UM-Dearborn scholars Claude Jacobs and William McNeece present 'World Religions in Metropolitan Detroit' at Malaysian conference

October 5, 2009

UM-Dearborn’s Pluralism Project features a collection of photographs of world religions in metropolitan Detroit, including the photo above of a Mandaean “Baptism ritual” called Al-Masbatta before a wedding. It was taken in Kensington Metro Park by William McNeece, lecturer in sociology at UM-Dearborn and director of photography for the campus’s Pluralism Project.

DEARBORN / Oct. 5, 2009---Two University of Michigan-Dearborn scholars--Claude Jacobs, associate professor of anthropology, and William McNeece, lecturer in sociology--will participate in an international conference on interreligious dialogue Oct. 6-11 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  

In addition to reading papers, Jacobs and McNeece will display photographs from UM-Dearborn's Pluralism Project and play samples of recordings from the Mardigian Library’s Digital Music Archive.

Jacobs, who serves as director of the Pluralism Project, and McNeece, who serves as director of photography for the project, are receiving support through the Fulbright Program for participating in the conference and mounting the exhibition, "World Religions in Metropolitan Detroit."

“This comes as a follow-up to a grant received by the campus’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society that brought Father Michael Chua, a Fulbright Interfaith Action Scholar from Malaysia, to the campus,” said Jacobs.  “Father Chua's work focuses on race, religion and politics in Malaysia.  Impressed by the work he saw in the center and by the relationship between the center and the community, Father Chua invited us to participate in the Kuala Lumpur conference as a part of his own Fulbright grant.”

The exhibition, "World Religions in Metropolitan Detroit," consist of 50 panels of photographs and text that represent the ongoing research of the Pluralism Project, showcasing the diversity of Metropolitan Detroit's religious landscape: Islamic mosques, Native American spirituality, Baha'i gathering places, Mandaean mandi, Sikh gurdwaras, Jewish synagogues, Christian churches, and Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples.  Other panels provide brief histories and descriptions of the religions. The recordings from the music archive are of hymns, chants and recitation that complement the Pluralism Project's photographs.  

“The exhibition and music archive were originally designed to encourage dialogue and foster a greater sense of community among the residents of southeastern Michigan,” Jacobs said.  “They will now serve that purpose in Malaysia.”

About University of Michigan-Dearborn
The University of Michigan-Dearborn is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout the 2009/2010 academic year. Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, UM-Dearborn has been distinguished by its commitment to providing excellent educational opportunities responsive to the needs of southeastern Michigan. The university has 8,700 students pursuing undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business, education, and public administration. With a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of interaction with business, government and industry in southeastern Michigan, and is committed to responding to the needs of the region in the future.


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