Get to Know Them
We’re proud to create an exchange between some of the most influential voices in the field of ritual studies. Here are short introductions of the participants of the upcoming conference, with a link to more information on each.
Dr. Ron Grimes
Professor Emeritus, Wilfrid Laurier University, CAN
Ronald L. Grimes needs no introduction among ritual scholars, but deserves one nevertheless. Professor Grimes is the founder of the interdisciplinary field of ritual studies, a co-editor of the Oxford Ritual Studies series, and has published several seminal books on the subject, including The Craft of Ritual Studies.
Dr. Roberte Hamayon
Director d'études emerita, EHESS, FRA
Roberte N. Hamayon is a renowned expert in shamanism, with field experience in Siberian cultures and South-East Asia. She is the author of multiple influential publications related to ritual, including Why We Play: An Anthropological Study (New York: Hau, 2014).
Dr. Sarah Pike
Professor, California State University, Chico, USA
Professor Pike is the Director of Humanities Center at CSU, and known for her work on alternative subcultures, paganisms, and ritual. She is the author of several books relevant to ritual studies, most recently For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism.
Dr. Marion Bowman
Senior Lecturer, Open University, UK
Dr. Bowman is a religious sciences scholar specialized in vernacular religion, pilgrimage, and contemporary spirituality who has published on ritual throughout her career. She is the former vice-president of EASR, and the former president of both BASR and the Folklore Society.
Dr. Michael Puett
Professor, Harvard University, USA
Michael Puett is the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History and Anthropology at Harvard University. He is a co-author of Ritual and its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity.
Dr. Anna Fedele
Senior Researcher, Lisbon University Institute, PRT
Dr. Fedele is the founder and director of the Religion, Ritual and Power research group of the Catalan Institute of Anthropology. She is the author of the award-winning book Looking for Mary Magdalene: Alternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France. Dr. Fedele is a pioneer on the ethnographic study and theory of ritual creativity.
Dr. Michael Houseman
Directeur d’études, EHESS, FRA
Professor Houseman is the Chair of African religions at EPHE, and the former head of the African Worlds Study Center (CEMAf). He is specialized, among other topics, in ritual practices, and has co-authored the book Naven or the Other Self: A Relational approach to Ritual Action, an important contribution to ritual theory.
Dr. Carole M. Cusack
Professor, University of Sydney, AUS
Professor Cusack is an expert on ritual in historical contexts ranging from the medieval to contemporary times, and has published extensively on topics related to ritual, including The Sacred in Fantastic Fandom: Essays on the Intersection of Religion and Pop Culture.
Dr. Douglas Ezzy
Professor, University of Tasmania, AUS
Professor Ezzy is the editor of The Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. He is a sociologist who has studied ritual in the contexts of Shinto and contemporary Paganisms, and published i.a. on the intersections of ritual and health, and is currently working on ritual and the themes of grief and tragedy. He has published several books on ritual, including Sex, Death and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival.
Dr. Sabina Magliocco
Professor, University of British Columbia, CAN
Professor Magliocco is an honorary fellow of the Americal Folklore Society, the Chair of the Program in Religion, Literature and the Arts at UBC, and a recipient of the Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright and Hewlett fellowships. She is a pioneer in the study of Paganisms and ritual creativity, and an author of various books on the topic, including Neo-Pagan Sacred Art and Altars: Making Things Whole and Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America.
Dr. Adam Possamai
Professor, Western Sydney University, AUS
Professor Possamai is the Deputy Dean in the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at WSU, the former Director of the Religion and Society Research Centre and the former President of the Australian Association for the Study of Religions. His work focuses on the intersections of religion, popular culture, migration and consumerism.
Dr. Adrian Ivakhiv
Professor, University of Vermont, USA
Adrian Ivakhiv is a Professor of Environmental Thought and Culture at the UVM's Rubenstein School, and recently held the Steven Rubenstein Professorship for Environment and Natural Resources. His research is focused on the intersections of ecology, culture, media, philosophy and religion, and his books include Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona and Shadowing the Anthropocene: Eco-Realism for Turbulent Times.
Dr. Graham Harvey
Professor, Open University, UK
Professor Harvey is the former president of the BASR and editor of the Religion and the Senses series published by Equinox. He is a leading scholar of Paganisms and animism, and his publications include Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism and Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life.
Dr. H.J.M. (Eric) Venbrux
Professor, Radboud University, NL
Professor Venbrux is Chair and Professor of Comparative Religion at Radboud University. He is specialized in contemporary and traditional ritual and an expert in the field of mortuary rituals. He is a co-editor of the book Ritual, Conflict and Media, and he has published papers on ritual creativity in dutch death traditions.
