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Surveillance and the Racialization of Religion in the National-Security State

Sylvester Johnson will present the Thomas Lamb Eliot Lecture on Religion.

Among the pivotal developments in the twentieth-century history of American religion were the ascent of the national security paradigm and the militarization of policing. Both produced indelible consequences for minority religious communities, most notably those of American Muslims. In this talk, Sylvester Johnson examines the American history of racializing religion under the political architecture of surveillance and the national security paradigm. Johnson will explain the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) engagement with religious communities to account for the historical and contemporary role of counterintelligence and police power in race governance, religious freedom, and necropolitics.

Sylvester Johnson is Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities and Professor of Religion at Virginia Polytechnic and State University. The founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, he is a nationally recognized humanities scholar specializing in the study of race, religion, and technology.

Johnson is a founding co-editor of the Journal of Africana Religions. He has authored two books: African American Religions, 1500–2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom, published by Cambridge University Press in 2015 and a winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award, and The Myth of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity: Race, Heathens, and the People of God, a 2004 Palgrave MacMillan publication that garnered the American Academy of Religion’s Best First Book Award. Johnson also co-edited, with Steven Weitzman, The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11, which the University of California Press published in 2017.

Sponsored by the department of religion. Free and open to the public.

Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 4:15pm to 6:00pm

Psychology, 105
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland, OR 97202, USA

Event Type



Faculty, Students, Alumni, Open to the Public, Staff



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