Skip to main content

Cole Lectures

Cole Lecture

Vanderbilt University Divinity School announces the 2017 Cole Lectures

to be delivered by

Photo of Daisy Machado

Daisy L. Machado 

Professor of American Religious History

Union Theological Seminary


Thursday, October 26, 2017

7:00 pm


Friday, October 27, 2017

10:00 am

Of Marginal Identities and Heterotopic Saints: Lived Religion in the Borderlands 

The term “borderlands” has become commonplace and is now a multi-vocal term used to describe much more than the U.S. Latinx border reality. Today’s borderlands don’t have to be geographically located in the southwestern U.S. and the 21st century Latinx borderlands are understood as places where culture, race, identity, and religion intersect in complicated and even violent ways. These lectures will examine what lived religion looks like in these borderlands with a focus on how religion crosses borders, in this case, how marginal people bring with them beliefs in what some call “pseudo-saints” further complicating the practices of lived religion in marginal Latinx communities. One such “pseudo-saint” is Santa Muerte, an example of the “unorthodox religiosity” found in Mexico that has crossed the border into major U.S. cities and communities. We will look at the connections between marginality and belief as expressed in the veneration of this “heterotopic saint,” Santa Muerte.

About the Cole Lecturer

Rev. Dr. Daisy L. Machado serves as Professor of Church History. Her scholarship focuses specifically on United States Christianities. She holds a B.A., Brooklyn College; an M.S.W., Hunter College School of Social Work; a Master of Divinity, Union Theological Seminary, New York; and a Ph.D., University of Chicago. She is the first U.S. Latina ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1981 in the Northeast Region and has served inner city congregations in Brooklyn, Houston, and Fort Worth.

From 1996-1999 Dr. Machado served as the first Director of the Hispanic Theological Initiative a $3.4 million project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts to increase the presence of Latina/o faculty teaching in seminaries, schools of religion and religion departments around the country. From 2002-06 she served as the Chair of the Board of the Hispanic Summer Program an innovative masters level program currently supported by over 30 seminaries and schools of theology. Dr. Machado was also Luce Lecturer in Urban Ministry, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Lecturer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas, teaching a class on “Latina/o Spirituality and Medicine.” In July 2008 she was invited to serve as chaplain for Week 3 of the Summer Season at the Chatauqua Institute, making her the first Latina to serve as chaplain. Her daily sermons were preached to a gathering of over 600 participants every day. In spring 2010 she presented the keynote address for the Institute for Lived Theology held at the University of San Diego, California, titled “Borderlife and the Religious Imagination.”

Her publications include Borders and Margins: Hispanic Disciples in the Southwest, 1888-1942. New York: Oxford University Press; co-editor of A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology: Religion and Justice. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press; as well as numerous chapters in anthologies, encyclopedias, journals, and magazines. Her two latest publications are ‘The Southern U.S. Border: Immigration, the Historical Imagination, and Globalization’ in Rethinking Economic Globalization, Pamela K. Brubaker, Rebecca Todd Peters, Laura A. Stivers, eds. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006) and “Voices from Nepantla: Latinas in U.S. Religious History” in Feminist Intercultural Theology: Latina Explorations for a Just World, María Pilar Aquino and María José Rosado-Nunes, eds. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2007). She has also lectured in Mexico, Venezuela, and Germany, and has keynoted at many Disciples of Christ Regional as well as church-wide Disciples events.

A native of Cuba, she was raised in New York, lived in Texas for twenty years, and lived in Lexington, KY for two years, where she served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Lexington Theological Seminary. Dr. Machado has a great interest in the concept of “borderlands,” which is a multilayered word that not only refers to a specific geographic location, but for Latinas and other women of color also refers to a social, economic, political, and personal location within the dominant culture. She is also a strong advocate for a comprehensive reformation of current U.S. immigration laws, especially now that Arizona has enacted SB 1070.

Her current research and writing project focuses on the Prosperity Gospel in the U.S. Latino Protestant communities with a special look at the G-12 Movement, which has been imported from Colombia. Her course CH333, “Religious Movements from the Margins: A Look at the Prosperity Gospel in the U.S.,” introduces the student to the development of the prosperity gospel ideal in the U.S. religious landscape and how this ideal has played out historically in racial ethnic communities.

Dr. Machado is also involved the early stages of a longer-term research project with Dr. Evelyn Parker of Perkins School of Theology, Dallas, called “God Behind Bars,” which seeks to investigate and interpret the religious reality of Latina and African American women inmates. A first consultation was held at Perkins in May 2009 and a second at Union in August 2010. Each consultation gathered recently released female Latina inmates as well as prison chaplains, social workers, and selected directors of church-run prison ministries, to talk about religion and the religious life of incarcerated women of color. A second phase of the project will involve interviewing African American and Latina inmates who are incarcerated.

 Philanthropist Edmund W. Cole, president of Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad and treasurer of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust, endowed the annual Cole Lecture Series in 1892 "for the defense and advocacy of the Christian religion." Cole's gift provided for the first sustained lectureship in the history of Vanderbilt University.

The lectures have been delivered by such distinguished scholars as Harry Emerson Fosdick, George Buttrick, Rudolph Bultmann, H. Richard Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Walter Brueggemann, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, James Barr, Gustavo Gutierrez, James Cone, Edward Farley, Don Beisswenger, Gene TeSelle, David Buttrick, Jim Wallis, Lamin Sanneh, Mark Noll, Randall Balmer, James Lawson, John O'Malley, R. Scott Appleby and many others.

The Cole Lectures are free and open to the public.

Click here for a complete list of Cole Lectures from 1894-2015.