Hillary Kaell is assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Concordia University. She holds a PhD from Harvard University (2011) and was a resident research fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion in 2014. Grounded in cultural anthropology and history, her research on North American Christianity engages theories of religion and materiality to ask how objects and places factor into emic understandings of modernity. These themes are central in her first book, Walking Where Jesus Walked: American Christians and Holy Land Pilgrimage (NYU Press, 2014), as well as her work on wayside crosses in Quebec. Both projects explore how objects transmit a sense of presence that links humans to unseen others, including the dead and the Divine. These sensory experiences complicate secular modes of ownership, consumption, and memory transmission, as well as religious understandings of shared space and ecumenism. Hillary’s current SSHRC and FQRSC-funded project explores a complementary theme, charting the fraught process through which conceptual, imagined ‘global space’ is concretized in bodily experiences and the exchange of material things
Hilary has published aspects of her work in journals including Religion, Journal of Material Culture, Religion and Society: Advances in Research, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She is currently co-editing a special volume of the Journal of Contemporary Religion on ritual efficacy . She also co-hosts a biweekly podcast called New Books in Religion.