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Faculty Profiles

Mikal Austin Radford

Mikal Austin Radford


Ph.D (ABD) McMaster University

Masters, Hons. B.A. Wilfrid Laurier University

Academic Biography

Mikal Austin Radford, after several years as a reporter/photographer for a community newspaper north of Toronto and 10 years at the Toronto Star Newspaper, returned to the Religion and Culture Department of Wilfrid Laurier University in 1991 to complete both his Honours B.A. and Masters Degrees. As an undergraduate student his primary focus of study was the relationship between South Asian religious, philosophical, and mystical traditions. His Honours thesis, titled "Sallekhana: The Ritual of Holy Death in the Archaic and Contemporary Jaina Community", was a study of the philosophical foundations underlying the Jain ritual of fasting to death. Switching gears for his Master's degree, Mikal's field of study broadened to include mystical traditions within First Nation cultures (with a particular focus on the Ghost Dance), and the Gnostic traditions and their connection with the Thomas Christians of India. The title of his Masters thesis was "Origins of the Thomite Tradition: The Acts of Thomas and the Genesis of Indo-Oriental Christianity." Mikal joined the Ph.D. program in Religious Studies at McMaster University in 1999. His Ph.D. dissertation, titled "Did the Tirthankaras Cross These Oceans? Boundaries, Frontiers and the Negotiation of Transnational Identity Within the Jaina Community of Toronto,” is an examination of this community and their particular concerns over transnational religious identity formation. Mikal’s current interests include media and religion, religion as political instrument, and early cultures from the Black Sea region to the Indus Valley. 

Mikal's Publications include:

Chapters in Books:

“Jainism” in World Religions:Canadian Perspectives – Eastern Traditions (Vol.1). Doris R. Jakobsh (ed.). Toronto: Nelson Education, 2013.

 "Religion as Meaning and the Canadian Context" in Our Society: Human Diversity in Canada. Paul Angelini (ed.). Toronto: Thomson Nelson Publishing, 2006.

"(Re) Creating Transnational Religious Identity Within the Jaina Community of Toronto" in South Asians in Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions. Knut Jacobsen and Pratap Kumar (eds.). Leiden: Brill Publishing, 2004.


"Role Models of Jaina Citizenship in the Western World," Jain Spirit: Advancing Jainism into the Future, vol. 5 (September-November, 2000) 

"Jaina Consecration Ceremony in Toronto: Ascendancy of a Community Vision," Jinamanjari, vol.15, no.1 (April, 1997). 

"Sallekhana: The Jaina Ritual of Fasting to Death," Jinamanjari, vol.11, no.1 (April, 1994).

Conference Papers:

Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (CSSR Annual Meeting) Wilfrid Laurier University/Waterloo University, May 26-28, 2012 What is Canadian about World Religions.

American Academy of Religion (Annual Meeting - International), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November November 19-22, 2005. Philosophical and Religious Dialogue as Part of Identity Formation within Diasporic Communities.

American Academy of Religion (Annual Meeting - International), Atlanta, Georgia, November November 22-25, 2003. From Students in India to Experts Back Home: Ethical Issues in Scholarly Interactions with Diaspora Jain Communities.

Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (CSSR Annual Meeting), University of Toronto, May 25-28, 2002. The Soul is My Self: Issues of Identity and Selfhood within the Jaina Diaspora of North America.

Canadian Anthropological Society (CASCA Annual Meeting), University of Calgary, May 3-7, 2000. Did the Tirthankaras Cross These Oceans? Transnational Dialogue and Religious Identity within the Jaina Community of North America.

American Academy of Religion (Annual Meeting - International), Orlando, Florida, November 22-25, 1998. Teaching Philosophy and Religion in a Canadian Community College.

American Academy of Religion (Eastern International Region), D'Youville College, April 4-5, 1997. Dancing Maidens, Kings, and Snakes: The Art of Social Re-Ordering within the Acts of Thomas.

American Academy of Religion (Eastern International Region), Le Moyne College, April 12-14, 1996. Thomite Christians: The South Asian Legacy