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A Panel Discussion on “Oriental Orthodox Christianity and the Problem of Racism” on October 15 at 7 PM

September 25, 2020

The Zohrab Information Center is excited to announce its next event, to be held via Zoom on Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 7 PM Eastern Time. Kicking off the 2020 Fall Series exploring Oriental Orthodox Christianity and Armenian Responses to Racism, the event is a Panel Discussion on Oriental Orthodox Christianity and the Problem of Racism. You can register for the Zoom Meeting here:
https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIqf-ygqzorE9INKxLoIcG3kiUvz24xGUAu

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Note that you need to make sure you have selected the October 15 date for the registration.

Racism, and particularly anti-Black racism, pervade American society, as the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and national debate around the murder made clear. As immigrants and people of color in the United States, Oriental Orthodox Christians have their own complicated historical and contemporary entanglements with racial identification and racism. This Panel Discussion highlights different Oriental Orthodox perspectives on race and racialization. It also seeks to think collectively about the possibility of a shared Oriental Orthodox Christian response to the problem of racism. The panel is composed of members of and experts on three of the different Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches.

Each panelist will discuss issues around race and racism relevant to their church and area of expertise, with particular attention to the question of race and racism in America. The goal of the panel is to push the conversation within in each church and to help each other consider ways to confront problems within our communities. Ultimately, the conversation will explore the possibility of a shared Oriental Orthodox Christian response to racism. We ask what such a response would look like, given the different historical experiences of each of our churches.

Each of the panelists brings expertise and experience with a different Oriental Orthodox Christian community in the United States:

Dcn. Henok Elias, of the Ge’ez Rite, alongside his liturgical and homiletical duties, is an elementary school educator, translator, editor, and writer with a MA in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University School of Law. He has a peer-reviewed article on ‘race’ in The Journal of the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds, a podcast (Tewahido Bible Study) on semitic scriptural interpretation, and a podcast (Philosophy of Art and Science) that highlights multi-ethnic converts to our Afroasiatic Orthodox Christian Communion.

Candace Lukasik is a postdoctoral research associate at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork between Egypt and the United States, her first book project explores the transnational circulation of political subjectivities and religious practices through the lens of Coptic Orthodox Christian emigration. For this project, she has received a Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal Fellowship for 2020-2021, funded by the Social Science Research Council and the Fetzer Institute. In addition to academic scholarship, she has written opinion editorials and short-form essays for Anthropology News, Public Orthodoxy, The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, and The Coptic Canadian History Project (CCHP), and is a curator for New Directions in the Anthropology of Christianity. Between 2019-2022, she will be a participant in Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center project on Orthodoxy and Human Rights, funded by the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs.

Dn. Dr. Christopher Sheklian is the Director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, a research library and presentation space attached to the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in New York and also serves as an adjunct professor at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. He received a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Masters and then his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago with his dissertation, “Theology and the Community: The Armenian Minority, Tradition, and Secularism in Turkey.” He was ordained a deacon of the Armenian Church by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian in his home parish of Yettem, CA in 2006. Prior to his appointment as the Director of Zohrab Information Center, Dr. Sheklian was a Manoogian Post-Doctoral Fellow in Armenian Studies at the University of Michigan. He has taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, and Wesleyan University. Dr. Sheklian specializes in the Anthropology of religion and secularism, studying the role of liturgy and law in the lives of religious minorities and has published on these topics.

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