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Haslam Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Marco Institute is pleased to have Adam Bursi, a Ph.D. graduate of Cornell University, continue as the Jimmy and Dee Haslam Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Having completed his doctoral program in Near Eastern Studies in spring 2015, Dr. Bursi is a scholar of religion in late antiquity, and has spent his first year as Haslam Fellow revising his doctoral dissertation, “Holy Spit and Magic Spells: Religion, Magic, and the Body in Late Ancient Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,” for publication as a monograph.

This past year as the Jimmy and Dee Haslam Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Bursi has worked on research and taught a graduate seminar “Believing Bodies: Performing Religion in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages” at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in spring semester. This course considered religious phenomena through the lens(es) of bodies, both individual and communal, within late antique and early medieval Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Last fall, Adam presented papers at the Third Regional Late Antiquity Consortium (ReLACs) in Knoxville and at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature in Atlanta. Drawing upon material from his 2015 Cornell University dissertation, these papers examined the interactions and debates between late antique Muslims and Christians regarding the veneration and usage of relics of holy men and prophets. In particular, Adam has been exploring usages of relics of the Prophet Muhammad as performative signifiers of Islamic identity in the early Islamic period. These topics characterize the research he has been pursuing while a Haslam Fellow and that he plans to publish in the future.

Adam has submitted a chapter—titled “A Hair’s Breadth: the Prophet Muḥammad’s Hair as Relic in Early Islamic Texts”—for a peer-reviewed volume to be published in 2016 on competition over religious relics in the late antique period.


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