Pamela Klassen, FRSC

Professor, Chair
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 318, 170 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5R 2M8

Campus

Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • Anthropology of religion, secularism, and mediation (including digital humanities)
  • Christianity, colonialism, and land in North America & Turtle Island
  • Religion, ritual, and public memory (including museum studies)
  • Religion, spirituality, and gender

Biography

Pamela Klassen is Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion, cross-appointed to Anthropology, at the University of Toronto. She teaches graduate and undergraduate students in areas of the anthropology and history of Christianity and colonialism in North America, religion in the public sphere, and religion, law, media, and gender, and welcomes inquiries from prospective students in these and related areas. The author of many books and articles, her most recent solo publications are The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indigenous Land (U of Chicago Press, 2018) and “Contraception and the Coming of Secularism: Reconsidering Reproductive Freedom as Religious Freedom” in Secular Bodies, Affects, and Emotions, eds. Monique Scheer, Birgitte Schepelern Johansen, and Nadia Fadil, (London: Bloomsbury, 2019, pp. 17-30). Her newest joint publications include The Public Work of Christmas: Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies, co-edited with Monique Scheer, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019) and  Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State (U of Chicago Press, 2018), co-authored with Paul Christopher Johnson and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan. Her previous book, Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity (University of California Press, 2011) won a 2012 American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence. She currently holds the Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation in support of a five-year collaborative project entitled “Religion and Public Memory in Multicultural Societies,” undertaken together with Prof. Dr. Monique Scheer of the University of Tübingen. For more information, along with a wide range of digital scholarship, please see her website.

 

Teaching

In the 2021 winter term, Pamela Klassen is co-teaching a new course called “Plagues & Peoples: From Divine Intervention to Public Health” (JAR301S) together with medical anthropologist Prof. Janelle Taylor. Focusing on both historical and contemporary examples, such as the Spanish flu and COVID-19, this course will give students the tools to understand how cultural institutions, religious worldviews, and public health epidemiology shape living and dying during a pandemic. In other words, the course will give students the chance to reflect critically on what it has been like to live through the COVID-19 pandemic. We will use perspectives from medical anthropology and religious studies to analyze the importance of the cultural, religious, and scientific narratives that arise when people confront plagues. The course is open to all students in arts and science who have completed 4.0 FCE.

 

Selected Publications

Books

2019
The Public Work of Christmas: Difference and Belonging in Multicultural Societies, co-edited with Monique Scheer. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

2018
The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indigenous Land, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kiinawin Kawindomowin Story Nations, an ongoing collaborative digital storytelling project in consultation with the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre of the Rainy River First Nations, launched June 15, 2018 at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung.

Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State, co-authored with Paul C. Johnson and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, TRIOS Series, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2011

Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity.University of California Press.

2010

After Pluralism: Reimagining Religious Engagement. Co-edited with Courtney Bender.Columbia University Press.

2009

Women and Religion: Critical Concepts. Co-edited with Shari Golberg and Danielle Lefebvre. 4 vols. Routledge.

2001

Blessed Events: Religion and Home Birth in America. Princeton University Press.

1994

Going by the Moon and the Stars: Stories of Two Russian Mennonite Women. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

 

Recent Articles

2020

“North America, Turtle Island, and the Study of Religion”, co-written with Jennifer Graber. Numen 67(2-3): 313-325.

2019

“Contraception and the Coming of Secularism: Reconsidering Reproductive Freedom as Religious Freedom” in Secular Bodies, Affects, and Emotions, eds. Monique Scheer, Birgitte Schepelern Johansen, and Nadia Fadil, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 17-30.

“Back to the Land and Waters: Futures for the Study of Religions” Religion, 50(1): 90-96.

2016
“Narrating Religion through Museums” Narrating Religion, ed. Sarah Iles Johnston, MacMillan Interdisciplinary Handbook, pp. 333-352.

“Medicine” The Oxford Handbook for the Study of Religion, ed. Steven Engler and Michael Stausberg, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 416-429.

“God Keep our Land: The Legal Ritual of the McKenna-McBride Commission, 1913-1916” Religion and the Exercise of Public Authority, edited by Benjamin Berger and Richard Moon, London: Hart Publishing, pp. 79-93.

2015

Co-authored with Matthew King.“Suppressing the Mad Elephant: Missionaries, Lamas, and the Mediation of Sacred Historiographies in the Tibetan Borderlands.”History and Anthropology24 (4): 1-24.

“Fantasies of Sovereignty: Civic Secularism in Canada.”Critical Studies in Religion3(1): 41-56.

 

Recent Awards and Honours

2019

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

2018

Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

2015-2020

Anneliese Maier Research Award, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

2015

Northrop Frye Award of Excellence for the integration of Research and Teaching, University of Toronto Alumni Association

2014-2017

Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Anthropology of Modern Religion, Ludwig-Uhland-Institut of Historical and Cultural Anthropology, University of Tübingen

2012

Winner of the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in Analytical-Descriptive Studies for Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity

 

Academic Service

Vice-Dean, Undergraduate & International, Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto
2016-2020.