Why Study Religion? with Alumnus Seth Gaiters

Why Study Religion? is a video series in which the CSR asks its faculty, students, staff, and guests what is important to them about the academic study of religion and why more folks should consider pursuing it. Find out more about the Center and its initiatives HERE. To learn more about OSU’s Religious Studies Major, visit our website at THIS LINK.

Why does Dr. Seth Gaiters, a Comparative Studies alumnus, think it’s important to study religion? Shurouq Ibrahim, CSR’s Graduate Research Associate interviewed Dr. Gaiters to find out. Watch the video below for his response!

Shurouq: How would you answer the question: Why study religion?


Dr. Seth Gaiters:

I’ve been shaped and formed within a religious matrix, particularly within Black Christianity. So, even before I was born — there are stories of my mother singing hymns to me, while I’m in her womb, playing at the piano. I grew up in the thing. So then, when I realized what I’m within and the discourses that formed me and are swirling around me, I started to have questions. And so, I have a particular experience that is particularly unique; however, when I started to look more critically at the human experience in all our various particularities, one of the things I found was that religion is how people make sense of the ultimate significance of their lives. Religion — whatever that is — religions are the ways in which we orient ourselves in order to deal with shifting landscapes and suffering and pain and these ultimate questions about meaning in life. And I’ve found that people of the world…have these kinds of questions, have these kinds of struggles, and so the inversive is that I became intrigued about how this teaches me something about what it means to be human. And all of that complicated stuff that I just said, it matters to people. And if I’m concerned about people and the mattering of people, I want to understand what matters to them, and so religion helps me to get at those really deep questions.


Dr. Seth Emmanuel Gaiters received his Ph.D in Comparative Studies at OSU. He is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and Africana Studies at University of North Carolina, Wilmington. His research examines African American religious studies, with particular interest in the exploration of religion and race through Black progressive social movements and cultures in America. He is currently completing a book manuscript, tentatively titled, #BlackLivesMatter and Religion in the Street: A Revival of the Sacred in the Public Sphere. 

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