About me


Professor of Religious Studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. I teach a variety of courses and study primarily spirit-incorporation religions. My specific focus is Umbanda, Kardecist Spiritism, popular Catholicism and related traditions in Brazil, as well as theories and methodology in the study of religion\s. From 2005–2007 I was a Visiting Research Professor in the Programa de Estudos Pós-Graduados em Ciências da Religião at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP) and Professor Colaborador from 2014–2017. Since 2008, I have been Affiliate Professor with the Department of Religion, Concordia University, Montréal.

I was born and raised in the interior of British Columbia and spent a year in the small city of São João da Boa Vista, Brazil, as a Rotary exchange student during high school. There I learned Portuguese and first met H., who became my partner in 2004. During my undergraduate degree, I took two years off to work and travel. High points: São João again; Canoa Quebrada, Ceará; Moorea, French Polynesia; Greymouth, New Zealand; Sydney, Cairns, Albany & Eucla, Australia; Carcassonne, France; Narvik, Norway; and Turku, Finland.

After two years as a physics major, I completed a B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy (UBC, 1986; UofT, 1989) and then taught philosophy for four years at Capilano College in North Vancouver. I earned a Ph.D. in Religion at Concordia University in Montréal in 1999, supervised by Michel Despland. I started at MRU in 1999 (tenured 2002; Full Professor 2012). I have taught at the University of British Columbia, Concordia University, Augustana University College (Camrose), the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, St. Mary’s College (Calgary) and the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo.

Click in this sentence for pdfs of my short CV or long CV – ou para acessar o meu currículo lattes.

For relaxation, I read non-fiction and SF (hats off for the late, great Iain M. Banks), play jazz piano and hang out with H. and our three children.

Some personal favourites:

Academia: Émile Durkheim, Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse (1912); Michel Foucault, Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (1972); Roberto Da Matta, Carnavais, malandros e heróis: para uma sociologia do dilema brasileiro (1978); Pierre Bourdieu, Le Sens pratique (1980); Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus (1980); Michael T. Taussig, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (1980); Laura de Mello e Souza, O diabo e a Terra de Santa Cruz (1986); Robert Muchembled, L’invention de l’homme moderne. Sensibilités, mœurs et comportements collectifs sous l’Ancien Régime (1988); Tanya Luhrmann, Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England (1989); Margaret Trawick, Notes on Love in a Tamil Family (1990); Jacques Derrida, Donner le temps 1. La fausse monnaie (1991); Annette Weiner, Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving (1992); Maurice Bloch, Prey into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience (1992); Moishe Postone, Time, Labor and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory (1993); Bruno Latour, Petite réflexion sur le culte moderne des dieux faitiches (1996); Gustavo Benavides, “Magic, Religion, Materiality” (1997); Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art (1997); Alfred Gell, Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory (1998); Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, A inconstância da alma selvagem e outros ensaios de antropologia (2002); Stephan Palmié, Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition (2002); Denise Ferreira da Silva, Toward a Global Idea of Race (2007); Webb Keane, Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter (2007); Ann Taves, Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things (2009); Stephen S. Bush, Visions of Religion: Experience, Meaning, and Power (2014); Richard Swedborg, The Art of Social Theory (2014); Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States (2014)…

Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton (1890–1941), Bix Beiderbecke (1903–1931), Eddie Jefferson (1918–1979), Charles Mingus (1922–1979), Sonny Rollins (1930–), Andrew Hill (1931–2007), Marion Brown (1931–2010), Abdullah Ibrahim (1934–), Hermeto Pascoal (1936–), John Tchicai (1936–2012), Sonny Greenwich (1936–), Archie Shepp (1937–), Andrew Cyrille (1939–), Lester Bowie (1941–1999), Bobby Hutcherson (1941–2016), Evan Parker (1944–), Keith Jarrett (1945–), Bennie Wallace (1946–), Vinny Golia (1946–), Egberto Gismonti (1947–), Bobby Previte (1951–), Ray Anderson (1952–), Pat Metheny (1954–), Emily Remler (1957–1990), Thomas Chapin (1957–1998), Matthew Shipp (1960–), Gary Thomas (1961–), Dave Douglas (1963–), London Jazz Composers Orchestra (1972–), Ambrose Akinmusire (1982–)…

Peak reads: Laozi, Dao De Jing (c. 300 BCE); Julius Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul (c. 50 BCE); Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana (c. 230); Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1908 [1550]); Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote (Pt. 1) (1605); Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels (1735); Jane Austen, Emma (1815); James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824); George Borrow, The Bible in Spain (1843); José de Fonseca and Pedro Carolino, O Novo Guia da Conversação, em Portuguez e Inglez, em Duas Partes: The New Guide of the Conversation, in Portuguese and English in Two Parts (1855); Machado de Assis, Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas (1880); Lafcadio Hearn, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (1894); Max Beerbohm, Seven Men (1919); Chico Xavier (channeling the spirit André Luiz), Nosso Lar (1944); P.G. Wodehouse, Joy in the Morning (1946); Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland (1946); Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan (1946); John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1947); Giovannino Guareschi, Mondo piccolo Don Camillo (1948); Ronald A. Knox, Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion with Special Reference to the XVII and XVIII Centuries (1950); Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (1953); J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (1954–55); Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (1958); J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World (1962); Norman O. Brown, Love’s Body (1966); W.S. Merwin, The Lice (1967); Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea (1968); A. R. Luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist (1968); Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974–1977 (1978); Czeslaw Milosz, Bells in Winter (1978); Redmond O’Hanlon, Into the Heart of Borneo (1984); Joan Slonczewski, A Door into Ocean (1986); Bruce Chatwin, Songlines (1987); P.K. Page, Brazilian Journal (1988); Iain M. Banks, The Player of Games (1988); Sharon Olds, The Dead and the Living (1989); David Thomson, A Biographical Dictionary of Film (1975; 6th ed. 2014)…

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