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CCS is delighted to welcome 5 new faculty members! Starting in Fall 2022, we are joined by: Dr. Sravana Borkataky-Varma (Instructional Assistant Professor, Religious Studies), Dr. Dinah Hannaford (Associate Professor, Anthropology), Dr. Marwa Ghazali (Assistant Professor, Anthropology), and Dr. Ivan Small (Associate Professor, Anthropology).

In addition, CCS also welcomes Dr. Na-Rae Kim as an Affiliated Researcher specializing in Asian American and Korean cultural studies.

CCS welcomes anthropologist and geographer Fiorenza Picozza, who joins us as a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology for the 2022-2023 academic year. Dr. Picozza's book, The Coloniality of Asylum, Mobility, Autonomy and Solidarity in the Wake of Europe’s “Refugee Crisis” (2021) offers a critique of asylum in Europe from the standpoint of refugees’ autonomous movements and spaces of solidarity. Her research sheds light on the mutual production of asylum and Europe and looks at the processes of racialization that shape “Europeanness” as a humanitarian, postmodern and postnational identity incompatible with “refugeeness” and rooted in postcolonial whiteness.

Dr. Nicholas De Genova was recognized on Stanford University's prestigious list of the Top 2% of the worlds most influential academic researchers in all fields of study. CCS is proud to congratulate him for this extraordinary achievement.

Congratulations! Dr. Rachel Afi Quinn has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) faculty fellowship for 2023-2024, to dedicate her time to writing her second book, Good Women Die: Re-Envisioning the Life of Philippa Duke Schuyler (1931-1967). As a transnational cultural studies project, this black feminist biography examines the life of mixed-race Black American Philippa Schuyler, a child-prodigy turned Goodwill Ambassador and journalist. Schuyler traveled the world as a pianist, writer, and humanitarian. This biography explores the visual archive surrounding Schuyler’s life and travels and her unique experiences of race and gender, as well as Schuyler’s politically conservative ideas of race across her published and unpublished writings.

Dr. Dinah Hannaford has published a new co-edited book, Opting Out: Women Messing with Marriage around the World (Rutgers University Press, 2022). Through nuanced ethnographic accounts, Opting Out reveals the conditions underlying the widespread phenomenon of women choosing to reject marriage in places where it has long been obligatory. Taken together, the essays in this volume prompt the following questions: Why is marriage so consistently disappointing for women? When the rewards of economic stability and the social status that marriage confers are troubled, does marriage offer women anything compelling at all? Across diverse geographic contexts in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, this book offers sensitive and powerful portrayals of women as they escape or reshape marriage into a more rewarding arrangement.

CCS is proud to congratulate Dr. Rachel Afi Quinn, who has been awarded the 2022 Isis Duarte Book Prize of the Haiti-Dominican Republic Section of the Latin American Studies Association, for Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo.  The Isis Duarte Prize Committee has recognized Dr. Quinn’s book to be an outstanding example of the best scholarship in the field.

Congratulations! Dr. Rachel Afi Quinn was selected as a recipient of an Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center Faculty Research Award for 2023-24, to support the translation into Spanish of her book, Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo.

Dr. Sravana Borkataky-Varma was a featured guest on Houston Public Media's "Town Square" to discuss the Hindu festival of Holi.

Dr. Keith McNeal, currently on leave as a visiting Senior Lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Trinidad and Tobago, was featured in a discussion of climate change in the Caribbean on Trinidad and Tobago Television's "Now" Morning Show,  in connection with his role in the UWI-St. Augustine public event series, UWI on the Ground. Dr. McNeal's Comment: "Climate Change Is a Magical Mirror" was featured in Trinidad & Tobago Newsday.

CCS is proud to congratulate Dr. Nicholas De Genova, who has been recognized with a 2022 Distinguished Faculty Award by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.  This award honors senior faculty who have “achieved preeminence in their field for a nationally and internationally renowned, innovative, and transformative body of scholarship, coupled with the strong promise of continuing excellence.”

