Assistant Professor of Religion Jorunn Buckley, the world’s leading scholar on the Mandaeans – an endangered Middle Eastern religious sect – talks about how she became involved in human rights work on their behalf.
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In response to a question asked in a comment on another post, I would also like to mention the fact that, at present, the University of Sydney in Australia appears to be the only place where it is a straightforward option to pursue doctoral work in certain aspects of Mandaean studies. That doesn’t mean that one cannot find a way to do so elsewhere, but it may mean making a special arrangement to bring in an outside supervisor, or getting an internal one to supervise research well beyond their own area of focus.
Of course, working on the Mandaic language is something that one can do at Rutgers, or Haifa, or Berlin. But if one wants to focus less on linguistics and translation, and more on ritual or history or comparative religion, then it will be less obvious where to turn – and although there are faculty at the institutions I just mentioned who could supervise such a dissertation without any problem, having a PhD on religion or history from a department of linguistics may seem less desirable.
I can only hope that the creation of the Society for Mandaean Studies will also lead to some attempt to rectify this state of affairs.