Ivan Strenski

Ivan StrenskiProfessor & Holstein Endowed Chair Holder
(951) 827-5986


Ivan Strenski is Holstein Family and Community Professor of Religious Studies. He has studied and traveled extensively in Europe, Mexico and South Asia, and has maintained close contact with scholars in those regions of the world. Although a US native, he took his BA from the University of Toronto and his PhD from the University of Birmingham (England), followed by post-doctoral study at Yale. As he sees it, part of the role of the Holstein Chair is to bridge cultural and intellectual gaps between the United States and these critical parts of the world. He has hosted conferences here at UCR on migration and religion in Europe and the United States, and is one of the founders of a research team made up of scholars from Southern California devoted to the subject of “LA: Religion in the World City.” Among his most recent research enterprises is the publication of articles on religion and political economy, exploring the religious roots of economic globalization and international law. A new course, “Political Religions and Religious Politics” will debut in 2006. Of related interest, his “Sacrifice, Gift and the Social Logic of Muslim ‘Human Bombers,’” (2004) was the lead article in a recent discussion of so-called ‘suicide bombers,’ published in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence. Recent innovations in teaching include a senior seminar on religious disputes and arguments as well as fieldwork-based course on the material dimension of religion, featuring Hawaiian traditional and post-missionary religion, “Tabu and Sacred in Time and Space.” This course also gave rise to Professor Strenski’s website on spontaneous religious shrines, www.shrines.ucr.edu

Former Institution

UC Santa Barbara


Ph.D. Religious Studies 1969, Birmingham University

B.A. Philosophy and Sociology 1966, University of Toronto


$10,000 grant for the design and implementation of a course on Religion and Science, funded in 1997 by the Templeton Foundation through The Center for Theology and The Natural Sciences.
1991 NEH Research Fellowship
1990, NEH Faculty Seminar
1988, NEH Travel To Collections Grants
1981, NEH Seminar
1978, NEH Fellowsip for Faculty in Residence

Research Area

History of the history of religions; Theory and Method in the Study of Religion; Durkheimian studies in religion; Religion and Science; Historiograpahy of the history of religions; Religion and Politics; Nineteenth Century French Jewry; Nineteenth Century French Christianity; History of Modern Buddhology in France; Buddhology/Indology


Selected Publications


Four Theories of Myth in Twentieth Century History Macmillan/University of Iowa Press, 1988), 228 pp. plus index.

Malinowski and the Work of Myth, edited with introduction (Princeton University Press, 1992), xi-xxxii plus 172 pp. plus index.

Religion in Relation: Method, Application and Moral Location (Macmillan/University of South Carolina Press, 1993), 244 pp. plus index.

Durkheim and the Jews of France (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1997), 202 pp. plus index.

Contesting Sacrifice: Religion, Nationalism and Social Thought (University of Chicago Press, 2002), 179 pp. plus notes and index.

Theology and the First Theory of Sacrifice (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2003), 243 pp. plus index.

Thinking about Religion (Blackwell, December 2005)

A Companion Reader to Thinking about Religion (Blackwell, December 2005)

The New Durkheim: Essays on Philosophy, Religious Identity and the Politics of Knowledge (Rutgers University Press, 2006)

Dumont on Religion: Difference, Comparison, Transgression (Equinox, UK), 2008.

Why Politics Can’t Be Freed From Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, USA), 2010.