I study how and why prayer practices contribute to the formation of religious subjectivities. My research focuses on contemporary American Catholicism. I theorize prayer as practices whereby practitioners traverse dichotomies between the communal-individual and rote-spontaneous as they work on their worlds and are worked on. I use historically informed ethnographic methods in order to study prayer in contemporary religious life. My dissertation, Catholicism Remixed: Catholic Prayer and the Making of Millennial Catholic Subjectivity, is an ethnography of prayer. I conducted fourteen months of fieldwork among young adult Catholics who serve as missionaries on college campuses in the U.S. Their mission is to invite students to become “dynamically orthodox Catholics,” which is a Catholic identity defined by adherence to papal decrees and complimentary gender roles. With a carefully policed relationship with evangelical Protestants and a savvy social media presence, missionaries market Catholicism to American college students. Download the full abstract of my dissertation here.
A writing sample, the third chapter of my dissertation, “‘Be Saints!’ Missionaries’ Devotionalism and the Making of Catholic Subjectivities” is downloadable here. The study of religious experience, as a historically grounded and socially informed phenomenon, is my entry point for my broader research interests in contemporary American religions. I am co-editor of From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism (Liturgical Press 2009), which investigates how women in their 20s and 30s articulate creative ways to flourish in their religious identity. This book won second place in the Gender Issues category of the 2010 Catholic Press Awards.
My next project is a historically informed ethnography of the Sisters of Life, an order of Catholic nuns. Founded in response to legalized abortion in the U.S. and changes in religious life after the Second Vatican Council, these women wear traditional habits while providing housing and adoption services to women in unplanned pregnancies. This project uses gender studies and cultural analysis to examine the religio-political lives of contemporary nuns. It also provides a much-needed case study of on-the-ground Catholic pro-life politics in the twenty-first century.
As a researcher of women’s religious networks with Harvard University’s Pluralism Project from 2005-2007. From that research, I published a peer-reviewed journal article, “Buddhist Women and Interfaith Work in the U.S” (Buddhist-Christian Studies, Vol. 27, 2007).