Member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and thereby authorized to supervise theses and Associate Professor, Department of Classics and Religious Studies
2005 - PhD, Harvard University
1998 - MA, Harvard Divinity School
1993 - BA, Carleton University
Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 1176
Member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and thereby authorized to supervise theses.
Prof. Emma Anderson joined the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa in 2005, the same year she concluded her doctorate at Harvard University. Prof. Anderson teaches a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses, though her primary area of research involves native-Catholic religious interactions in North America since the seventeenth century.
Prof. Anderson’s most recent book is entitled The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, November 2013). The work explores the history of devotion to eight Jesuit missionaries slain by native people during the 1640s, a decade of unprecedented disease, dislocation and warfare across the colonial northeast. The book explores how these violent encounters were understood by all participants: plumbing the perspectives and motivations of the missionaries, their native slayers, and those native Catholics who, although they died alongside the “Jesuit martyrs,” have yet to receive comparable recognition as martyrs by the Catholic Church. It also traces the evolution of the martyrs’ saintly “afterlife” (their continual remembering and reinvention in the Catholic collective imagination) from the 1640s to the present, arguing that the cult of the martyrs was critical to the formation of a distinctively North American Catholic identity.
Anderson’s Death and Afterlife was named one of the top ten books in religion by the online journal Religion Dispatches. It was also selected by the Catholic Journal, America: The National Catholic Review as their Book Club selection February and March of 2014. In May 2014, Paul Harvey (Chair of the History Department at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and webmaster of the Religions and American History blog) conducted a wide-ranging and in-depth interview with Anderson about Death and Afterlife.
Anderson’s award-winning first book, Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert documented the fascinating and poignant true story of Pierre-Anthoine Pastedechouan, a seventeenth-century Innu man who, as a child, spent five years in a French monastery before being sent home as a missionary to his people. So changed was the adolescent by his experiences in France that, when told of the plan to return him to Canada, he reported asked: “But my Fathers, how can you want me send me back to those beasts who do not know God?” Robbed of both his traditional religious identity and critical survival skills by his French sojourn, Pastedechouan had difficulty winning the acceptance of his community upon his return. Suspended between two worlds, he ultimately became alienated from his native community and his missionary mentors, an alienation which would ultimately cost the young man his life.
Les Presses de l’Université Laval published a French-language translation of Betrayal of Faith in 2009 under the title of La Trahison de la foi: Le parcours tragique d’un converti autochtone à l’époque colonial.
Anderson is currently starting a brand new research project, entitledGod’s Grandmother: Tracing the Cult of Saint Anne. She plans to explore the history of the veneration of the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus, tracing her cult backwards through time to Anne’s genesis in the apocryphal literature of the second century. Saint Anne has long been wielded as a formidable hammer against heresy by the Catholic hierarchy, while simultaneously maintaining a persistent popularity among ordinary believers, who revere her as a patroness of childbirth, as a miracle-worker, and as the protector of sailors and those in peril on the seas. The patron saint of Quebec, Saint Anne has long been popular in Canada, as evidenced by the thousands of native and non-native pilgrims who still stream to the Sanctuaire de Sainte-Anne de Beaupre in Quebec and Lac Sainte-Anne in northern Alberta.
- SRS1191 Religion, Culture, and Identity in Canada
- SRS1591 La religion, la culture, et l’identité au Canada
- SRS2386 Missionaries, Medicine Men, and Methodists: Selected Topics in the History of Religion in Canada
- SRS2781 Christianisme, culture, et changement
- SRS2786 L’histoire de la religion au Canada
- SRS3110 Religion, Spirituality, and Culture in Contemporary Western Society
- SRS3139 Religious Encounters in the Colonial Americas
- SRS3140 Divine Images and Sacred Stories: Art, Religion, and Mythology
- SRS3141 Gender and Piety: Women and North American Christianity
- SRS4907 Dialogue, Imposition, and Resistance: Aboriginal-EuroCanadian Religious Interactions, 1600-Present
- SRS5918 The Sacred Gaze, Religion, Art, and Culture
- SRS6907 Selected Topics in Christianity: Miracles, Healings and Apparitions: Interpreting Extraordinary Religious Phenomena
- SRS6907 Selected Topics in Christianity: Aboriginal Peoples and Christianity
- SRS6907 Selected Topics in Christianity: Understanding Christian Martyrdom
- SRS6907 Selected Topics in Christianity : Understanding Christian Pilgrimage
The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013
La Trahison de la foi: le parcours tragique d’un converti autochtone à l’époque coloniale. Québec: Les Presses de L’Université Laval, 2009.
