Department of Religious Studies
Department of History
University of California, Santa Barbara
Over time, the focus of Ann Taves’ (Ph.D. University of Chicago) research has shifted from answering historical questions about religion to using historical and ethnographic sources to explore experiences, people, objects, spaces, and events that people perceive and set apart as special and the practices and alternate conceptions of reality that people often associate to them. She is particularly interested in the processes whereby people—individually and collectively—come to perceive some things as extra-ordinary (or not); adjudicate such claims within and between groups, traditions, and cultures; and mobilize them in the construction of alternate realities spatially and virtually via texts, networks, movements, and organizations. In exploring these processes, Taves works comparatively to generate the detailed descriptive analyses favored by scholars of religion and to explore the naturalistic explanations developed by researchers in the social and natural sciences.