Assistant Professor Comparative Religious Studies
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.