Noted scholar Marla F. Frederick has been named the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion and Culture at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, effective fall 2019. Frederick currently serves as professor of African and African American studies and the study of religion at Harvard University.
“Marla Frederick is among the top scholars of religion and culture in the academy today, and we at Candler are delighted to welcome her to the Emory faculty,” says Jan Love, Mary Lee Hardin Willard Dean of Candler.
“Candler is known for our commitment to producing first-rate scholarship that engages real-world issues, a commitment that will provide fertile ground for Professor Frederick’s work,” she says. “Her current research focus on the health, well-being, and strategic possibilities for black institutions makes Candler, Emory, and Atlanta an ideal academic home for her.”
A leading ethnographer, Frederick employs an interdisciplinary approach to examine the overlapping spheres of religion, race, gender, media, politics and economics. Her teaching interests encompass the anthropology of religion and the African American religious experience. Her ongoing research interests include the study of religion and media, religion and economics, and the sustainability of black institutions, such as black churches and historically black colleges and universities, in a ‘post-racial’ world.
Love says that bringing Frederick to Emory was a team effort, and she is “deeply grateful” for her partnership with the Office of the Provost in recruiting Frederick to Candler.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dwight A. McBride says he looks forward to Frederick’s contributions to the Emory community and beyond. “I am thrilled that Dr. Frederick has chosen Emory as her next academic home. Her decision to join Candler’s already excellent faculty affirms our commitment to cultivating an academic community of the highest order at Emory, moving us toward eminence.”
The move to Atlanta will be a homecoming of sorts for Frederick, who graduated from Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in English before earning a PhD in cultural anthropology at Duke University. From there, she served as an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati and a visiting professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center before joining the Department of African and African American Studies and the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University, where she also worked with the Divinity School.
Frederick is the author of four books and several articles. Her first book, Between Sundays: Black Women and Everyday Struggles of Faith (U. of California Press, 2003), is an ethnographic study of Baptist women’s social and political engagement in eastern North Carolina. In 2007 she co-authored Local Democracy Under Siege: Activism, Public Interests and Private Politics, which won the 2008 Best Book Award from the Society for the Anthropology of North America. Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global (Stanford University Press, 2016) explores the rise in African American and female televangelists and their influence outside the United States. Most recently, she co-authored Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press, 2016), which examines how black Christians, Muslims and Hebrew Israelites use media for the “redemption” of the race.
A frequent lecturer, Frederick has been an active convener, panelist, respondent or discussant at nearly 70 academic events across her career, and is a respected research collaborator. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Milton Fund, the Louisville Institute, and the Ford Foundation, among others.
In October 2018, she was elected vice president of the 8,000-member American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest association of scholars in religious studies and related fields. She will serve in that role in 2019-20, before moving to president-elect in 2020-21 and president in 2021-22.