Race, Religion, and the Formation of the Latinx Identity
(The University of Chicago, 2023)
In this class, we will focus on the conditions of possibility, development, and problems surrounding the formation of the Latinx identity. We will pay special attention to how such an identity is expressed through and informed by religious experience, and to how religious experience is theoretically articulated in Latinx theology and religious thought.
To pursue this task, we will devote the first part of the class to the examination of the conditions of possibility of latinidad by focusing on the formation of the Latinx self. What makes Latines, Latines? Is this a forcefully assigned identity or one that can be claimed and embraced with pride? Is there such a thing as a unified Latinx self or shall we favor approaches that stress hybridity or multiplicity? In the second part of the class, we will shift from self-formation to community-formation by examining the experience of mestizaje (racial mixing) and its theoretical articulation in Latinx theology. Is this concept useful to describe the Latinx experience or does it romanticize the violence of European colonialism? Lastly, we will return to the formation of Latinx identity considering the ambiguities of religious ethnic identity through the examples of tensions between Catholic and Evangelical Latinos, and those emerging from the experiences of Latinos converting to non-Christian religions.
The Latinx Religious Experience in the United States
(The University of Chicago, 2022/DePaul University, 2021)
Latinos? Hispanics? Latinx? How much do we know about one of the largest minorities (18.5%) in the USA? How does their culture shape their religious experience? What is the role of religion in their politics and activism? In this class we will explore these and other questions drawing from biographical narratives, history, sociology, and theology. In the first part of this course, students will be introduced to foundational biographical narratives and historical sources for studying the Latinx religious experience. In the second part of the course, students will examine the diversity of Latinx religion and the multiple functions of faith and devotion in the Latinx community. The course culminates with a close examination of three authors (Roberto Goizueta, Michelle González, and Nancy Pineda-Madrid) whose work allows us to understand the complex and diverse links between theological reflection, religious practice, and political action in the Latinx community.
Introduction to Theology
(Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2021-present)
Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations
(The University of Chicago, 2022)
Through a series of readings that include historical primary sources and examples of cultural production from antiquity to the present, we will investigate how bodies across a variety of cultures become sexed and gendered. In particular, we will ask how the very categories of sex and gender not only produce social meaning from bodies and their anatomical differences but may also be complicit in acts violence, oppression, and colonization. Thematically we will pay attention to the emergence and critique of the distinction between sex and gender; resistances to the gender binary; the relationship between gender, power, and authority; feminism and critiques of Western feminism; the category of woman as an object of scientific knowledge; and the flourishing of and violence against trans life. Finally, while we will be dealing with historical accounts in this course, the aim is to understand how the regulation of bodies in the past has informed and may challenge our understanding of the diversity of embodied experience in the present.
Religious and Progressive? Faith, Politics, and Moral Responsibility
(Loyola University Chicago, 2021)
This course offers a comprehensive approach to a fundamental question of moral responsibility: Can we be faithful to our religious values and to the moral commitments essential to the survival of democratic societies? In order to address this issue, we will first examine the importance of critical thinking about religion in the university setting, showing the decisive role religious values play in our world. Since there is no such a thing as “religion” or “moral responsibility” in a vacuum, we will then turn to the discipline of Christian Ethics. We will study its origins and main concerns, as a concrete case of ethical inquiry within the boundaries of a religious tradition. All these issues belong to the field of meta-ethics., that is, the field that studies the necessary conditions for moral reasoning and action.
We will then move to the examination of different contemporary authors and texts that apply their moral reasoning to specific issues in which the apparent tension between religious and democratic values arise: democracy itself, poverty and injustice, migration, race, gender, and sexual anthropology. Questions like the following will take center stage: Shall we pray for the poor or advocate for systemic economic change? Does religion oppress women or liberate them? Are Christians supposed to reject same-sex relations or can they support them? To this section of applied ethics we will devote most of our time.
Introduction to Religious Studies
(Loyola University Chicago, 2020)
This course is an introduction to the contemporary field of religious studies that explores the major sources, methods, and insights of this area of research. We will do so, first, examining the very possibility of studying religion as a disciplined effort: Is there such a thing as religion? How do we determine its content? Who has a say in that process? All these questions belong to what we may call meta-religious studies, that is, the area of inquiry that examines the necessary conditions to pursue the study of religion in the first place.
We will then move to the consideration of different classic and contemporary authors whose work has been decisive in the formation of the field. To this section of religious studies proper we will devote most of our time. Topics to be explore include: religion as delusion, religion as a political tool, religion as openness to transcendence, religion as the realization of moral ideals, the problem of secularization, and issues of gender and coloniality.
Introduction to Christian Ethics
(Loyola University Chicago, 2018-2020)
This course is a core course that explores the major sources, methods, and insights of Christian social and theological ethics. We will do so, first, examining the meaning of studying religion in the university setting. The goal here is to familiarize students with the importance of critical thinking about religion, especially given the decisive role of religious values in the United States. Since there is no such a thing as “religion” or “ethics” in a vacuum, we will then turn to the discipline of Christian Ethics examining its origins and main concerns, as a concrete case of ethical inquiry within the boundaries of a religious tradition. All these issues belong to the field of meta-ethics., that is, the field that studies the necessary conditions for ethical reflection.
We will then move to the consideration of different contemporary authors and texts that apply their ethical reflection to specific problems drawing from the resources of the Christian tradition. To this section of applied ethics we will devote most of our time. Particular attention will be given to the questions of modernity, poverty and injustice, migration, politics, race, gender, and sexual anthropology.