Dr. Deirdre Meintel
Professor, University of Montreal, CAN
Professor Meintel is the director of the Groupe de reserche diversité urbaine (GRDU) and a former director of the Centre d'études ethniques des universités montréalaises (CEETUM). Her work involves religion's connections to topics such as transnationality, ethnicity and diversity, and she has studied ritual related to migration, family life and contemporary spiritualitues.
Dr. Géraldine Mossière
Professor, University of Montreal, CAN
Géraldine Mossière is an associate professor at the Institute of Religious Studies at the University of Montreal. She held the EHESS-IMéRA chair in transregional studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Marseille (France) in 2019-2020. Professor Mossière is a specialist on issues of religious conversion and transnationality, and the author of a recent paper on rituality titled Virtuosités rituelles et souffrances spirituelles: de la compassion comme charisme chez les intervenants en soins spirituels au Québec.
Dr. Stefania Palmisano
Professor, University of Torino, ITA
Professor Palmisano is the coordinator of the Contemporary Religion and Faiths in Transition research centre (CRAFT) at the University of Torino. She is an ethnographer of contemporary religious experience, from mainstream religions to new and alternative movements, and the co-editor of Invention of Tradition and Syncretism in Contemporary Religions: Sacred Creativity.
Dr. Monika Salzbrunn
Professor, University of Lausanne, CH
Professor Salzbrunn is the recipient of the ERC Consolidator Grant for her project "ARTIVISM: Art and activism. Creativity and performance as subversive means of expression in super-diverse cities", and the former director of the Research Institute for Social Sciences of Contemporary Religions (ISSR). Currently she co-leads the Migration, Alterity and Internationalization network of the French Sociological Association and the research committee of Urban Sociology at the International Association of French-speaking Sociologists.
Dr. Terhi Utriainen
Professor, University of Turku, FIN
Professor Utriainen is the project leader in the Learning from New Religion and Spirituality research project at UTU and the author of several books related to ritual, including Enkeleitä työpöydällä: Arjen ja lumon etnografiaa [Angels on my desk: Ethnography on enchantment and everyday realities]. Her focus is on themes such as embodiment, death, gender and contemporary vernacular religion.
Dr. Jone Salomonsen
Professor, University of Oslo, NOR
Professor Salomonsen is the manager of Reassembling Democracy: Ritual as Cultural Resource (REDO) research project. Her research interests are religion, ritual and gender, and she is among the pioneers of studying ritual creativity, including her publications Enchanted Feminism: Ritual, Gender and Divinity Among the Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco, and The Ethno-Methodology of Ritual Invention in Contemporary Culture — Two Pagan and Christian Cases.
Dr. Jim Spickard
Professor Emeritus, University of Redlands, US
Jim Spickard is an ethnographer and former theater director who has written about the role of experience in religious rituals. He is particularly interested in the ways that rituals unroll in time and guide participants’ attention, both experientially and conceptually. Two chapters of his latest book, Alternative Sociologies of Religion: Through Non-Western Eyes, used concepts from Navajo ceremonies to explore the rituals that sustained commitment in an activist Catholic commune. He is currently the President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion and the Past-President of the Research Committee on the Sociology of Religion of the International Sociological Association.
Dr. Alessandro Testa
Assistant Professor, Charles University, CZ
Dr. Testa is Assistant Professor and the recipient of the ERC CZ Starting Grant for his project “The Re-Enchantment of Central-Eastern Europe”. His recent publications include Rituality and Social (Dis)Order: The Historical Anthropology of Popular Carnival in Europe, as well as numerous articles and chapters on ritual.
Dr. Tuomas Martikainen
Senior Researcher, University of Eastern Finland, FIN
Dr. Martikainen is a religious studies scholar and the former director of the Migration Institute of Finland. He is specialized in religious and ethnic diversity, and his research projects include studies on multiethnic religious organizations and religion in the consumer society.
Dr. Johannes Quack
Professor, University of Zurich, CH
Professor Quack studies topics such as religion, secularity and ritual theory. He is the co-editor of the book The Problem of Ritual Efficacy and the 'Ritual Efficacy' special issue of Journal of Ritual Studies, and an author of chapters and articles included in both.
Dr. Rafael Walthert
Professor, University of Zurich, CH
Professor Walthert is the coordinator of the 'Religion and society' research committee of the Swiss Society for Sociology / Swiss Society for Religious Studies (SGR-SSSR). He is the author of multiple publications focusing on ritual, including the recent book Religiöse Rituale und soziale Ordnung.
Dr. Susannah Crockford
Lecturer, University of Exeter, UK
Dr. Crockford is an anthropologist specializing in religion and ecology in the USA and UK. She is a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Exeter, and her post-doctoral research was with the NARMESH-project at the University of Ghent.
Doctoral candidate, University of Montreal, CAN
Ms Kostecki studies crafted end-of-life rituals in Canada and Switzerland. Her reserarch interests include ritual creativity, hospital chaplaincy and spiritual care.
