Prof. Dr. Monica Miller

Fellow von Oktober 2016 bis September 2017

Monica R. Miller, PhD is Associate Professor of Religion & Africana Studies and Director of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Lehigh University. Miller holds research interests in religion/irreligion in youth cultures and popular culture, changing contours of identity and difference, new black religious movements, and theory and method in the study of religion, with emphases on new black religious movements. A widely sought after international speaker, Miller is the author of numerous books and scholarly contributions spanning topics such as social difference in/and religion, transatlantic and diasporic blackness, religion and hip hop culture, among others. Miller is currently at work on her next book project entitled New Black Godz: Towards a Theory of Black Religion as Identity, under contract with Bloomsbury Academic. Among a host of articles and book chapters, Miller is the author of Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge 2012), Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain (Bloomsbury 2015) with Anthony B. Pinn and rapper Bernard "Bun B" Freeman, in addition to Claiming Identity in the Study of Religion (Equinox 2015), and The Hip Hop and Religion Reader with Anthony B. Pinn (Routledge 2015). Miller is currently at work on her next book project New Black Godz: Towards a Theory of Black Religion as Identity and serves among a host of national and international and advisory and editorial board capacities spanning academic journals, presses and organizations such as The American Academy of Religion, The Institute for Humanist Studies, The Marginalia Review of Books, The Journal of Hip Hop Studies, The Centre for Research in Race and Rights (UK), among numerous others.

Projekt am fiph

Outlaw Humanists: Aporetic Flows and the Transatlantic Technologies of ‘New Black Godz’

Miller is currently compiling textual and ethnographic research for the completion of her second monograph, New Black Godz: Towards a Theory of Black Religion as Identity,under contract with Bloomsbury Academic. Written at the crossroads of proliferating black exceptionalism and preduring social illegibility, New Black Godz explores the promise and peril of a sociological “god-status” that is born from reworked social and rhetorical techniques of identity making, breaking, and travel across the Atlantic divide. Such movement is explored through Miller’s theoretical conception of aporetic flow—human efforts at transmuting problem-status into possibility at sites of pronounced impasses—an undertaking that resists tidy and neat conceptualizations and classifications of identity and religion. With a point of departure in identity and operational acts of social difference, New Black Godz charts a transatlantic theory of religion that takes serious and makes use of theological and philosophical language to deconstruct longstanding assumptions inherent in antagonisms such as sacred/profane, religious/secular, and insider/outsider, further challenging normative conceptions of humanism, religion, categories of social difference, and western epistemology. Research will include theoretical and methodological attention to the underexplored philosophical, embodied, and performative dimensions of “outlaw” humanisms among social beliefs and demographics typically ignored or denied access to “humanist” labels. Moving beyond the “properly” religious/philosophical subject, these “outlaw” humanisms trouble assumptions about what (or who) is humanism/humanist, complicating (and moving beyond) treatments of humanism that are measured by/relegated to their distance/proximity to and from orthodox/heterodox ideologies, dogmas, institutions, and social beliefs. Recasting religion as identity, Miller will make use of the substantial philosophical and theological library at the Institute and use Hannover as “home base” for ethnographic work that explores (1) the religious/philosophical commitments/sensibilities of racial/ethnic ‘Others’ in Germany, black Germans in particular and (2) the cultural cosmology, rhetoric, and practices among the “religiously indifferent” of Erfurt, Germany. Through attention to these textual and ethnographic areas, Miller will complete the manuscript and also begin organizing a new project that explores the transatlantic intersections among the impact of globalized popular cultures on race/ethnicity and emergent philosophies of survival and meaning from the ethnographic research conducted while in residence.