Associate Professor Jason Bruner named new director of Desert Humanities Initiative at ASU

Portrait of ASU Associate Professor Jason Bruner.

Jason Bruner, associate professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and director of the Institute for Humanities Research's Desert Humanities Initiative.


Jason Bruner, an associate professor of religious studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS), has been appointed as the new director of the Desert Humanities Initiative at Arizona State University's Institute of Humanities Research (IHR). He will be replacing Ron Broglio, who has moved into the position of director of the IHR. In this new role, Bruner hopes to build on the interdisciplinary nature of Desert Humanities and develop a focus on the critical issue of water.

“We are thrilled to have Jason Bruner join the Institute as the director of the Desert Humanities Initiative,” said Broglio. “Jason brings a wealth of experience to the table with his transdisciplinary background in politics, culture and the arts, and we are excited to have him join the team!”

Bruner has contributed to collaborative research in the areas of comparative genocide and global health, and he recently began work on a documentary project on urban farmers in the Phoenix metro area. His scholarly books include “Living Salvation in the East African Revival in Uganda” (University of Rochester Press, 2018); “Imagining Persecution: Why American Christians Believe There is a Global War against Their Faith” (Rutgers University Press, 2021); “How to Study Global Christianity” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022); and “Global Visions of Violence: Agency and Persecution in World Christianity,” co-edited with David C. Kirkpatrick (Rutgers University Press, 2022).

He has also co-authored photo and art books, including “Sonoran Water” (2021, with David Blakeman), “Body of the Earth” (2022, with Keeley Bruner) and “Dreaming along the Laurel” (2022, with Keeley Bruner). His photography and creative work have also been published in “River Teeth,” “Slag Glass City” and the “Oxford American.” 

Bruner has used historical and ethnographic methods to explore Christianity’s complex entanglements, focusing geographically on East Africa and the United States. While he has trained as a historian of modern Christianity, ASU’s ethos of collaborative, engaged and transdisciplinary research has allowed him to explore topics and issues beyond his graduate training in colonial East African religious history. As a result, his research now expands to include comparative genocide and genocide pedagogy, religion and global health, as well as medical humanities.

The Institute for Humanities Research generates and supports transformative, transdisciplinary, collaborative and socially engaged humanities scholarship that contributes to the analysis and resolution of the world’s many challenges. IHR scholars explore such issues and concepts as sustainability, human origins, immigration and natural disasters, and utilize historical, philosophical and creative perspectives to achieve a deeper understanding of their causes, effects and cultural meanings. The IHR encourages transdisciplinary research that contributes to our initiatives and promotes outreach.

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