Michele Marie Desmarais, PhD
- Metis (Canada)
- Associate Professor of Religious Studies
- ASH 205M
Dr. Michele Marie Desmarais was raised and educated in Vancouver, British Columbia on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. She is a Canadian scholar and poet of Métis, Dakota and European ancestry. Dr. Desmarais is an Associate Professor in Religious Studies and a teaching faculty member in the Native American Studies program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). She was the founding director of the interdisciplinary Medical Humanities minor at UNO and is on the executive committee of the newly established Leonard and Shirley Goldstein Center for Human Rights. Dr. Desmarais is also co-founder and Director of SPHRS (Spirituality, Public Health, Religious Studies), which is a community engagement initiative of the Religious Studies program. SPHRS is located in 122B of the UNO Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center. Dr. Desmarais is a past editor of the Journal of Religion and Film. Her book, Changing Minds, was selected as one of the foundational texts in the field of science and religion by the International Society for Science and Religion.
Dr. Desmarais has a BA in Psychology from Simon Fraser University, an MA in Religious Studies from the University of British Columbia, and a PhD in Asian Studies also from U.B.C. Dr. Desmarais' specialties include: medical humanities; Indigenous fine arts; mindfulness; spirituality and wellness; Indian thought; yoga psychology; religion and the brain; and religion and film. At UNO she teaches courses on Hinduism, Buddhism, Eastern Religions, Spirituality and Wellness, Compassion, Religion and the Brain, Sanskrit, Introduction to World Religions, and Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) fine arts and spiritualities in Canada.
Dr. Desmarais’ poetry has been published in literary journals, including: American Indian Culture and Research Journal; International Studies in Literature and the Environment (Climate Change issue); Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought; Room Magazine (In Translation issue); and the Indigenous Perspectives issue of The Malahat Review. A film of her reciting her poem Sweetgrass is part of the University of Nebraska State Museum’s First Peoples of the Plains exhibit and her poetry is also included in the Native American Artists Resource Collection of the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona).
Selected Scholarly Publications
- Saṃskṛta-Sādhutā ‘Goodness of Sanskrit’: Studies in Honour of Professor Ashok Aklujkar, ChikafumiWatanabe, Michele Marie Desmarais, and Yoshichika Honda, (editors). New Delhi: DK Printworld (P) Ltd. (2012)
- Changing Minds: Mind, Consciousness and Identity in Patañjali's Yoga-sūtra and Cognitive Neuroscience (author). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass (2008).
Selected Articles and Book Chapters
- “Is Slumdog Millionaire a Retelling of the Ramayana?” with William Blizek in The Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 19 #2 (2015).
- “Close Relations: Pandits, Pedagogy and Plasticity” in Saṃskṛta-Sādhutā ‘Goodness of Sanskrit’: Studies in Honour of Professor Ashok Aklujkar, ChikafumiWatanabe, Michele Marie Desmarais, and Yoshichika Honda (editors), New Delhi: DK Printworld (P) Ltd. (2012).
- “The Power of Film/The Power of Religion,” with William L. Blizek in Proceedings of the Avanca International Conference Cinema: Art, Technology, Communication, July 2010.
- “Buddhism and Film” in Continuum Companion to Religion and Film. William L. Blizek, ed. London: Continuum (June 2009), p. 148-156.
- “Hinduism and Film” with Birud Sindhav in Continuum Companion to Religion and Film. William L. Blizek, ed. London: Continuum (June 2009), p. 157-166.
- “Karma and Film” in Continuum Companion to Religion and Film. William L. Blizek, ed. London: Continuum (June 2009), pp.281-289.
- “What Are We Teaching When We Teach Religion and Film,” with Dr. William L. Blizek, in Teaching Religion & Film, Greg Watkins, ed. New York: Oxford University Press (August 2008).
Selected Awards and Grants
- National Council on Undergraduate Research, Certificate in Recognition of Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research (Washington, DC) (2017).
- Canada Council for the Arts, Aboriginal Writer’s Grant (2012)
- UNO College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Development Fellowship (Spring 2010)
- UNO’s College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award (2008)
- Honorary Inductee, Alpha Sigma Lambda (2006) (for work with non-traditional students)
- Canadian National Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship (Philosophy)