CCS celebrates Dr. Andrew GordonDr. Rebecca Storey, and Dr. Randolph Widmer for their many years of devoted service to the Department and the Anthropology programs, and wishes each of them a rewarding retirement. Dr. Gordon will remain actively engaged in his research full-time as a Research Associate Professor.

CCS hosted Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Ph.D. (Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University) as a Scholar-in-Residence, April 25-29, 2022. In recognition of CCS’s commitment to racial justice, the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership in the Hobby School of Public Affairs partnered with CCS to fund this unique Scholar-in-Residence opportunity for a week-long engagement.

Congratulations! Dr. Rachel Quinn has been awarded a fellowship at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City for research on her new book project during her Faculty Development Leave (2022-23).

Dr. Debarati Sen is assuming expanded leadership responsibilities for the Anthropology programs. Beginning Aug. 1, 2022, Dr. Sen will serve as both the Anthropology Undergraduate Program Director and the Graduate Program Director and Advisor.

Congratulations! Religious Studies lecturers Laura Marshall Clark (Muscogee Creek) and Claire Mummert have been awarded a grant by the Open Educational Resources (OER) Creation Program.  This program seeks to make higher education accessible and affordable for UH students by empowering faculty to develop digital course materials that are free and that close gaps in existing content.  They will be collaborating with Indigenous voices to create a textbook surrounding Indigenous humanities and spirituality.  It will explore a variety of Indigenous knowledges and practices from the direct perspective of tribal peoples who employ them.

Dr. Luca Oliva was invited to teach in May 2022 as a visiting professor at the University of Bergamo, in Italy.  There, he offered two graduate seminars and undergraduate lectures on issues of normativity and theories of knowledge.

Dr. Nicholas De Genova co-organized an international meeting on the topic of border and immigration law abolitionism with Daniel Morales (George A. Butler Research Professor of Law/ Associate Professor, UH Law Center), as the second meeting of the Immigration Theory Workshop at UH, May 13-14, 2022.

Religious Studies major Audrey Gale Hall presented research from her Senior Honors Thesis at the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies in March 2022. Audrey’s talk, “Diagnosing Deviance: Lepers and Transsexuals in Leviticus and the DSM,” was part of a panel called “Bodies, Spirits, and Wisdom,” in the conference’s Second Temple and Late Antique Judaism section. Audrey is a faith-rooted political organizer in her final semester of undergrad, and aspires to attend seminary for training as a movement chaplain.

CCS is proud to congratulate Rachel Afi Quinn, Ph.D., who has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure (effective Sept. 1, 2021).

CCS is proud to congratulate Luca Oliva, Ph.D., who has accepted an offer as tenure-track Assistant Professor, effective Fall 2021.

CCS is delighted to welcome Debarati Sen, Ph.D. as a new Associate Professor in our Anthropology programs, starting in January 2021. Professor Sen joins CCS from the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Kennesaw State University, near Atlanta. She is an ethnographer who works on agriculture, labor, gender, the anthropology of food, sustainability, fair trade, and micro-credit among women involved in tea production in Darjeeling, India. Her book Everyday Sustainability: Gender Justice and Fair Trade Tea in Darjeeling (2017) has won and been nominated for several impressive prizes in the discipline. In Spring 2021, Dr. Sen will offer a new course on “Global Ethnographies of Labor.”

Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo Rachel Afi Quinn, Ph.D. has published a book, "Being La Dominicana: Race and Identity in the Visual Culture of Santo Domingo" (University of Illinois Press, 2021). This study investigates the ways Dominican visual culture portrays Dominican women and how women represent themselves in their own creative endeavors in response to existing stereotypes. Delving into the dynamic realities and uniquely racialized gendered experiences of women in Santo Domingo, Professor Quinn reveals how racial ambiguity and color hierarchy work to shape experiences of identity and subjectivity in the Dominican Republic.

The Religious Studies program welcomes Karen Langton, Ph.D., who joins CCS as a Visiting Scholar during the 2021-22 academic year. Langton’s scholarship focuses on the female body in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern literature, with a specific interest in the pregnant female body in the books of Job, Psalms and Isaiah. Her current research explores female language for God across the spectrum of feminist scholarship.

