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Justine M. Bakker

Assistant Professor Comparative Religious Studies

Bio


Justine M. Bakker is assistant professor in Comparative Religious Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen. Broadly, her work concentrates on the intersections of race and religion. It encompasses two broad research foci. Firstly, a study of alternative and esoteric forms of religion in the African diaspora. Secondly, she's concerned with conceptual and epistemological questions in the field of religious studies. What is religion? How did ideas about race inform and shape our conceptualizations of terms such as religion and esotericism?

Justine earned her PhD in Religion from Rice University (Houston, TX) in May 2020. Her dissertation looked at the work of poet M. NourbeSe Philip, novelist Fred D’Aguiar and visual artist Ellen Gallagher to rethink the categories of “religion” and “the human.” Engaging their works, the dissertation establishes and develops a theory of parareligion. The project straddles religious studies, black critical theory, and the blue humanities; the final year of dissertation writing was supported by the Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship (administered by the Institute for Citizens and Scholars (formerly Woodrow Wilson Foundation)). She's currently revising her dissertation into a manuscript for publication under the title Demonic Oceans: Parareligion in the African Diaspora. You can find more on parareligion in a recent blog post she wrote for the research hub Counterpoint: Navigating Knowledge. 

Justine is also affiliated as a researcher with KU Leuven, to execute her project "Race and the Project of Distinction in the Study of Religion," which is funded by FWO (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek).

She has recent essays in the journal Religion (2020) and the edited volumes Esotericism and African American Religious Experience (2015), Hermes Explains (2019) and New Approaches to the Study of Esotericism (2021). She is an editor for Correspondences: Journal for the Study of Esotericism.

Projects


Demonic Ocean: Parareligion in the African Diaspora

Researchers: Justine M. Bakker

Justine’s first book project, Demonic Ocean: Parareligion in the African Diaspora, will be a revised version of her dissertation (defended April 2020). Straddling religious studies, black studies and the blue humanities, Demonic Ocean looks at contemporary Afrodiasporic intellectual, cultural, and religious works that wrestle with the oceanic environment of the Middle Passage. It establishes and develops a theory of parareligion.

Race and the Project of Distinction in the Study of Religion

Researchers: Justine M. Bakker

The boundary-crossing stories that encouraged me to reconsider how we define “human” and “religion” in my first book project, Demonic Oceans, also form the impetus for a second project, which I am currently developing. I will mobilize black critical theory—the work of Nahum Chandler, Ashon Crawley, and Sylvia Wynter in particular—to interrogate the production and consolidation of distinctions in the study of religion.

Publications


Blog post

On COP26 and the Need for Parareligion
By Justine M. Bakker
November 2021
CounterPoint: Navigating Knowledge


Book Chapter

Race and (the Study of) Esotericism
By Justine M. Bakker
December 2020
in: New Approaches to the Study of Esotericism


Blog Post

Blue Religion
By Justine M. Bakker
November 2020
CounterPoint: Navigating Knowledge


Blog Post

Covid-19 and Environmental Racism in Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’.
By Justine M. Bakker
May 2020
CounterPoint: Navigating Knowledge.


Blog post

Offshore: Descending into the Blue Humanities.
By Justine M. Bakker
November 2019
CounterPoint: Navigating Knowledge


Journal article

Hidden Presence: Race and/in the History, Construct and Study of Western Esotericism
By Justine M. Bakker
July 2019
Religion

Justine M. Bakker

Assistant Professor Comparative Religious Studies

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