Jennifer Reid
Professor of Religion

Ph.D., University of Ottawa, Canada
M.A., University of Ottawa, Canada
B.A., University College of Cape Breton, Canada

Prestigious Distinction — Jennifer Reid Named a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow

Jennifer Reid was selected as a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. This prestigious distinction is a lifetime appointment that recognizes mid-career scholars on the basis of impressive achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishments, according to Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation.


A widely-respected academic and member of the UMF faculty since 1995, Jennifer was named to the 2015 Guggenheim class of fellows based on her project, Re-Thinking Religion Indigenous Land Rights in a Secular Age.

According to her research, indigenous peoples the world over are engaged in struggles for legal recognition of land claims. These have had limited success in the courts as the courts generally refuse to recognize indigenous religious values as comparable to secular property rights. The task of intellectually clarifying indigenous land rights before the courts has fallen to anthropologists and historians due in part to a general social reluctance to bring religion to bear on secular law.

For a number of years, Reid has been studying the legal foundations of property-based law in ex-British colonies that have repudiated other longstanding (and generally religious) indigenous claims. During the course of her fellowship, she will be speaking with indigenous lawyers and land rights activists in the United States, Canada, and Australia to establish a clearer picture of how religion scholars can have a more vital public voice in the legal adjudication of indigenous land claims.

In the Classroom: Engaging Students — Setting High Academic Expectations

Jennifer Reid engages her students in the classroom by strongly encouraging them be active participants rather than passive listeners and note-takers. She strives to help them realize they know more than they think they know. By doing this, Jennifer helps put her students in control of the process and in control of the knowledge — something that gives them more self confidence and encourages even further interest in the classroom discussions.

Professional Contacts — Bringing World Renowned Experts to Farmington

Jennifer’s professional standing in her field allows her to bring to Farmington two or three eminent academics to speak to her classes and the wider UMF community each semester. These renowned experts from some of the leading research institutions in the U.S. and around the world come to Farmington to discuss in depth various topics her classes are covering.

For instance, a noted historian of religion from Syracuse University who is involved with the United Nations spoke about Native American land rights issues, and another from Tokyo has spoken at UMF on religion and violence in modern Japan.

During these presentations, students have the opportunity to interact and talk candidly with some of the brightest and most respected minds in the field, an opportunity rarely found at undergraduate colleges.

Outside the Classroom: Innovation and Excitement — Putting Theory into Practice

Jennifer Reid said her students conduct a lot of independent research projects outside of the classroom. In addition, the UMF Religion and Philosophy Club (a student organization) regularly attends and participates in academic conferences, hosts national and international guest speakers, and holds public forums for student presentations. The club provides a platform for further intellectual development and opportunities beyond UMF.

A True Academic — Areas of Special Interest

Jennifer’s academic interests are in colonial and post-colonial religion, exploring the ways in which colonial history has created altered and new religious forms — particularly colonial North America and the impact on indigenous peoples.

Respected in the Field — Noteworthy Accomplishments

Jennifer received a Maine Humanities Council / National Endowment for the Arts grant. She is currently a researcher with the Niwano Peace Foundation’s New Archê & World Peace Project, Tokyo.

She has published extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan on a wide range of religious and other topics. Jennifer’s most recent book, In Search of Kluskap: A Journey into Mi’kmaw Myth was published in 2013. Her Religion, Writing, and Colonial Resistance, was published in 2011 and her Louis Riel and the Creation of Modern Canada was published in 2008 and again in 2011, first in the U.S. and then in Canada.

She also wrote Worse Than Beasts, an Anatomy of Melancholy and the Literature of Travel in 17th and 18th Century England; Myth, Symbol, and Colonial Encounter: British and Mi’kmaq in Arcadia, 1700-1867, and edited Religion and the Imagination of Matter, and Religion and Global Culture: New Terrain in the Study of Religion and the Work of Charles H. Long.

Jennifer’s articles have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Religion, The Journal for the Study of Religion, Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, Papers of the Canadian Society of Church History, The Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, and many others.

She is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, including the annual meeting of the World Congress of the International Association of the History of Religions (Tokyo), the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (Philadelphia, San Antonio, Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago), the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Church History (Quebec), to name just a few.

Outside of Academia — Personal Interests and Activities

Outside of her busy academic and international scholar role, Jennifer is passionate about cooking — particularly Southeast Asian cuisine. She also enjoys reading (mostly fiction), writes essays, and travels extensively. Jennifer lives in Farmington.

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