Columbia University Religion Graduate Students Association

Conference Contacts

This year's conference coordinators are Laura McTighe and Elizabeth Noelle Tinsley.

Laura McTighe is a Ph.D. student in North American Religions at Columbia University. Her research centers on lived religion, migration, and well-being, informed by an anthropology of social suffering and structural injustice. She is particularly interested in how these themes are negotiated and subverted by formerly incarcerated and convicted people's movements in the United States. Laura's research has unfolded in consistent conversation with her more than fifteen years of work to support community-led responses to the twin epidemics of mass imprisonment and HIV/AIDS. She earned her M.T.S. in Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 2008, and her B.A. in Religion and Peace & Conflict Studies from Haverford College in 2000. Her writings have been published in Islam and AIDS: Between Scorn, Pity and Justice (2009), the International Journal for Law and Psychiatry (2011), Beyond Walls and Cages: Bridging Immigrant Justice and Anti-Prison Organizing in the United States (2012) and a variety of community publications. She currently serves on the boards of Women With A Vision in New Orleans, Men & Women In Prison Ministries in Chicago and Reconstruction Inc. in Philadelphia.

Elizabeth Noelle Tinsley is a Ph.D. student in East Asian Religions at Columbia University. She researches, writes on, and practices at Mount Koya, a site of monastic training and scholarship in Japanese esoteric Buddhism. Her work focuses on the function of mountain deity paintings in clerical status and promotion procedures, and the significance of oral/aural experience in doctrinal debate ritual complexes. She is also working on Christian and Buddhist martyrdom imagery in Japanese postwar pulp magazines and contemporary painting and film. She holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Cultures from Otani University, and earned M.A.s in Japanese Studies (Art History) from SOAS and in History of Art from the University of Cambridge. Her writings include "Kukai and the Development of Shingon Buddhism" (in Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia, Brill, 2010) and "Intangible Gifts: Buddhist doctrinal debate as an offering to the kami at medieval Mount Koya" (in Otani Daigaku Daigakuin Kenkyu Kiyo, 2010).

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