Greg Johnson is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado, where he is also affiliated with the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, the Center of the American West, and the Ethnic Studies Department. Johnson studies living indigenous traditions in moments of contemporary legal struggle, focusing on what such fraught contexts reveal about religion-making and re-making. Burial protection, repatriation, and sacred land disputes have been the primary focus of Johnson’s research, which has for the past fifteen years been focused primary on Hawai`i. Johnson also has a longstanding interest in federal Indian law, particularly in cases where religious objects—a mountain, a peyote button, or an eagle feather, for example—and stories about them (including claims to possession) are at stake. Recently, Johnson has become involved in a multi-year project sponsored by the Research Council of Norway that explores global forms of indigeneity. Johnson is fascinated by the challenge of this comparative work and is eager to facilitate conversations between Americanists and scholars working on material economies of religion in other contexts.
Johnson is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Religion in the Moment: Tradition, Performance, and Law in Contemporary Hawai`i. Along with Siv Ellen Kraft, he is editing the Brill Handbook of Indigenous Religions (in process). Other publications include Sacred Claims: Repatriation and Living Tradition (University of Virginia Press, 2007); "Indigenous Sacred Objects after NAGPRA," for The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Material Religion, edited by Manuel Vásquez and Vasudha Narayanan (forthcoming); "Reflections on the Politics of Religious Freedom, with Attention to Hawaii," in Politics of Religious Freedom, edited by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter Danchin (University of Chicago Press, 2015); "Bone Deep Indigeneity: Theorizing Hawaiian Care for the State and Its Broken Apparatuses," in Performing Indigeneity, edited by Laura Graham and H. Glenn Penny (University of Nebraska Press, 2014); "Apache Revelation: Making Religion in the Legal Sphere," in Secularism and Religion-Making, edited by Markus Dressler and Arvind Mandair (Oxford University Press 2011); "Courting Culture: Unexpected Relationships between Religion and Law in Contemporary Hawai`i," in After Secular Law, edited by Winnifred Sullivan, Mateo Taussig, and Robert Yelle (Stanford University Press 2011); and "Social Lives of the Dead: Contestations and Continuities in Native Hawaiian Repatriation Contexts," in Culture and Belonging: Symbolic Landscapes and Contesting Identity in Divided Societies, edited by Marc Ross (The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).
Johnson is currently on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion and serves as the Academy’s Program Unit Chair. Johnson has also served on the Executive Committee of the North American Association for the Study of Religion. He is a member of the editorial advisory committee for History of Religions.