AAR Member Spotlight

Candace Lukasik

Candace Lukasik is an assistant professor of religion and anthropology at Mississippi State University and a former postdoctoral research associate at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her PhD in sociocultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her research focuses on the intersections of transnational migration, religion, race, and empire.

Her first book manuscript, 
Martyrs and Migrants: Coptic Christians and the Persecution Politics of U.S. Empire, ethnographically examines how the American politicization of Middle Eastern Christians has shaped patterns of migration and impacted inter-communal solidarities. She has been an AAR member since 2014 and is on the steering committees for the Anthropology of Religion, Middle Eastern Christianity, and Religion and Politics program units.

Why did you get involved with AAR and how is your work aligned?

I joined AAR early on in graduate school (2014) to connect with other scholars of Middle Eastern Christianity as well as anthropologists of religion. The Annual Meeting and the Units I am now active within as a steering committee member (including the Middle Eastern Christianity, Anthropology of Religion, and Religion and Politics Units) have been vital resources for expanding my thinking on religion (particularly Christianity and Islam) as well as politics and theology.

What is your area of expertise or field of study?

I am a sociocultural anthropologist of religion, transnational migration, and imperial formations. My work seeks to understand migration as enmeshed within unequal balances of power and geopolitical interest, with attention to the ways US imperialism, and its European colonial antecedents, have (re)shaped migrant subjectivities, particularly among Middle Eastern Christians and Muslims. This pursuit has led me toward an ethnography of empire by looking to its shadows—focusing on the ways it transforms the political alliances and religious practices of racially-marginalized migrant communities. I am also beginning to explore the relationship between religion and indigeneity for a new project, particularly focusing on transnational and diasporic translations of indigeneity in the Middle East.

How has AAR been beneficial to you and your career?

AAR has been an academic home in that it has been a gathering space to think critically about religion with other scholars outside of my institutional and immediate disciplinary and area studies circles; many of whom later became close friends. Out of all academic organizations and annual conferences, it has been the site in which I have workshopped much of my most important work to date. It is an invaluable intellectual space, especially for early career scholars such as myself.

What book is on your nightstand that you're reading or intend to read in the future?

I just finished Noor Naga's If An Egyptian Cannot Speak English, which is a brilliant and captivating novel that explores how diaspora and power asymmetries impact upon intimate encounter and friendship in homeland contexts. For scholars of Egypt and the Middle East more broadly, the novel gets at the heart of post-revolutionary forces of hope, despair, and ambiguity.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy antique shopping, listening to mahraganat and classic rock music, and watching/participating in performance art.

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This feature is devoted to profiling AAR members making waves in their departments, institutions, and communities—as well as AAR at large!

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