Professor Orsi’s various projects have explored religion, immigration, and migration; urban religion; Catholic women’s devotional practices; the cult of saints and human beings relationships with supernatural figures (and how we may study this); and most recently, the religious/spiritual consequences of the sexual abuse of children by priests. He has received grants in support of his work from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and, for the current project, from the Social Science Research Council.
Over the years Professor Orsi has also elaborated a number of theoretical approaches to the study of religious history, among them the notions of “lived religion,” urban religion, and more recently the idea of “abundant history.” This latter uses the analysis of the Catholic imaginary in the modern period—when Catholic practices and understandings were commonly denigrated in accounts of “religion” as belonging to a past the West had grown out of as well as templates to study and evaluate other religions—to explore the limits and possibilities of historical inquiry into religion.
Currently Professor Orsi is researching a book on the religious dimensions of the abuse of children and young people by priests in 20th century American Catholicism and the consequences of the abuse in survivors’ religious/spiritual lives (to be published by Harvard University Press.) He is one of the principal investigators (with Kathleen Sprows Cummings and Timothy Matovina of Notre Dame) in an international project on the “lived history of the Second Vatican Council.” A more extended discussion of Professor Orsi’s current work may be found on the current research page.