CCS welcomes medical anthropologist and American Studies scholar Anneleise Azúa, who will join us as a new Postdoctoral Researcher in November 2021. Her study, "Taking Medicine: Environment, Identity, and the Materiality of Borderlands Curanderismo," examines how structural and environmental changes have influenced racial identities, nationalism and the sociocultural landscape of traditional healing in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands of the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas and in Mexico City.

Rachel Quinn, Ph.D. and Debarati Sen, Ph.D. are assuming new leadership responsibilities for the Anthropology programs. Sen will serve as the Anthropology Undergraduate Program Director, and Quinn will serve as the Graduate Program Director and Advisor.

CCS extends a warm note of gratitude and appreciation to Rebecca Storey, Ph.D. who has served the anthropology programs with remarkable devotion for many years!

Liberal Studies major Kennedy Foxwell was selected to present an academic paper to the Annual Student Research Conference: Back to the Sources, organized by the department of history, humanities and languages of the University of Houston-Downtown. Foxwell’s conference presentation will be based on a paper she submitted for her Liberal Studies course, “Knowledge and Methods.” Foxwell is a liberal studies major with concentrations in psychology, Phronêsis (politics and ethics) and public relations. She is currently a sophomore in the Honors College, and she has a special interest in epistemology. She will graduate in May 2024 and aspires to attend the University of Houston Law School.

Nicholas De Genova, Ph.D.  was appointed in June 2020 to chair a Special Committee on Race and Social Justice in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, which has planned special programming and other initiatives in the College for the 2020-2021 academic year.

CCS was the principal sponsor at the University of Houston of two important and timely art installations: “Hostile Terrain 94: A Global Exhibition about America’s Humanitarian Crisis at the Southern Border,” addressing the deaths of migrants and refugees crossing the US-Mexico border, which was co-presented by Public Art of the University of Houston System, and a virtual tour of “ Detention Nation,” addressing the conditions of migrants and refugees held in detention in the United States, which was created by the Houston-based arts collective Sin Huellas and includes Professor Delilah Montoya  of the UH School of Art. The installations were exhibited in The Blaffer Art Museum, April 17 – May 15, 2021.

These installations were co-sponsored by: 

  • The Center for Mexican American Studies
  • The Center for Public History
  • The Creative Writing program
  • The Department of Economics
  • The Department of English
  • The Department of Hispanic Studies

Support from University of Houston student organizations and other Houston-area institutions was provided by:

  • Asociación Mexicana para el Servicio Integral de la Familia Houston
  • Association of Latinx/Hispanic Advocates & Allies
  • Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority
  • Council for Cultural Activities
  • Hallyu Club
  • Holocaust Museum Houston- Engines of Change
  • One Zeta Graduate Chapter, Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority
  • University of Houston Circle K. International
  • American Gateways

Europa / Crisis: Nuevas palabras claves en la "crisis" en y de "Europa Nicholas De Genova, Ph.D. has published a book in (Spanish translation), entitled "Europa / Crisis: Nuevas palabras claves en la 'crisis' en y de 'Europa'" (co-edited with Martina Tazzioli; Los Libros de la Catarata [Madrid, Spain], 2021). First published online in 2016, in English, as “Europe / Crisis: New Keywords of ‘the Crisis’ in and of ‘Europe’,” this project involved a collective writing project including 15 co-authors from 10 countries, confronting the so-called “migrant” or “refugee crisis” in Europe that became prominent in the public discourse in 2015.

The anthropology programs welcome Professor Sarasij Majumder as a new Affiliated Faculty member. Majumder is the inaugural holder of the Sita and Bhaskara Rao Mutyala Endowed Professorship of India Studies and the director of the India Studies program. He is a cultural anthropologist with research interests in critical political economy, development, rural change, migration and urbanization in South and Southeast Asia.

CCS is proud to congratulate Christian Eberhart, Ph.D. and Caryn Tamber-Rosenau, Ph.D., who were both honored by the President Khator and Provost Short as “50-in-5” Scholars for having achieved national or international recognition in their scholarly pursuits during the 2018-2019 academic year.

