April 24, 2021: ‘Mormon’: The Politics of Naming New Religious Movements — Annual Mormon Studies Conference
In 2018, Russell M. Nelson, the new president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged the church he leads to abandon the word “Mormon” as a shorthand adjective for describing everything from the Church itself to its members to its famous Tabernacle Choir. Presenters Jana Riess, Melissa Inouye, Spencer Greenhalgh, Kristine Haglund, Joseph Laycock, and David Howlett consider the reasons that drive small religious groups in the United States as they choose the names they are known by, how successful they might be in doing so, and how cultural considerations shape those choices.

February 5, 2021: Eric Eliason, Carol Edison and Lynne McNeill, “This is the Plate: A Conversation about Food and Religion in Utah”
Join us for a discussion on the culture and history of a wide variety of Utah foods including green Jell-O, fry sauce, and (believe it or not ) alcohol! The book’s editors share their discoveries on the unique relationship between food and identity among Utah’s various religious, ethnic, and subregional groups, and explore some reasons for the state’s particularly vibrant self-awareness of its foodways.

November 6, 2020: Elisa Pulido, “The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista, Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961”
Elisa Pulido discusses her recent spiritual biography of Margarito Bautista, a Mexican cultural nationalist, Mormon convert, and Utopian Founder. Bautista left behind thousands of pages of his own writing—more than any other indigenous convert to date. Pulido discusses the major contributions of his extant works. She demonstrates that Bautista’s efforts to publish and distribute his thought throughout the U.S.-Mexico borderlands was an authorial activism meant to offer a new spiritual identity to Mexicans and encourage them to prepare for a prophetic destiny of leadership on the world stage. David Hayes-Bautista contextualizes Margarito’s life and thought through a presentation of his research on the centuries-long intellectual tradition of Atlauhtla, Margarito’s birthplace, and surrounding areas on Mexico’s Central Plateau. His discussion includes ancient documents, intellectual contributions, and major figures of the area, including Chilmalpahin, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Antonio Alzate, and Emiliano Zapata.

Below is the audio of David Hayes-Bautista’s lecture, which is not included in the above video.

 

October 9, 2020: Taylor Petrey, “Essential Gender in Latter-day Saint Thought”
In recent decades, scholars and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have emphasized a teaching that “gender is an essential characteristic” of human identity as an explanation for the church’s political and ecclesiastical actions on a range of issues from same-sex relationships to gender roles and transgender policies. This presentation explores the history of these teachings and sets them in context of broader theories of gender and sexual difference.