Dr. Cristina Gutiérrez Zuñiga
Professor, University of Guadalajara, MEX
Dr. Gutiérrez is a professor and researcher at El Colegio de Jalisco and University of Guadalajara. She is the co-founder of the Researchers on Religion in Mexico Network (RIFREM) and the former representative of Mexico in the ISSR council. Her academic interests include religious diversity and alternative spirituality in Mexico.
Dr. Renée De La Torre
Research Professor, CIESAS, MEX
Renée De La Torre has focused on the study of religious diversity in Mexico and the practice of contemporary religiosity. Her many accolades include a honorary doctorate awarded by the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, and she has published extensively on ritual and related topics.
PhD Candidate, Lecturer, University of Quebec, CAN
Nicolas Boissière is a doctoral candidate and a part-time lecturer in the Religious Studies Departement of University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada. Based on anthropological and sociological perspectives, he studies ritual creativity, as well as invention of tradition and religious bricolage, within Contemporary Paganism and New Age religions and spiritualities.
Dr. Yael Dansac
Yael Dansac has recently completed her PhD - congratulations! She studies ritual creativity and ritual design in New Age practices held at Prehistoric monuments, mostly in Northwest France. Her recent publications include "Embodied Engagements with the Megaliths of Carnac: Somatic Experience, Somatic Imagery, and Bodily Techniques in Contemporary Spiritual Practices".
Dr. Alfonsina Bellio
Directrice d’études, EPHE-PSL, FRA
Alfonsina Bellio is director of studies at the EPHE in Paris. Since 2021 she has been the director of the Groupe Sociétés Religions Laïcités, GSRL, Paris. Her research focuses on non-institutional ritual practices in Southern Europe.
Dr. Denise Lombardi
University of Torino, IT / EPHE, FRA
Dr. Lombardi has studied rituality in the contexts of traditional and contemporary Shamanism, Neopaganism, and contemporary alternative healing traditions. She is part of the ReSpirO (Religion in Hospitals) project at University of Torino, and the author of various publications on ritual, most recently Percorsi e prache del neo-sciamanismo contemporaneo in Italia e Francia, and the article 'The crossing to the heart of Mexican neo-shamanism: a case study of French spiritual tourists'.
Dr. Olga Cieslarová
Charles University, CZ
Olga Cieslarová is a researcher at the Charles University in Prague (CZ) and at Universität Basel (CH). She has been dealing with the Fasnacht carnival ritual in Basel for a long time. In 2012, together with Martin Pehal and others, she founded a new urban ritual in Prague (Velvet Carnival), an annual event directly inspired by Basel Fasnacht. Her recent publications explore the dynamics of ritual change and the role of inner rebellion in ritual innovation: "Second Order Liminality - The Dynamics of Ritual Change in the Basel Fasnacht", and the reflexive and meditative aspects of ritual: Beneath the Larvae - Experiencing the Masks in Carnival of Basel (forthcoming, with M. Pehal). She is involved in the ritual encyclopaedia ritualmotion.org. Her research combines perspectives and skills from religious studies and performing arts.
Dr. Martin Pehal
Charles University, CZ
Martin Pehal is an assistant professor at the Charles University in Prague, and his research interests include ritual studies and ancient Egyptian religion. Dr. Pehal has studied Prague's Velvet Carneval, and his recent publications include “Velvet Carnival: Play and Embodied Reflexivity”, in Koubová, MacLean & Urban, Play and Democracy: Philosophical Perspectives (in press), and the co-authored “If Not Now – When? If Not Us – Who?”: Ritual and Material Landscape of the “Velvet Revolution” Celebrations in the contemporary Czech Republic (forthcoming).
PhD Candidate, University of Fribourg, CH
Daniela Stauffacher researches religion and migration in Europe. She has conducted a study in the so called "Jungle" of Calais (F) where she investigated makeshift spaces of ritual activities. Currently she writes her PhD thesis on the ritual management of border deaths in Southern Italy.
Dr. François Gauthier
Professor, University of Fribourg, CH
Dr Gauthier is a socio-anthropologist of religion whose research interests include the Burning Man Festival, musical subcultures, alter-globalization, political radicalities, religious theory and the gift paradigm. He is the director of the Ritual Creativity project at Fribourg University, and his latest book is Religion, Modernity, Globalisation: Nation-State to Market.
Dr. Katri Ratia
Researcher, University of Fribourg, CH
Dr. Ratia is interested in contemporary ritual and ritual theory. She has recently defended her doctorate on Rainbow Gatherings, and is currently working on the 'Ritual Creativity' research project funded by the SNF, which includes organizing this very seminar! Her recent publication, "Connected to the Past": Creative Rituality at Etruscan Archaeological Sites in the Frame of European Rainbow Gatherings" is available online, and her monograph Alternative Spirituality, Counterculture and European Rainbow Gatherings is forthcoming.