By July 17, 2018
This post is part of our ongoing series on the George Q. Cannon diaries, which are now published on the Church Historian’s Press website.
The George Q. Cannon journals provide insights into Mormon conceptions of race in the nineteenth century. Cannon had a long tenure in the Quorum of the Twelve, as a counselor to different church presidents, and extensive involvement in writing and publishing. Because of this participation in church leadership and publication, Cannon’s writings show how church leaders conceived of race as the church changed and expanded during the nineteenth century. I will give a few examples here of instances in his journal where he discusses racial ideologies, but there are many more.
By June 18, 2018
Hokulani K. Aikau’s book, A Chosen People, A Promised Land, published in 2012, is an important work on Mormonism in the Pacific, addressing the colonial legacy of the church and its racial ideologies. Back in 2013 here on this blog, Aikau’s work was listed as an important work in Mormon history and the history of indigenous peoples. But the Juvenile Instructor blog has never had a full review of Aikau’s book published. In order to fix this error, this post includes a portion of my review of Aikau’s book that was just published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Mormon History.
By May 1, 2018
In the past few weeks, a shrine to the NBA’s Utah Jazz has appeared next to Ken Sanders Books in Salt Lake City. The shrine features a confluence of religious figurines (none Mormon as of this writing), flowers, photos, Jazz memorabilia, and candles. J Stuart and Cristina Rosetti thought it would be an ideal opportunity to discuss lived religion and material religion within Mormonism. The authors acknowledge that the shrine isn’t uniquely Mormon, but we feel that there are some aspects of Mormonism that shine through when examined closely.
JS: I have jokingly referred to praying to the basketball gods for favor in NBA games and playoff series. I loved seeing that someone had actually created a shrine, seemingly to the basketball gods, on behalf of the Utah Jazz. After my immediate basketball nerdery ebbed, my religious studies nerdery surfaced and I thought about how peculiar it was for there to be a shrine to anything in a place as Mormon-heavy as Salt Lake City. Of course there are fewer Mormons in Salt Lake County than throughout Utah, but it still struck me as particularly Mormon. Mormonism is both a lived and a material religion that believes in the “presence” of supernatural beings directing events and people on the earth. Robert Orsi calls these forces “the gods,” as he explains in History and Presence, “Presence is real, but not necessarily good, not necessarily bad, and it is rarely either good or bad, as these words are understood in ordinary social discourse.” Presence is simply taken as for granted for many Mormons. Mormonism began with the apparition of heavenly beings and individual Mormons have continued to report their “presence” to the current day. This shrine is another way for Mormons to acknowledge “presence” in a way that doesn’t contradict what many of their leaders saying about the uselessness of praying for sports teams. What do you think, Cristina?
By April 5, 2018
Below is Max Perry Mueller’s response to JI’s roundtable on his book, Race and the Making of the Mormon People.
Thanks to the JI crew, especially to Jessica Nelson, Ryan T, and J Stuart for their thoughtful comments on my book, Race and the Making of the Mormon People. It?s a great honor and an immense pleasure to interact with readers who have read one?s work so deeply and carefully.
Each of the roundtable?s comments/critiques focuses on one or both of two of the major interventions of my book: the first is to theorize ?whiteness? and ?race? more broadly; the second is to theorize the ?archive.? And my response?or, better put, self-critique?is to remind us (me!) not to think too literally about race or the archive. That is, the book tries (intentionally) to have it both ways: that race and the archive are ?real??as in literal, tangible things and/or experiences?as well as ?metaphors??as in literary signifiers of signified (imagined/constructed) things.
By March 28, 2018
You can read the first and second posts in this roundtable HERE and HERE.
Max Mueller should be commended for his analysis of race and the creation of the Latter-day Saint “archive” in Race and the Making of the Mormon People. Mueller takes the Book of Mormon seriously and considers texts that aren’t considered within broader methodological arguments about the LDS Church’s creation of race in the nineteenth century. I think that Mueller’s attention to patriarchal blessings is worth highlighting (which I do below); I also think that his use of literary methodologies opens new avenues for research in Mormon history. Mueller’s book is the first monograph to engage Mormonism’s race-making project(s) through the interdisciplinary lenses of religious studies. Race and the Making of the Mormon People will occupy a central place in the part conversation surrounding Mormonism and race for the foreseeable future.
Mueller analyzes several patriarchal blessings in Race and the Making of the Mormon People, particularly an African American woman named Jane Manning James’ two blessings.[i] He rightly tries to get into James’ mind as well as the mind of the patriarchs that bestowed those blessings on her head. While Mueller’s book is not a study of “lived religion,” he presents plausible readings of the blessing for both James and suggests how these documents helped place James squarely within the “Mormon archive.” He persuasively argues that James may have seen herself as an heir of what Mueller calls “white universalism,” meaning that everyone’s default pigmentation is white and that she had claim to the highest liturgical practices of Mormonism. Mueller’s innovative inclusion of patriarchal blessings should be taken up by others. I’m not aware of any other sources that offer as much potential for simultaneously presenting the leadership’s and the laity’s understanding of race from the same document.
