Sociology Faculty Directory

Gustavo Morello

Associate Professor

Department

Sociology

Biography

I took grades in Philosophy, Universidad del Salvador 1991; Theology, Universidad del Salvador 2007; Master in Social Science, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba 2001; Ph.D. in Social Sciences, Universidad de Buenos Aires 2011.

I am a sociologist of religion, with a particular focus on the interaction between religion and modernity in Latin America. I look for new ways to explore and understand religious practices beyond established categories and theoretical frameworks. In sociology there are two dominant theoretical approaches to the relationship between religion and modernity: secularization (basically stating that the more modern societies are necessarily less religious) and religious markets (modernity gives rise to religious diversity and more religion).

In spite of their differences, and the many nuances within each of them, these approaches are both based on the assumption that the historical particularities of North Atlantic societies (either Europe or the United States) are universally applicable to the rest of the world. I argue that this overlooks key dynamics of Latin American religiosity. I show that when we look beyond the categories sociology has been using to define religion, we see that modernity has definitively changed religion in Latin America-but that religion is nevertheless alive and present in everyday life. If we pay attention to everyday practices, we discover that the interaction of religion and modernity in Latin America differs from the one that developed in the North Atlantic world. You can learn more about this project here

My overall research agenda focuses on practices; looking at religion as an ongoing human relation with a supra-human power. I pay attention to the concrete historical and cultural context, to the practitioner’s material and embodied engagement, exploring how a religious persons relates with divinity. Religious things happen when there is a relationship. Exploring religion from the perspective of the practices, I am not necessarily talking about a reality that conforms to churches’ mandates, nor to the variables sociologists have been using to measure religious practice. Instead, I study what people do to connect with the supra-human.

In my classes, I have three main pedagogical principles. First, I expect students to develop critical and analytical skills. Second, I think students bear the burden of the work. I understand my role as a teacher and mentor as a guiding one in their journey, providing engaging readings, posing questions, challenging assumptions, encouraging their quest for social justice. But they are the ones who have to do the job. Third, ongoing evaluation and adaptation of the syllabus; every semester I ask for feedback from students, TAs, and my own perception and adapt the classes according to that assessment.