Drew has much to celebrate at AAR and SBL this year! Kicking off the excitement, the November meeting of the American Academy of Religion marks the close of Otto Maduro’s term as president of the Academy. Among his presidential duties, Professor Maduro chose the theme of the annual meeting. While Dr. Maduro describes the theme as “little more than an informal magnet, not mandatory for program units, he acknowledges that it affirms the importance of a certain topic.” That topic—Migrants’ Religions Under Imperial Duress—reflects not only Otto’s area of passion, but also the vibrancy of activist scholarship at Drew.
Otto will deliver the presidential address Saturday at 8pm. In his talk, entitled Reflections on Epistemology, Ethics, and Politics in the Study of the Religious “Stranger,” Otto will invite us to reflect on the need to appreciate and explore the complex interconnections between how we know and use what we know, our ethics, and the power structures which bind them both, shaping our perceptions of the religious other.
This world-traveling lecturer, prolific author, and polyglot teacher finds good company at Drew. Many of his colleagues share his focus 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 and his deep interest in wider issues of peace, social and ecological justice, epistemologies, and sexualities. In fact, Otto so esteems his colleagues at Drew that it has become his practice to audit one course every semester so that he can learn from them in the classroom.
Along with being a stellar scholar, Otto is a deep lover of life with a weakness (among many others, as he puts it), 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 in the company of good friends! He will indulge his weakness for festive socializing at the Drew University Gathering on Sunday evening from 9p-11p. This informal gathering will be an opportunity to reconnect—or connect for the first time—with other members of Drew’s dazzling academic community.
There are many more opportunities to connect with Dr. Maduro—and other Drew professors and students—at the plethora of panels and presentations each of them will participate in throughout the AAR/SBL conferences. For your convenience, we’ve prepared this quick reference guide you can print and pack.—Shelley L. Dennis, GDR Graduate Student Intern.