Samuel Stella is a Doctoral student in Religions in North America. He is researching Catholic and Pentecostal missionary encounters in the Mexico/US borderlands in the 20th century with a particular focus on polemics of presence-making. To this end, he is interested in claims of immediacy, the materiality of presence, the discourses of idolatry and iconoclasm, and media theory. His work also seeks to understand how missionized communities, namely Mexicans in the borderlands prior to the intrusion of the US in the mid-19th century and Mexicans who traversed the border subsequently, negotiated these competing missionary bids for their affiliation, their own identities, and the techniques of presence-making that missionaries made central to these questions.
He is a fellow for the Material Economies of Religion in America cycle of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion.
Before beginning his Doctoral work at Columbia, Samuel completed his B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of Missouri, a M.A. in Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and an S.T.M. at Yale Divinity School where he also received the Institute of Sacred Music certificate.