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The Thomas Robbins Awards for Excellence in the Study of New Religious Movements was established in 2002 by the late Thomas Robbins to recognize outstanding articles published in Nova Religio. Robbins was among the founders of the field of new religious movement studies, and took a keen interest in mentoring and supporting younger scholars. Prizewinners are selected by board members of the Association for the Academic Study of New Religions from articles appearing in each volume of the journal. All published articles are automatically entered into the competition. The Robbins Awards are presented annually for the two best articles in the previous volume of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. Awards are announced in November at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion at the Nova Religio reception. Notifications of the awards are also published in the third issue of each volume, generally published in February.

The Robbins awards are administered by the Association for the Academic Study of New Religions, Inc. (AASNR).

Robbins Award Winners
Volume 6 (1st annual award): First Prize: David Cook, “Suicide Attacks or ‘Martyrdom Operations’ in Contemporary Jihad Literature.” Second Prize: David Ownby, “A History for Falun Gong: Popular Religion and the Chinese State since the Ming Dynasty.”

Volume 7 (2nd annual award): First Prize: Hugh Urban, “The Beast with Two Backs: Aleister Crowley, Sex Magic and the Exhaustion of Modernity.” Second Prize: Anne Hallum, “Ecotheology and Environmental Praxis in Guatemala.”

Volume 8 (3rd annual award): First Prize: Adrian Ivakhiv, “In Search of Deeper Identities: Neopaganism and ‘Native Faith’ in Contemporary Ukraine.” Second Prize: Martha Bradley, “Cultural Configurations of Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamous Communities.”

Volume 9 (4th annual award): First Prize: E. Burke Rochford, Jr., and Kendra Bailey, “Almost Heaven: Leadership, Decline and the Transformation of New Vrindaban.” Second Prize: Gary Shepherd and Gordon Shepherd, “Accommodation and Reformation in The Family/Children of God.”

Volume 10 (5th annual award): First Prize: Joylon Baraka Thomas, “Shûkyô Asobi and Miyazaki Hayao’s Anime.” Second Prize: Lynn P. Eldershaw, “Collective Identity and the Postcharismatic Fate of Shambhala International.”

Volume 11 (6th annual award): First prize (tied): Mark Sedgwick, “Jihad, Modernity, and Sectarianism.” First prize (tied): Peter Staudenmaier, “Race and Redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy.”

Volume 12 (7th annual award): First prize: Jon R. Stone, “Prophecy and Dissonance: A Reassessment of Research Testing the Festinger Theory.” Second prize: Moojan Momen, “Millennialism and Violence: The Attempted Assassination of Nasir al-Din Shah of Iran by the Babis in 1852.”

Volume 13 (8th annual award): First prize: Martin Lindhardt, “More Than Just Money: The Faith Gospel and Occult Economies in Contemporary Tanzania.” Second prize: Matthew Kustenbauder, “Believing in the Black Messiah: The Legio Maria Church in an African Christian Landscape.”

Volume 14 (9th annual award): First prize: Paul Brian Thomas, “Bible Lessons with Raël: On Religious Appropriation in ET-Inspired Religions.” Second prize: Benjamin E. Zeller, “Extraterrestrial Biblical Hermeneutics and the Making of Heaven's Gate.”

Volume 15 (10th annual award): First prize: Karline McLain, “Be United, Be Virtuous: Composite Culture and the Growth of Shirdi Sai Baba Devotion.” Second prize: Joseph P. Laycock, "'We Are Spirits of Another Sort': Ontological Rebellion and Religious Dimensions of the Otherkin Community."

Volume 16 (11th annual award): First prize: Jennifer Scheper Hughes, “The Niño Jesús Doctor: Novelty and Innovation in Mexican Religion.” Second prize: Kelly E. Hayes, “Intergalactic Space-Time Travelers: Envisioning Globalization in Brazil’s Valley of the Dawn.”

Volume 17 (12th annual award): First prize: Bernard Doherty, “Sensational Scientology! The Church of Scientology and Australian Tabloid Television.” Second prize: Benjamin Gatling, “The Guide after Rumi: Tradition and Its Foil in Tajik Sufism.”

