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Loren Lybarger

Loren Lybarger, portrait
Ellis 248, Athens Campus

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Updated CV available on request.

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Ph.D. Divinity School, University of Chicago, 2002

M.A. Christian-Muslim Relations, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1995

M.A. Linguistics, American University in Cairo, 1991

B.A. History, Earlham College, 1986

Research and Specializations

  • Religion, State Violence, and Political Identity
  • Secularism and Religious Resurgence
  • Diaspora, Nationalism, and Religion
  • Memory, Trauma, and Labors of Justice
  • Utopia and Dystopia in Climate Disaster Spiritualities
  • Middle Eastern Religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism)
  • Ecstasy and Renunciation in Islam (Sufism)
  • Islamist Political Movements
  • What Is Religion Anyway and Why Does It Matter?

Professor Lybarger is a religious studies specialist (Islam; comparative religions) with more than 20 years of experience in ethnographic field study methods. His research and teaching have focused on how religion, nationalism, war, mass displacement, and state violence shape identities and demands for justice across generations. He has published two books examining these questions in relation to Palestinian experiences in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Identity and Religion in Palestine: The Struggle between Islamism and Secularism in the Occupied Territories) and in the United States (Palestinian Chicago: Identity in Exile). Lybarger has also worked collaboratively on research addressing religion, memory, and demands for justice in Argentina. This project has resulted in a short film (see link further below) and a book titled, Commemorative Literacies and Labors of Justice: Resistance, Reconciliation, and Recovery in Buenos Aires and Beyond. He is developing two new projects focusing on how religion shapes responses to climate change in rural regions such as Northern California, Southern Indiana, and Southeastern Ohio and on Palestinian communities in the European Union. His current teaching encompasses topics in Islamic Studies (CARS 3020/5020: Introduction to Islam; CARS 3030/5030: Political Islam; and CARS: 3040/5040: Sufism) as well as comparative courses such as CARS 3240: Theories of Religion; CARS 3210: Religion and Violence; and CARS 2400 Introduction to the Study of Religion. Lybarger has served in leadership positions in the Classics and Religious Studies Department, the Ohio University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the American Academy of Religion, and the Palestinian American Research Center.

  • Watch a video about his fieldwork in Argentina, Argentina: Days of Memory, made by executive editors Paul Abowd, James S. Damico, and Loren Lybarger.
  • Lybarger's co-authored book on Argentina was the topic of two separate podcast episodes. The Visions of Education podcast focuses on bringing big ideas to K-12 educators, especially high school social science teachers. The New Books Network podcast features groundbreaking work across multiple disciplines. Tune in for some great conversations about Argentina, memory, and struggles for social justice in these two episodes!

Selected Honors and Awards

2023 Baker Fund Research Grant, Ohio University, for "Nordic Palestine: Refugees and the Politics of Scandinavian Identity and Integration"

2022 Outstanding Faculty Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Award, College of Arts and Sciences, Ohio University

2015-16 Senior Visiting Fellowship, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, declined due to requirement to return to teaching duties at Ohio University

2013-15 Senior Fellowship (two years), Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago

2013-14 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship

2010 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend

2010 Ohio University Research Council Grant

2005 Summer Scholars Research Grant, California State University

2003 Research and Creative Activities Grant, California State University

2003 Faculty Development Grant, California State University, declined in lieu of simultaneous receipt of Research and Creative Activities Grant

2001-02 MacArthur/CASPIC Fellow, Council for Advanced Studies in Peace and International Cooperation, University of Chicago

2001-02 Junior Fellowship, Martin Marty Center for Advanced Research in Religion, University of Chicago Divinity School, declined in lieu of MacArthur/Caspic Fellowship

2000-01 Henry Luce Foundation Fellow in Theological Education, University of Chicago Divinity School

1999-00 Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship, Bethlehem, West Bank

