Bowdoin College Professor Emerita to Have Her Work Archived at the Library of Congress

Jorunn Buckley, professor emerita of religion at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, is having her entire academic archive preserved at the Library of Congress. Dr. Buckley, who retired from the Bowdoin faculty in 2016 after 17 years, is arguably the world’s premier expert on a little-known religious sect called the Mandaeans, who originated around two thousand years ago in the Palestine-Israel region and moved eastwards due to persecution. Mandaeism is the last surviving Gnostic religion from antiquity. Its followers revere John the Baptist and cleansing rituals are central to Mandaean worshipping practices.

In addition to her scholarly research and writing, in the 1990s Dr. Buckley also began to be involved in human rights advocacy work for the Mandaean community, which now only numbers around 55,000 globally and have faced political persecution in Iraq and Iraq in recent decades. Professor Buckley has worked with immigration lawyers and human rights organizations as an expert witness on behalf of exiled Mandaeans seeking asylum. Due to this persecution, the vast majority of Mandaeans no longer live in their traditional homelands and many of them are now scattered across the world, with sizeable communities in Australia, Sweden, and parts of the United States.

“It’s an enormous honor to have my life’s work recognized in this way,” says Dr. Buckley, who is currently in the process of shipping boxes and boxes of material down to Washington D.C., including manuscripts, texts, rare books, letters, and artifacts.

Dr. Buckley is the author of six books including The Great Stem of Souls: Reconstructing Mandaean History (Gorglas, 2010) and The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People (Oxford University Press, 2002), which explores the lives and religious practices of contemporary Mandaeans, both in Iran and Iraq, and in diaspora.

Professor Buckley is a native of Norway. She came to the United States to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.

Filed Under: Women's Studies


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