By March 27, 2018
I’m happy to confirm reports that readers of Max Mueller’s recent book, Race and the Making of the Mormon People, which we are discussing this week, will find a rich, multilayered, and searching account of theologies and important narratives of race in early Mormonism. This is a serious book, and a critical contribution to a growing body of scholarship on the functions of race in the Mormon tradition. As Mueller claims, it is one of the first to consider questions of race and Mormonism from the inside out. This means that it nicely complements recent scholarship like that of Paul Reeve and others, which has generally taken the opposite tack. Perhaps the most innovative element of the book, in my view, is how it brings consideration of both “red” (Native American) and “black” (African-American) constructions of race together. In some ways, the early Mormon logic of race in relation to these two groups seems incongruous, but Mueller works hard to show there are important aspects of continuity, as well. He has categorically synthesized early Mormon conceptions of race as well as anyone might expect to do.
By March 26, 2018
This is the first of three posts on Max Perry Mueller’s Race and the Making of the Mormon People. Today’s post comes from Jessica Nelson, who recently completed an MS in history at Utah State University. She is interested in race and Mormonism in the twentieth century and loves riding her stationary bike.
Max Perry Mueller?s book Race and the Making of the Mormon People actively and deliberately engages with the Book of Mormon. This is significant, and I hope that other scholars will follow suit and take the words of the Book of Mormon?along with its 19th century context and what it represents to Mormonism?seriously in their work. Mueller rightly demonstrates that the Book of Mormon?s stories of racial lineages are critically important to understanding racial constructs in early Mormonism.
Readers familiar with the Book of Mormon will be able to recognize that Mueller carefully read Mormonism?s foundational text. After finishing Mueller?s conclusion, however, I am left wondering how useful textual analysis and literary criticisms of the Book of Mormon are to fully understand race in nineteenth-century Mormonism. How central are Mormon scriptures to Mormon conceptions of racial otherness and whiteness? Can the Nephites as ?white? people within the Book of Mormon be problematized any more than the simplistic way that Mueller references them? Did nineteenth-century white Mormons even think of the Nephites as ?white? like they were? The Book of Mormon is inherently problematic as primary source material, but evaluating Mueller?s claims begs further examination of scripture and the characters in it.
By March 11, 2018
Join the Juvenile Instructor and the Mormon Women’s History Initiative this Thursday, March 15, for a lecture by Dr. Amanda Hendrix-Komoto.
Historians have written extensively about the Mormon adoption of Native children. In this talk, Amanda Hendrix-Komoto places these adoptions in the wider context of intimate relationships between Native Americans and white settlers. Fur traders like Richard Leigh (also known as Beaver Dick) become full-fledged characters who influenced Mormon communities. It also explores the lives of the Native women and children who were incorporated into white Mormon and non-Mormon families.
Thursday, March 15, 7 PM – 8:15 PM
Room 1150 of the Marriott Library, University of Utah
By March 6, 2018
This is the second in a series of posts on selecting a finishing exams and finding a doctoral dissertation topic. All of our five participants have participated in Mormon Studies in the past, but not all of them chose to pursue a Mormon Studies topic for their dissertation. If you’d like to contribute a post that addresses this topic in future, please send me an email at joseph [dot] stuart [at] utah [dot] e dee ewe.
We are grateful for this post from Alexandria Griffin, a Ph.D. Candidate in Religious Studies at Arizona State University.
I did my undergrad at the University of Utah in Anthropology. I just kind of wound up there; I had originally started out in linguistics and become disinterested when I realized it didn?t just mean I could take as many language classes as I wanted. The Anthropology department would take most of my credit hours as ?allied classes? so off I went, still taking as many language classes as I wanted. This included Arabic, which I ended up doing a study abroad for in the summer of 2010 in Alexandria, Egypt. While I was there I became very interested in the study of Islam and religion more broadly, and on my return took Islamic studies classes and began thinking about pursuing an MA in Islamic Studies.
Simultaneously, though, I began reengaging with my Mormon upbringing and checking out all of the university?s Mormon studies books and devouring them. I started wondering if there was a place I could get a degree studying Mormonism. I was surprised when I did some googling to see that there was a program that met that description in my mother?s hometown of Claremont, California.
I entered Claremont thinking I would study Mormon feminist theology, but gradually ended up weaving in my former interests in Islamic studies and writing a comparative study of women?s experiences of garments with anthropological literature on women?s experiences of hijab. I really enjoyed this project and am glad that I pursued it. However, as I looked at pursuing a PhD, I felt that staying in Mormon studies was no longer a good choice for me. As a woman married to another woman, many job avenues open to others in Mormon studies (like working for CES or at the Church History Library) are closed to me, and staying in Mormon studies seemed like making an already terrible job market worse for myself. Additionally, I felt that my attempts to discuss queer Mormon issues (in particular, looking at how organizations like Affirmation used history to bolster their arguments) were inevitably ignored in favor of analyzing my own identity as a lesbian somewhat-former-Mormon, which I found tiring.
By March 4, 2018
We are pleased to post this review from Craig Yugawa, a medical student at Washington University in St. Louis. You can follow Craig on Twitter.
Darron T. Smith?s When Race, Religion and Sport Collide: Black Athletes at BYU and Beyond is a skillful recounting of the tenuous status black college athletes face in the larger American context, especially those at ?Predominantly White Institutions? (PWIs). While covering athletics in America more broadly, Smith uses BYU?s unique institutional and racial history as a lens to focus on the societal and cultural barriers commonly faced by black athletes who repeatedly face ?objectification of their bodies, [while at the same time] leav[ing] the ivy tower battered, bruised, and empty-handed? (148). This timely work is a compelling narrative which weaves together easily understood personal anecdotes; high level social science, medical, and humanities research; and theological summary to flesh out the complicated relationship between the LDS church and the athletes of color at its flagship university.