Volume 18 (13th annual award): First prize: Christopher James Blythe, “‘Would to God, Brethren, I Could Tell You Who I Am!’ Nineteenth-century Mormonisms and the Apotheosis of Joseph Smith.” Second prize: Jaap Timmer, “Heirs to Biblical Prophecy: The All Peoples Prayer Assembly in Solomon Islands.”

Volume 19 (14th annual award): First prize: Charles Sarno and Helen Shoemaker, "Church, Sect, or Cult? The Curious Case of Harold Camping’s Family Radio and the May 21 Movement.” Second prize: Naomi Haynes, “‘Zambia Shall be Saved!’ Prosperity Gospel Politics in a Self-Proclaimed Christian Nation.”

Volume 20 (15th annual award): First prize: Edward E. Curtis IV, "Science and Technology in Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam: Astrophysical Disaster, Genetic Engineering, UFOs, White Apocalypse, and Black Resurrection." Second prize: Joanna Urbańczyk, "'What if it is actually true?' Vissarion's Followers from Eastern Europe and Their Path to the Last Testament Community in Siberia."

Volume 21 (16th annual award): First prize: Na Chen and Lizhu Fan, “Confucianism as an ‘Organized Religion’: An Ethnographic Study of the Confucian Congregation.” Second prize: Michael Driedger, “Thinking inside the Cages: Norman Cohn, Anabaptist Münster, and Polemically Inspired Assumptions about Apocalyptic Violence.”
Volume 22 (17th annual award): First Prize: Isabel M. Scarborough, “In Search of a New Indigeneity: Archaeological and Spiritual Heritage in Highland Bolivia.” Second prize: Heather Shearer, “‘Verbal Orders Don’t Go—Write It!’: Building and Maintaining the Promised Land.”
Volume 23 (18th annual award): First Prize: Damon T. Berry, “Voting in the Kingdom: Prophecy Voters, the New Apostolic Reformation, and Christian Support for Trump.” Second prize: Amy Hart, “‘All is Harmony in that Department’: Religious Expressions within the Fourierist Communal Experiments of the 1840s.”
Volume 24 (19th annual award): First Prize: Kira Ganga Kieffer, "Manifesting Millions: How Women's Spiritual Entrepreneurship Genders Capitalism.” Second prize: Rachel Waltner Goossen, "'Repent of the Sins of Homophobia': The Rise of Queer Mennonite Leaders."
Volume 25 (20th annual award): First Prize: Erica Baffelli, "Living Aum: Austerities, Emotion, and the Feeling Community of Former Aum Shinrikyo Members." Second prize: Chris Miller, "Sephora's Starter Witch Kit: Identity Construction through Social Media Protests of Commodified Religion."



In 2010 Helen Crovetto established the Award for Excellence in the Study of New Religious Movements with Ties to South Asia to encourage research and articles on new religions that originated in South Asia, as well as on new religious movements that were inspired in part or whole by religions from South Asia. Relevant articles published in a volume of Nova Religio are judged by four members of the editorial board with expertise in South Asian religions.

First Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 14

Scott Lowe, “Transcendental Meditation, Vedic Science, and Science”

Second Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 15

Andrea R. Jain, “The Dual-Ideal of the Ascetic and Healthy Body: The Jain Terapanth and Modern Yoga in the Context of Late Capitalism”

Third Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 17

Phillip Charles Lucas, “Non-traditional Modern Advaita Gurus in the West and Their Traditional Modern Advaita Critics”

Fourth Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 19

Peter Heehs, "Sri Aurobindo and his Ashram, 1910–2010: An Unfinished History"

Fifth Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 21

Nicole Karapanagiotis, "Of Digital Images and Digital Media: Approaches to Marketing in American ISKCON"

Sixth Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 22

Jeff Wilson, “Blasphemy as Bhavana: Anti-Christianity in a New Buddhist Movement”

Seventh Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 24

Irina Sadovina, "Legitimating New Religiosity in Contemporary Russia: 'Vedic Wisdom' Under Fire"

Eighth Award for an Article Appearing in Volume 25

Emily McKendry-Smith, "Public Household, Private Congregation: The Brahma Kumaris as a 'Public Private' Space for Nepali Women"

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