CCS has been actively bringing scholarly research to bear on the wider public’s understanding and analysis of the protests for racial justice following the police murder of George Floyd. 

CCS has been actively bringing scholarly research to bear on the wider public’s understanding and analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keith McNeal has assumed responsibility as the faculty advisor for the Sunrise Movement UH, a student organization that is part of an international youth-led movement concerned with climate change.

Congratulations! Luca Oliva, Ph.D.  has been awarded the 2020 Ross M. Lence Award for Teaching Excellence . "I am proud to celebrate the achievements of my colleague,” said Professor Nicholas De Genova, Chair of the Department. “It is particularly gratifying that our small department includes four recipients of this award over just the last three years – a true testament to the teaching excellence and dynamism in Comparative Cultural Studies."

CCS is proud to congratulate Luca Oliva, Ph.D., who was promoted to Instructional Associate Professor, effective Fall 2020.

CCS awarded $45,000 in scholarships during 2019-20, and $19,500 in 2020-21.
During the 2019-20 academic year, CCS awarded $31,500 to 9 students in Mladenka-Fowler scholarships, and awarded $13,500 to 8 students in Religious Studies scholarships .

Book Cover

Christian Eberhart has published a new book (co-edited with Martin Karrer, Siegfried Kreuzer and Martin Meiser), entitled Tempel, Lehrhaus, Synagoge: Orte jüdischen Gottesdienstes, Lernens und Lebens: Festschrift für Wolfgang Kraus (Ferdinand Schöningh/ Brill, 2020). This volume reflects on the genesis of the synagogue, spaces of scholarship. and the Jewish assembly in the diaspora from Babylonia to Alexandria to Rome. The book’s contributors examine the legacies that emerged from Jewish teachings and texts during the rise of Christianity.

Caryn-Tamber-Rosenau has been awarded the 2019 Ross M. Lence Award for Teaching Excellence.

The undergraduate Anthropology program at the University of Houston ranked #15 nationally on the 2020 Best Colleges list, based on the median early-career salary data of over 5 million graduates from the U.S. Department of Education's resource, College Scorecard. The rankings also include the median total debt from College Scorecard, which represents the debt accumulated by student borrowers of federal loans who completed a degree in the indicated field of study. Congratulations to our excellent faculty, students, and CCS staff!

CCS has been awarded a grant of $20,000 through the Provost’s Multicultural Student Success Initiative to support the department’s seminar series on “The Politics of Difference

Keith McNeal, Ph.D., has been awarded a Cougar Initiative to Engage (CITE) grant of $8,650 to support the Friends of Haiti Learning Abroad trip to Trinidad & Tobago during the summer of 2020.

Rachel Quinn has been awarded a CLASS Research Progress Grant to continue archival research for her new book project Good Women Die: The Mixed Race Transnationalism of Philippa Duke Schuyler (1931-1967).

Keith McNeal has been awarded a Provost’s “50-in-5” Award to support the completion of a new book project on queer sexualities in Trinidad and Tobago.

Luca Oliva has been appointed as the new Program Coordinator of the Liberal Studies program, starting June 1, 2019, and will also serve as the principal lecturer for the program’s required courses.

The anthropology programs welcome Professor Marie Theresa Hernandez as a new Affiliated Faculty member. Hernandez is a historical anthropologist in the World Cultures and Literatures program in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. Her relevant courses in historical anthropology and visual ethnography will be cross-listed in Anthropology.

The anthropology programs welcome Professor Elizabeth Rodwell as a new Affiliated Faculty member.  Rodwell is an anthropologist of digital media in the Department of Information and Logistics Technology. Her relevant courses in applied ethnography will be cross-listed in Anthropology.

Keith McNeal was interviewed on television in Trinidad and Tobago about his research into the history of Hindu mortuary practices there. McNeal was a guest on Visham Bhimull’s “Bhoolal Parampara” talk show on the Indian Entertainment Television (IeTV) network.