The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007.
« ‘Nous avons esté faits un spectacle aux yeux des anges et des hõmes’: le martyr, le sacrifice, et le retour des âmes en Amérique du Nord au 17ième siècle » in Galland, Caroline, and Van Ruymbeke, Bertrand eds. Colonisation et Confessionnalisation en Amérique du Nord : XVIIe-XVIIIe Siècles Paris : Les Presses de l’Université de Paris (forthcoming, 2014).
“ ‘My Spirit Found a Unity with this Holy Man:’ A Nun’s visions and the Negotiation of Pain and Power in Seventeenth Century New France,” in Plane, Ann-Marie and Tuttle, Leslie, eds. Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions in the Early Modern Atlantic World. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press 2013, p. 185-204
“Perceiving Presence: Marian Apparitions and Healings in Nineteenth-Century Europe,” in Sarah Coakley, ed., Spiritual Healing. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans ( forthcoming, 2014).
“Blood, Fire, and ‘Baptism’: Three Perspectives on the Death of Jean de Brébeuf, Seventeenth-Century Jesuit ‘Martyr,’” in Joel Martin and Mark Nicholas, eds., Native Americans, Christianity, and the Reshaping of the American Religious Landscape, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press 2010 p. 125-158.
« Les représentants naïfs: l’exhibition, le baptême, et l’éducation des ‘petites sauvages’ en France au dix-septième siècle, » in Hélène Cazes, ed.Histoires d’Enfants. Québec: Presses de L’Université Laval, 2008.
“‘They Should be Ashamed to Eat, Who are Reluctant to Work:’ The Jesuit Agriculturalist Ethic on the Frontiers of Eighteenth-Century New Spain,” in C. Pullapilly et al, eds. Christianity and Native Cultures: Perspectives from Different Regions of the World. Notre Dame, IN: Cross Cultural Press, p. 306-351, 2004.
“Fatal Ambivalence: The Religious Journey of Pierre-AnthoinePastedechouan, Seventeenth-Century Montagnais Amerindian,” in C. Pullapilly et al, eds. Christianity and Native Cultures: Perspectives from Different Regions of the World. Notre Dame, IN: Cross Cultural Press, p. 352-383, 2004.
« ‘Pleut à Dieu que je fusse mort en France.’ Le Destin Tragique de Pierre-Anthoine Pastedechouan, Autochtone du Canada en Anjou, »Archives d’Anjou, 2007.
“Between Conversion and Apostasy: The Religious Journey of Pierre-Anthoine Pastedechouan,”Anthropologica Vol. 49: p. 17-34, 2007.
“My Misfortune is That I Have Not a Mind Strong Enough to Remain Firm in My Determination:” The Fatal Ambivalence of a Seventeenth-Century Aboriginal Convert,” (Part II of a two-part series) in ARC: The Journal of the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University Vol. 34, p. 107-130, 2006.
“Do Not Send Me Back to Those Beasts Who Do Not Know God’: The Religious and Cultural Transformation of an Innu Child in Seventeenth-Century France,” (Part I of a two-part series) ARC: The Journal of the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University Vol. 32: p. 73-96, 2004.
“Changing Devotional Paradigms and Their Impact upon Nineteenth-Century Marian Apparitions: The Case of La Salette,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 52 (1998): 85-122.
Awards and achievements
2014 Awarded the Franklin Research Grant and the Phillips Fund Grant for Native American Research. Both grants are administered by the American Philosophical Society
2012 Young Researcher of the Year Award
Faculty of Arts,
University of Ottawa
The Young Researcher of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievement in research among junior faculty at the University.
2012 Finalist, Capital Educators’ Awards, Ottawa Network for Education
The Capital Educators’ Awards recognize excellence in teaching in the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Anderson was one of nine University of Ottawa professors to be selected as a Finalist from among 214 University of Ottawa nominees, and 560 overall nominees across the National Capital Region.
2008 American Academy of Religion's Best First book in the History of Religions prize – Book Award
2008 Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize for the Best Book in French Colonial History
French Colonial Historical Society
2008 CBC Radio’s “Tapestry” Show
Anderson discussed her book, which recounts the fascinating true story of Pierre-Anthoine Pastedechouan, a seventeenth-century Innu boy sent to France for baptism, with host Mary Heinz.
2007 Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Aid to Scholarly Publications Program (Grant given to support translation of Anderson’s first book, Betrayal of Faith, into French)
2007-2010 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant Standard Research Grant