John Thibdeau

Ph.D. Candidate


Contemporary Islamic Studies (MENA), Music and Religious Practice, Cognition and Music Perception


B.S. Philosophy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2007)

M.A. Religious Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder (2012)

Ph.D. Candidate Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara


John is currently on a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship in Morocco for the 2017-2018 school year.  His project entitled "Sufism in Moroccan Public Life: Charity, Community, and Care" investigates the transformation of traditional Sufi practices of social and ethical care and their redeployment within and parallel to state and international forms of care.


From a cognitive perspective, my research looks at the role of religious disciplinary practices in cultivating affective and perceptual dispositions that enable and facilitate forms of religious experience, particularly in the context of varieties of Sufi practices. Using literature in embodied, enactive, and extended cognition, I am interested in exploring how the body shapes and is shaped by these experiences and collective practices. By studying Islamic rituals as disciplinary practices in this sense, it is possible to investigate not only how the moving body functions in religious experience and ritual, but also how diverse discourses about those practices have impacted local and transnational interpretations and manifestations of Sufism.


"Plasticity in the Contemporary Islamic Subject" in The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion (Indiana University Press) (2014)