Peggy Levitt sociologist, author and professor

QUESTIONS OF RELIGION 

A. RELIGION AND RESCALING:
HOW SANTO TORRIBIO PUT SANTA ANA ON THE GLOBAL RELIGIOUS MAP
(With Renee de la Torree) 

The idea of global cities, which become more important than the nations where they are located because of their more preeminent geopolitical role, is widely accepted. But there is a parallel global religious map, complete with its own hotspots and hierarchies of power, which has not received sufficient attention. In this article, we show how religion has contributed to the rescaling of Santa Ana, a former backward town in Jalisco State in Mexico that now receives thousands of visitors each week. The town’s changing religious significance was enhanced by and enhanced its other economic, political and social meanings. Taken together, they catapulted Santa Ana to regional, national, and transnational prominence. Our case showcases, as does Hamzah Muzaini, that scale is relational. How much this pilgrimage affects scale is, in large measure, determined by how much it gives rise to connections between places and the people who inhabit them. 

B. WHY IS MUSLIM STUDIES LIKE ETHNIC STUDIES?

In a 1999 article, political scientists Aristide Zolberg and Long Litt Woon asked the provocative question, “Why is Islam like Spanish?” Their argument was that, despite its professed secularity, the social glue that holds Europe together was its shared Christian past, which Islam directly threatened. In the United States, shared language has formed the basis for national unity, transforming Spanish into a comparable threat. This interesting title sparked my thinking in this project and its title, “Why is Muslim Studies like Ethnic Studies?” It explores how the organization of and teaching about ethnic diversity in the United States affects how Islam is now being incorporated into the social and intellectual life at the university today. How do earlier patterns of structuring and managing difference affect how religious studies gets taught about and organized? The project will eventually expand to include diversity management regimes in other countries, and the deep cultural structures that hold them in place, affect the organization of religious pluralism.