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Best-Selling Author, Professor; Expert on Interfaith, Interracial & Multicultural Experiences
Samira K. Mehta is the Director of Jewish Studies and an Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research and teaching focus on the intersections religion, culture, and gender, including the politics of family life and reproduction in the United States. Read More >
Her first book, Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) was a National Jewish book award finalist. Her newly released book of personal essays called The Racism of People Who Love You (Beacon Press, 2023) appeared on Oprah’s “Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2023,” where it was called “the epitome of a book meeting a moment.” Mehta’s current academic book project, God Bless the Pill: Sexuality and Contraception in Tri-Faith America examines the role of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant voices in competing moral logics of contraception, population control, and eugenics from the mid-twentieth century to the present and is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press.
She is also beginning a project for Princeton University Press called A Mixed Multitude: Jews of Color in the United States. Mehta is the primary investigator for a Henry Luce Foundation funded project called Jews of Color: Histories and Futures.
She is a member of the board of Feminist Studies in Religion, where she serves as the co-editor of the blog; co-chairs the steering committee of the North American Religions Program Unit at the American Academy of Religion; and is a Creative Editor at the journal American Religion.
She holds degrees from Swarthmore College. Harvard University, and Emory University. Read Less ^
Striking New Anti-Semitism
The Authenticity Test
Where Are You Really From
What does it mean to have multiple heritages? For Samira K. Mehta, whose mother is a White American and father a South Asian immigrant, it was always feeling a bit off-kilter. She didn’t sufficiently feel Indian enough in Indian spaces. And although she was culturally comfortable in her mom’s family, the world saw her as a person of color. Based on her newest book, The Racism of People Who Love You, and drawing on her academic background, this powerful and intellectually provocative talk shines a light on race and the challenges and misunderstandings mixed-race people face in family spaces and intimate relationships across their varying cultural backgrounds. Read More >
She shares her own experiences and tackles questions around: Read Less ^
In the face of growing antisemitism in contemporary life, Samira Mehta, a professor of Jewish Studies, traces the complicated history of antisemitism in the United States. She explores its European origins while focusing on how the United States in some ways imported those ideas and in other ways re-shaped them. Jews had, in many cases, more opportunities in the U.S. than they did in Europe. But that did not mean that antisemitism did not exist here—just that it looked different. This talk leaves audiences with a clearer understanding of where antisemitism comes from, how to identify it and some ideas on what to do about it. Read More >
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In this fascinating and informative talk, Samira K. Mehta, a scholar of religion, gender and sexuality and the Director of Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, discusses how Jews, Catholics and Protestants have responded to innovations in contraceptive technology. She explores the debates between the religious groups and discussions within the individual groups as they adapted to changing forms of contraception and expectations around both sexuality and parenthood. Especially relevant for these times, this talk also covers the history of religious activism to increase access to contraception, abortion, religious freedom and the culture wars around them. Read More >
For example, did you know: Read Less ^
We tend to think of religious organizations as opposing abortion. In this highly informative and fascinating talk, Samira K. Mehta, a scholar of religion, gender and sexuality and the Director of Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, discusses the broad array of attitudes towards abortion in the official teachings of a range of religions—including Protestant and Catholic forms of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism—as well as the diverse views held by members of those traditions. For instance, while some religions forbid abortion in all cases, others argue that there are times when it is not only allowed and appropriate but also even religiously obligated if it saves the life of the mother. Mehta then explores the implications of this diversity for debates about abortion and religious freedom. Read More >
You will learn: Read Less ^
In this fascinating and informative talk, Samira K. Mehta, a scholar of religion, gender and sexuality and the Director of Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, discusses the history of Jewish involvement in contraception, from the mid-twentieth century to the present and the battle to expand contraceptive access. Especially relevant for these times, this talk also covers reproductive justice and contemporary Jewish ethics, as well as abortion and Jewish law. Read More >
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The rate of interfaith marriage in the United States has risen so radically since the 1960s that it is difficult to recall how taboo the practice once was. How is this development understood and regarded by Americans generally, and what does it tell us about the nation's religious life? Drawing on ethnographic and historical sources, Samira K. Mehta provides a fascinating analysis of wives, husbands, children and their extended families in interfaith homes, how they navigate interfaith family life across generations and the social and cultural milieu surrounding mixed marriages among Jews, Catholics and Protestants. Read More >
She can tailor this talk to think historically or to help you brainstorm how your community might address issues of interfaith family life including: Read Less ^
"Dr. Samira Mehta formed a friendly rapport with the students, engaging them with images and lively anecdotes while also offering a clear and informative presentation of her work. Her talk on interfaith families was part of Marist College’s Autumn Lecture Series and inaugurated the first-year seminar Family Matters. My students described her talk as “very informative and interesting,” and “intriguing,” saying that it led them to “grow intellectually” and to discover an interest in a topic they had not expected to be interested in. Dr. Mehta has a unique combination of warmth, intelligence, and wit that leads her to engage and inform her audience with a memorable presentation."
"Dr. Mehta's presentation and conversation with students at Lafayette College was just right. A artful overlap of intellectual challenge and casual dialogue made for an event that helped those in attendance to consider varied and intersectional identities. Dr. Mehta's humor and engaging speaking style drew in her audience and allowed them to participate in a meaningful exchange of narrative and theory. I highly recommend her as an in-person speaker and worship leader."
The Racism of People Who Love You: Essays on Mixed Race Belonging
Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States
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