline Day is currently on the theology faculty at the University of Helsinki (Finland), where she is University Lecturer and docent in church history. She is also a senior research fellow in Christian liturgy at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford. At Yale she will be working on a monograph, Saying Your Prayers, a companion to her Reading the Liturgy (2014). Her work, which is subtitled “Orality and Christian Worship,” will explore research into the distinctive ways in which meaning is structured in oral contexts, and how that might be applicable to Christian worship.

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Peter Jeffery has been on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame since 2009, where he is Michael P. Grace II Chair of Medieval Studies, with concurrent appointments in the departments of theology and anthropology. He is also affiliated faculty at the Medieval Institute and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, as well as associate director for academics at the interdisciplinary research and teaching program Sacred Music at Notre Dame. His book project for his fellowship year at Yale is Civil and Religious Ceremonial in 8th Century Rome, a translation of Ordo Romanus Primus and related texts, which goes beyond the usual liturgiological approach to open up new historical approaches, in part by clarifying relationships to contemporary Latin and Greek legal, historical, and ceremonial texts.

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Rehanna Kheshgi received her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago in 2016 and is currently working on a manuscript entitled Crowning the Bihu Queen: Assamese Folk Performance from Ritual to Reality Television. Her postdoctoral research brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of sacred performance in the borderlands of South Asia, examining how indigenous music and dance practices of the Bodo community are being mobilized in support of tribal sovereignty in Assam, India. Kheshgi received dissertation writing support from an American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship, and her fieldwork in Assam was funded by a Dissertation Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies. Kheshgi is a graduate of Goshen College (Bachelor of Music) and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (Master of Music).

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Josef Sorett is associate professor of religion and African-American studies at Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. in 2008 from Harvard University. At Yale, he will pursue two projects: The Holy, Holy Black engages African American literary and religious life across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, while This is the Air I Breathe will analyze the making of Christian music to chart the overlapping growth of evangelical and black culture industries since the 1960s. It will investigate the economic and technological developments that, along with emerging social networks, resulted in a global market and stage for black culture workers.

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Jim Sykes is assistant professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago in 2011. His book project is entitled Music, Religion, and Decolonization: Sonic Geographies of the Eastern Indian Ocean, a comparative study of postcolonial constructions of music history in South and Southeast Asia, focusing particularly on Tamil Hindu and Sinhala Buddhist circulations and approaches to sound in Sri Lanka and Singapore.