Introducing Prof. Jaime Wright
Jaime Wright’s interest in religion began with his parents becoming born-again Christians when he was in elementary school. This culture shock eventually propelled him into the Religious Studies program at San Jose State University (SJSU) where he learned about the religions of the world, some peculiarities of religion in American, and also how various subcultural practices could be understood as functioning in religious-like ways.
After graduating SJSU, he spent a few years away from academia exploring creative writing, publishing zines, and travelling. In 2002, he decided to return to school and pursue an MA in Religion and Society at the Graduate Theological Union where he focused on American subcultural practices of body modification (e.g., tattooing, body piercing, scarification, and flesh-hook suspension) and how they could be understood through the lens of religion (as complementary to religious practices and as religious practices themselves that provided ritual, a sense of identity, and community). After completing this, he became fascinated with how religious beliefs and practices shape the way we use our bodies.
Pursuing this interest, Jaime went onto examine how our bodies may also influence the way we use religion. In 2007, he began his doctoral degree at the Graduate Theological Union in Ethics and Social Theory. In his dissertation, he researched how women with breast cancer used religion and spirituality to cope with breast cancer and find meaning in their experiences of this serious and sometimes terminal bodily disease (completed 2016). This research indicated that our bodily states can influence the manner in which we use religion and also reinforced the general importance of understanding religion and spirituality as highly contextual.
Before starting at Santa Clara University in the Religious Studies Department as an Academic Year Adjunct Lecturer (2017), Jaime taught sociology courses for four years in the Behavioral Sciences Department at Santa Rosa Junior College. In addition, to pursuing his interests in researching contemporary uses of religion in relation to health and illness, he enjoys working with students in religious studies and social theoretical courses. He believes that these courses offer analytical tools, diverse cultural perspectives, and ethical insights that students can utilize within their personal lives and also across a spectrum of career choices.