Associate Professor of Anthropology
Chair, Department of Anthropology
Kevin Pittle received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Florida State University in the Fall of 2005. He is Program Director for the undergraduate Anthropology program at Biola University and is the coordinator and advisor for the minor in Social Justice, Human Rights and Conflict Transformation. His research is generally interpretivist and perspectival in orientation, focusing around the intersection of language and culture, with theoretical and methodological emphases centering on cultural knowledge (i.e., cognitive anthropology, schema theory and cultural models), discourses of identity and alterity, cross-cultural approaches to ontology and epistemology, the anthropology of consciousness and extraordinary experience, and the anthropology of religion and spirituality.
Over the last 13 years, he has conducted ethnographic research on emergent Post-Judeo-Christian spiritualities in North America, focusing on the renaissance of contemporary Neo-Kabbalah and the ways it interrogates the boundaries between science, religion and philosophy; on Messianic Jews (and Gentiles) and their ambivalent relationships with mainstream Jewry and evangelicalism, and most recently on Earth-Based Jews and Jewish (Neo-) Shamans attempting to decolonize and re-enchant Jewish spirituality.
The importance of his research has been recognized in scholarly circles and has been supported by multiple awards and grants, including the 2005 Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany (for his early work on Middle Eastern herbal traditions), two Faculty Research Grants (in 2006–07 and 2008–09) for researching the discourses surrounding and pervading Messianic Judaism’s ambivalent relationships with mainstream Judaism and Evangelicalism, and two Faculty Research Grants (in 2013–14 and 2015–16) which have privileged him to study the traditional lore of the Ba’alei Shem (Jewish mystical healers and wisdom keepers) under the private tutelage of some of its leading living folk practitioners. He currently has plans for a four-book series on contemporary engagements with the Jewish mystical tradition based on this continuing research.
Pittle has formally studied a number of languages, including Arabic (Modern Standard, Tunisian Colloquial and Levantine Colloquial), Egyptian (Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic and Sahidic Coptic), French, Greek (Koine), Hebrew, Latin, Mayan (Chol and Hieroglyphic), and a smattering of Southeastern American Indian languages. He has informally studied Aramaic, Etruscan, Greek Linear-B, Moabite, Old Irish (Ogham), Old Norse (Runic), Phoenician and Ugaritic (Canaanite).