Davíd Carrasco will join the Faculty of Divinity in September as the inaugural Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America. Carrasco, who has been professor of the history of religions at Princeton University since 1993, is a world-renowned scholar of Mesoamerican religions with an array of interests in the contemporary and historical study of religions, ranging from Aztec religion to contemporary issues in Latino/a studies.
“I’m impressed with [historian and religion scholar] Mircea Eliade’s insistence that scholars need to continually undergo ‘deprovincialization,'” Carrasco said. “I’m looking forward to expanding my own work in the study of religion at Harvard and hope to share a new awareness of Mesoamerican studies and the methodological power of the ‘borderlands’ to our discourse.”
“The appointment of Professor Davíd Carrasco to the faculty of the Divinity School and to the faculty of Arts and Sciences in the Anthropology Department brings to Harvard an exceptionally talented scholar of international reputation with broad interdisciplinary interests, an extraordinary record of publications, and a renowned teaching record,” said J. Bryan Hehir, chair of the Divinity School’s Executive Committee.
“Davíd’s teaching and research cut across the history of religion, Latin American religious traditions, religion and literature, and Latino studies,” Hehir added. “His role of editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Culture testifies to the respect accorded his scholarship. Students and faculty alike at the Divinity School (HDS) await his arrival in the fall, and the HDS community looks forward to working with the Anthropology Department to make the greatest use of Davíd’s teaching and scholarship at Harvard. We are deeply grateful to David Rockefeller whose gift made this professorship possible, and we are convinced we have a uniquely talented scholar to fill the Chair.”
Carrasco will also be a member of the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and will be affiliated with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. The Rudenstine Professorship, which is funded through the Rockefeller Center, was awarded to the Divinity School in conjunction with the Department of Anthropology after a University-wide request for proposals for its use.
Carrasco received a Ph.D. in the history of religions from the University of Chicago in 1977, under the direction of Mircea Eliade, Charles Long, Jonathan Z. Smith, and Paul Wheatley. His dissertation was later published as “Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire” by the University of Chicago Press in 1982. He is the author of three other books, most recently “City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization” (Beacon Press, 1999).
“I did my graduate work in a divinity school and am excited about the breadth and depth of Harvard’s Divinity School faculty and student interests,” he said. “The combination of profound interests in textual analysis, the nature of religious community, and comparative studies will enrich my teaching and research in many ways.”
Carrasco is the founder and director of the Mesoamerican Archive, which will move with him to Harvard. Before joining the Princeton faculty, he taught at the University of Colorado. He will be joined in Cambridge by his wife, Lugene.