1999 Distinction, Doctoral Qualifying Exams, three areas: Key Concepts in the Sociology of Religion; Sociological Theories of Religion—Classical and Contemporary; Islam—History and Ethnography; Modern Christianity, University of Chicago Divinity School

1999-00 J. Coert Rylaarsdam Prize in the University of Chicago Divinity School for Outstanding Work in Interfaith Relations

1996-97 Title VI Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, one-year tuition and stipend for advanced Arabic study at the University of Chicago

Selected Publications


2022 Commemorative Literacies and Labors of Justice: Resistance, Reconciliation, and Recovery in Buenos Aires and Beyond. With James S. Damico and Edward Brudney. London, UK: Routledge

2020 Palestinian Chicago: Identity in Exile. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. Available as open access e-book and in paperback

2007 Identity and Religion in Palestine: The Struggle between Islamism and Secularism in the Occupied Territories. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; reissued as paperback in August 2012

Edited Special Topics Journal Forum

2012 Special Topics Forum on Martin Riesebrodt’s The Promise of Salvation, in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 51, 3 (co-editor of the forum and co-author with Mary Ellen Konieczny and Kelly H. Chong of introductory essay)

Refereed Journal Articles

2023 “What Type of Crisis Is This? A Religious Community’s Response to the 2018 Camp Fire,” with James S. Damico, Language and Ecology 

2021 “Secularism and the Religious Shift in Palestinian Chicago: Implications for Solidarity and Activism,” Journal of Palestine Studies

2018 “Religion and the Commemoration of the Disappeared in Argentina 40 Years after the Dictatorship: A Study of Martyrological Memory at the Church of Santa Cruz,” with James S. Damico and Edward Brudney, Journal of Religion and Society 20: 1-29

2016 “Commemoration, Testimony, and Protest in Argentina: An Exploration of Response and Responsibilities,” with James S. Damico, Ubiquity: The Journal of Literature, Literacy, and the Arts 3, no. 1 (Spring)

2015 “How Far is Too Far? Defining Self and Other in Religious Studies and Christian Missiology,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 84, no. 1; online publication date, Sept. 1, 2015

2014 “Nationalism and the Contingency of the Religious Return among Second-Generation Palestinian Immigrants in the United States: A Chicago Case Study,” The Muslim World 104 (July): 250-280

2012 “Theory as a Tool in the Social Scientific Study of Religion and Martin Riesebrodt’s The Promise of Salvation,” with Mary Ellen Konieczny and Kelly H. Chong, The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 51, 3: 397-411

2008 “The Demise of Adam in the Qisas al-Anbiya’: the Symbolic Politics of Death and Reburial in the Islamic Stories of the [Biblical] Prophets,” Numen 55, 5: 497-538

2007 “For Church or Nation? Islamism, Secular-Nationalism, and the Transformation of Christian Identities in Palestine,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75, 4: 777-813

2005 “Palestinian Identity in the Post-Oslo Period: A Case-Study of Generation Effects in a West Bank Refugee Camp,” Social Compass 52, 2: 143-156

2000 “Gender and Prophetic Authority in the Qur’anic Story of Maryam: A Literary Approach,” The Journal of Religion 80 (April): 240-270

Book Chapters

2022 “‘Deliver Us from Evil’: Religion and the Problem of Political Violence and Peace,” chapter in Religion and Peace: Global Perspectives and Possibilities, edited by Nukhet A. Sandal and Ingo Trauschweizer, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

2013 “Other Worlds to Live In: Palestinian Retrievals of Religion and Tradition,” chapter in Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st Century, edited by Rochelle Davis and Mimi Kirk, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press

Courses Taught

  • CARS 2400 Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • CARS 3020 Islam
  • CARS 3030 Political Islam
  • CARS 3040 Sufism: Mysticism and Asceticism in Islam
  • CARS 3210 Religion and Violence
  • CARS 3240 Theories of Religion
  • CARS 3250 Contemporary Religious Thought