a series about our graduating seniors
“I also like how the Religion Department let me be in my Ivory Tower crafting theories–but, more importantly, encouraged me to really think about what’s happening on the ground, where the real bodies are at, and to be self-critical and retrospective of the words, ideas and agendas we talk about. I have not noticed this type of radical self-awareness of academia in other departments..”–Conor Murphy ’20
Why did you major in Religion?
I really like people watching–looking at people’s behavior and whatnot. Why do people do the things they do while thinking about what they are thinking? How do we each construct our own realities every day that affect our actions? A big part of that reality construct is religion or these things that may or may not be religion, but definitely sometimes “religion.”
I also like how the Religion Department let me be in my Ivory Tower crafting theories–but, more importantly, encouraged me to really think about what’s happening on the ground, where the real bodies are at, and to be self-critical and retrospective of the words, ideas and agendas we talk about. I have not noticed this type of radical self-awareness of academia in other departments.
Where do you imagine yourself in 10 years?
Oh god! Still studying Chinese, maybe ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I have a lot of dreams that can’t all exist at once in the future. So I at least hope I am producing helpful knowledge and advocating cross-cultural communication. Whether it’s on a macro-scale like producing papers and research for universities or other large institutions or a micro-scale like teaching the Chinese language or helping students travel abroad. Maybe even through brewing beer! Who knows?! I sure don’t!
Imagine a first-year student has asked your advice about REL courses. What’s the one she shouldn’t dream about missing? Why?
First, everyone should take a REL course! Religion is always in the room and you need to figure out the ways colonialism has naturalized in your ideas. Colonialism is lame.
For me, the one course they shouldn’t miss is REL 145: Religion in China. Asia and specifically China–in my opinion as a Chinese & REL double major–is an interesting location with unique problems where we see the failure of translation of the word “religion.” Also, I am a big fan of Chinese ghost stories and ghost culture which is also covered in the course. A lot of popular ghost stories and horror movies come from Asia!
If you could write any book, what would it be?
Something about Chinese ghosts. It could be fiction or nonfiction, probably a little of both.
Any fond memories of 481 Main Street you want to share?
It’s my favorite building on campus. I just love the atmosphere of the whole building. More importantly, I have had a really tough college experience: rocky waters and weak knee(s)! 481 Main street and REL classes make me feel safe and valid. All of the Religion Department profs are my heroes.
COVID-19 Bonus Question! You’re finishing up in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tell us something about that experience!
It blows! It is so difficult for me to work, regardless of me recovering from my second right leg surgery of 2020.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the cycle of Orientalism to emerge again. Thanks to the Religion Department I feel really comfortable navigating through and debunking xenophobic and racist discourses. As someone who has spent time in China and has done a lot of academic work about the country, it’s just a bummer to see this stuff going on.