Two Trinity College faculty members—Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies Timothy R. Landry and Hobart Professor of Classical Languages Gary Reger—have been granted Fulbright awards.
Landry is headed to the Africa Regional Research Program to study magico-religious objects used in sorcery in the country of Bénin. With his 10-month grant, Landry plans to begin his research abroad in fall 2019 and return to campus by fall 2020. In Bénin, Landry said, a sorcerer is a morally neutral occult expert who uses objects, such as animal remains, to create a wide range of cures, powers, and charms for clients or family members.
The work Landry will be doing is closely related to the courses he teaches at Trinity, which include “Anthropology of Religion,” “The Occult in America,” “The Cradle of Voodoo,” and “Religions of Africa.” He also teaches a January Term course in Bénin called “West Africa Abroad.”
“I’m teaching a new class on magic, sorcery, and witchcraft across the globe, which I designed because of the research I’ve prepared for this project,” Landry said. “I hope my experience is going to enrich my classes.”
Reger will spend four months in fall 2020 at the University of Western Australia in Perth, where he will study deserts. As a scholar with a long-term interest in this subject, Reger said that the grant will help fund the research and writing of a book, provisionally titled History of the Desert.
Reger’s interest in deserts is multifaceted. Because deserts occupy about 30 percent of the land surface of the planet, he said, understanding them is key to understanding the planet as a whole. Also, he said, “Deserts have been the locus for a lot of human activity, including important economic activity and the formation of religious traditions. And desertification is going to be a major component of climate change; we’re already seeing that begin to happen. So a better grasp not just of the science of deserts but of their sociology, their history, and their cultural formation is really going to be crucial to the human future.” This study of deserts connects to Reger’s work in the Greek and Roman world; in spring 2019, he taught a course called “Rome in the Desert,” a 300-level history course cross-listed with classical studies.
Earlier in 2019, Trinity was named as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Top Producing Institution for the 2018–19 academic year and was tied with Middlebury College and Colgate University in the number one spot on the list of bachelor’s institutions.