The Religious Studies Program is proud to announce the creation of two new scholarship opportunities for our students. The John D. and Allie Lea Orton Scholarship in Religious Studies offers financial assistance ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, based on financial need. The Lanier Scholarship for Excellence in Biblical Studies offers $1,000 to $3,000, based on merit, and is available to students who demonstrate excellence in the specific area of biblical studies.

The Religious Studies Program is proud to announce the receipt of two generous recent gifts. First, the John and Allie Lea Orton Foundation has made a significant donation, combined with a pledge for a total of three years. Second, the Lanier Foundation has made a substantial gift that is intended to provide support for Biblical Studies. The Religious Studies Program is very grateful to the Trustees of the John and Allie Lea Orton Foundation and to Mark and Becky Lanier for their generous support. These donations will benefit students through scholarships. They will also help to develop the overall profile of Religious Studies at the University of Houston and support research through the establishment of a 'Consortium for Excellence in Biblical Studies.'

Beginning in Spring 2020, Keith McNeal  will assume responsibility as the faculty advisor and coordinator of an annual student field trip to Haiti (to be held in May), formerly supervised by Professor Carl Lindahl (English), which will be coordinated through Dr. McNeal’s Spring semester course on “Caribbean Societies and Cultures.”

Dr. Lynn Mitchell

With profound sadness, CCS announces the passing of Dr. Lynn E. Mitchell Jr. (August 15, 1940–July 20, 2019), the visionary founder of the Religious Studies Program , which he served as dedicated academic director for 29 years (1985–2014).  We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Mitchell’s family.

Lynn Mitchell held a doctorate in Religious Studies from Rice University (1979).  His selected publications include:  Walking in the Light: How Christians Face Ethical Issues and The Two Books of God: Science and the Bible.

The Anthropology programs welcome two new Affiliated Faculty – Professors Chatwara (“Oui”) Duran and Lauren Zentz — who are both ethnographers specializing in linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics, and have developed the program in Applied Linguistics in the Department of English. Their relevant courses will be cross-listed in Anthropology.

Roma Migrants 

Nicholas De Genova  has published a new book (co-edited with Can Yildiz), entitled Roma Migrants in the European Union: Un/Free Mobility (Routledge, 2019).  This book situates the mobility of the Roma people (more commonly known by the often derogatory term “Gypsies”) as a critical vantage point for migration studies in Europe, focusing on questions about “Europe,” "European-ness," and European Union citizenship through the critical lens of Roma racialization, marginalization, securitization, and criminalization, and the dynamics of Roma mobility within and across the space of the European Union.


Susan Rasmussen ’s new book Persons of Courage and Renown (Lexington Books/ Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) explores issues of culture, memory, creativity, and power by analyzing beloved, but also vulnerable, actors, acting, and play performances in Tamajaq-speaking, predominantly Muslim, traditionally stratified, and semi-nomadic Tuareg communities in northern Mali. The town and region of Kidal are the primary sites of the ethnographic field research. This book traces how Tuareg actors powerfully negotiate cultural memory and encounters in communities caught historically and currently between political violence and peacekeeping efforts in northern Mali. There, urban, state, and non-governmental bureaucracies seek to re-shape Tuareg verbal art performances to comply with official agendas aimed at transforming local culture. This book shows how acting and plays are crucial in continuing, but also debating and re-defining the meanings of older verbal art performances of Tuareg tales, songs, and epics, as well as wider cultural knowledge and social practice. Their arts offer important possibilities for peacemaking in a turbulent and unpredictable world.


Christian Eberhart has published a new book (co-edited with Thomas Hieke), entitled Writing a Commentary on Leviticus: Hermeneutics – Methodology – Themes (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019; Göttingen, Germany). In this volume, several experts in the field of Hebrew Bible scholarship, currently writing a larger commentary on the book of Leviticus, discuss hermeneutical and methodological considerations, and explore particular themes and issues in the third book of the Torah, especially: sacrifices and rituals (“the cult”); the notion of unintentional and deliberate sins and purity/impurity (“the bad”), and how to eliminate them; and the relationship to the sphere of God (“the holy”). This collection demonstrates how commenting on any biblical book depends on the perspective a scholar takes, and how different commentaries on the same biblical text come to diverse conclusions because of a diversity of methodological and hermeneutical approaches, bearing witness to the complexity, intricacy, and richness of the biblical text.

