Our own Otto Maduro 2012 President of the American Academy of Religion!

Otto Maduro, a Latino philosopher and sociologist of religion (b. Venezuela 14/4/45) has lived in the U.S. since 1987. Since 1992, he has been on the faculty of Drew’s Theological School and Graduate Division of Religion, where he is Professor of World Christianity and Latin American Christianity. Married in 1984 to Dr. Nancy Noguera, a Venezuelan-born writer and also a Drew faculty member; they are parents to Mateo (b. 1995).

This year is Otto’s third on the executive council of the AAR board, having served as vice president, president-elect, and now as president. “This gives you an idea what can be done – and to see other colleagues working through the presidency,” he explains. Otto’s year-long term as president will conclude when he introduces the final plenary speaker of the November 2012 meeting. Excited about what he might accomplish this year, he adds, “These days the AAR is very much a team effort, with very few individual decision makers. And that includes the president.”

What the president can and must do is chose the theme for the annual meeting that culminates the presidential year, and plan four plenary sessions. “The theme is little more than an informal magnet, not mandatory for program units, but it affirms the importance of a certain topic.” Otto’s theme for Chicago 2012 will be Migrants’ Religions Under Imperial Duress. On Saturday night, Otto will deliver the presidential address. Ivone Gebara will speak Saturday afternoon on knowing God and knowing the human, at the crossroads of epistemology and theology. On Sunday there will be a panel of sociologists and anthropologists, and on Monday, Harvey Cox will deliver the Lifetime of Learning address. We wish Otto much success this year.

A world-traveling lecturer, a prolific author, and a polyglot teacher, Otto’s work focuses, first and foremost, on the interrelation of religious traditions (the Christian churches in particular) and the yearnings for liberation among the economically, racially, culturally, and/or sexually oppressed peoples (Latin American and U.S. Latinas/os in the first place). He is deeply interested, too, in wider issues of peace, social and ecological justice, epistemologies, and sexualities. He is a life-enjoying person with a weakness (among many others) for listening and dancing to folk music traditions from around the world — jazz, salsa, bluegrass, klezmer, blues, tango, zydeco, celtic and country music among these — preferably while chatting, drinking and eating among good friends!

He is co-founder with Dr. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz of both Drew’s Hispanic D. Min. Program (1997- ) and the Hispanic Institute of Theology (1997- ).  Since 2006 he is also national director of the Hispanic Summer Program in religion & theology — an independent, ecumenical, itinerant educational program striving since 1998 to enhance the education of U.S. Latina/o seminarians from all the Christian churches.

Otto has two M.A.s and a PhD, all three magna cum laude, from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. He has written five books and over 100 articles published in a dozen languages in five continents. He has taught and/or lectured in five languages in a number of academic, religious and socio-political institutions of over 20 countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

He is associate editor of the Journal of World Christianity, Cristianismo y Sociedad, ConciliumSIC, Liaisons Internationales, Pasos, Maiêutica, and the Journal of Hispanic/Latino Theology — and, fior many years, was, too, on the editorial board of Social Compass, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and the Journal of Contemporary Religion.  Among his many publications is Mapas para la Fiesta. Atlanta, GA: AETH (Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana), 1998 [3rd revised, enlarged and updated edition in Spanish].