Emma Rifai

Iowa City, Iowa · emma-rifai@uiowa.edu

Welcome to my page! I am a PhD candidate in the department of religious studies at The University of Iowa. My research and teaching interests include:

  • Protestantism and Secularism in America
  • Critical Theory and Religion
  • Religion, Food, and the Body
  • Gender, Religion, and Culture

My dissertation, “Embodied Covenants: Gender, Body Management, and American Secularism,” explores how women’s practices of weight management have become cultural techniques for producing and replicating America’s particular Protestant-informed secularism. This work provides a needed supplement to ongoing conversations in religious studies, cultural, studies, and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies by demonstrating how American weight loss culture is a gendered and bodily technique of the particular mix of Protestantism and secularism that defines public life in the United States and how the gendered body in contemporary dieting trends contributes to the creation and maintenance of broader political formations.

This site illustrates my teaching experiences, research activities, and service background. To download my CV, please click here.

Education

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

Ph.D., Religious Studies
Title: Embodied Covenants: Women, Weight Loss, and American Secularism
Advisors: Dr. Jenna Supp-Montgomerie and Dr. Kristy Nabhan-Warren
In Progress

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

M.A., Religious Studies
Comprehensive Exam Areas: American Religions; Critical Theory and Religion; and Religion, Food, and the Body
2018

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

The Graduate Certificate in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies
2017

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

The Graduate Certificate in College Teaching
2017

The University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

M.A., International Studies: Middle East Studies
Thesis: Fashioning Identities: New Relationships with Fashion and Modesty in Turkey
2011

Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, Minnesota

B.A., Major in Sociology of Religion
Thesis: Unveiling New Orientalism: An Exploration in Images
2009

Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota

B.M., Major in Instrumental Music; Minor in Religion
Thesis: The Body’s Iron Cage and Its Relationship to the Protestant Ethic
2008

Honors & Awards

2019:

President and Mrs. Eugene Gilmore Scholarship, The University of Iowa

2019:

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dissertation Writing Fellowship, The University of Iowa

2019:

Graduate College Post-Comprehensive Research Fellowship, The University of Iowa

2018:

Rev. Louis Penningroth Scholarship, The University of Iowa

2018:

Theta Alpha Kappa, The University of Iowa

2017:

Alice Marguerite Blough Award, The University of Iowa

2016, 2018:

Graduate Student Senate Travel Grant, The University of Iowa

2016, 2017, 2018:

Department of Religious Studies Travel Grant, The University of Iowa

2010-2011:

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, University of Washington

2009-2010:

Schwartz Fellowship, University of Washington

2009:

Alpha Kappa Delta, Minnesota State University Moorhead

2008:

Summa Cum Laude, Concordia College

2008:

Religion Honors, Concordia College

2006-2007:

Centennial Scholars Grant, Concordia College

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