Caryn Tamber-Rosenau  and Keith McNeal were both awarded 2019 Faculty Summer Fellowships from the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program to support their research.


Caryn Tamber-Rosenau ’s new book, Women in Drag: Gender and Performance in the Hebrew Bible and Early Jewish Literature, has been published by Gorgias Press. From Jael’s tent peg to Judith’s sword, biblical interpreters have long recognized the power of the "lethal women" stories of the Hebrew Bible and related literature. The tales of Jael and Judith, female characters who assassinate enemy commanders, have fascinated artists, writers, and scholars for centuries, no doubt partly because of the gender of the characters doing the killing. Tamber-Rosenau presents the first systematic study, both text-centered and deeply engaged with a variety of queer-theoretical frameworks, of the motif of the woman-turned-warrior in ancient Jewish literature. Through analysis from queer-theoretical perspectives and comparison with Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman literature, Women in Drag shines new light on three strong female characters from the Hebrew Bible and the early days of Jewish literature.

Keith McNeal was awarded a UH Global Faculty Development Fund grant for summer research and travel related to his project on “Sexuality, Gender, and the Anthropocene in Trinidad & Tobago”

Photo credit: Michael Brims.

Rachel Quinn was selected as the 2019 Winner of the Travel Grant of the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Program for a return trip to the Dominican Republic where she will host a screening of her award-winning documentary film “Cimarron Spirit” (2015) and to conduct new research on Dominican cultural production and the art schools in Santo Domingo.


Luca Oliva ’s new book, L'ontologia della materia: Giordano Bruno tra Otto e Novecento (2018), was published by Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura (Italy).

This book presents the "first philosopher of science," as Giordano Bruno has been depicted, and focuses on the reception of his natural philosophy in the modern and contemporary periods. Before anyone else, Bruno re-examined the principles of Aristotle's physics and metaphysics in relation to Copernicus and the emergence of the scientific revolution. His ideas have been the subject of several studies, including those of Galilei, Jacobi, Shelling, Hegel, Riehl, Schlick, Koyré, Cassirer, Fink, Yates, Kuhn, Eco, Sini, Giorello, and Gatti. This book examines each one of these studies and thus aims to show the immense relevance of Bruno in the history and philosophy of science.

Ken Brown was featured as an expert guest on a segment of the Houston Public Media program “Houston Matters,” concerning the ongoing dispute over the bodily remains of persons believed to have been African American prison inmates forced to work on chain gangs in the sugar cane fields while they were incarcerated in the Sugar Land area.

The Department of Comparative Cultural Studies welcomed  Nicholas De Genova , as Professor and the new Chair of CCS. Professor De Genova previously held teaching appointments in urban and political geography at King’s College London, and in sociocultural anthropology at Stanford, Columbia, and Goldsmiths -University of London, as well as visiting professorships or research positions at the Universities of Warwick, Bern, Amsterdam, and Chicago. Professor De Genova received his BA, MA, and PhD in sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Chicago.

Rebecca Storey was promoted to Full Professor Spring 2018.

Dr. Eberhart book cover Invites au banquet du Seigneur

Christian Eberhart ’s book What a Difference a Meal Makes: The Last Supper in the Bible and in the Christian Church (2016) was published in French translation as Invités au banquet du Seigneur: La communion dans la Bible et dans l’Église chrétienne (Lucid Books, 2018)

Rachel Afi Quinn was awarded the 2018 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Junior Faculty Career Enhancement National Fellowship Award.

Rachel Afi Quinn was awarded the 2018 Ross M. Lence Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.


Christian Eberhart ’s book, The Sacrifice of Jesus: Understanding Atonement Biblically (Wipf & Stock,2011) was published in its Second Edition (2018)