Metadata Analyst Profile on Adam Paradis
by Todd Aiello/
May 08, 2023
A fundamental strength of Atla’s research tools is the applied expertise of Atla’s team of metadata editors and analysts. Atla’s metadata analysts and editors synthesize research from a wide range of academic resources and make decisions about the most relevant subjects to include in the records in our databases to support discovery by our community of researchers and students.
The staff has graduate degrees in theology, religious studies, history, anthropology, philosophy, literature and languages, and the social sciences. Many also index areas of personal interest or research, such as sacred music or archeology. The team indexes titles representing research in more than forty-five languages from seventy countries. Their depth of knowledge ensures that Atla’s research tools support the successful discovery of relevant research from a highly diverse range of academic sources.
This month we feature Metadata Analyst, Adam Paradis
Adam was born and raised in Orange County, California. The Orange County of his childhood was surrounded by orange groves and oil fields, described by Adam as “subdivisions, but pre-McMansion subdivisions.” His father came to the area from Montreal, Quebec, while his mother’s family were first-generation Californians by way of Missouri and Texas. After high school, Adam spent some time studying philosophy and religious studies at a community college in Southern California before matriculating at the University of California, Santa Barbara, becoming the first member on both sides of his family to attend college for a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was initially interested in studying Buddhist intellectual history, but eventually, his interests shifted to the philosophy of religion, which he studied under Tom Carlson. He credits the religious studies department at UCSB with exposing him to European philosophy and consequently building his interest in studying religion from a critical perspective outside of the Anglo-American resources to which he’d been accustomed.
He continued this course of study at the University of Chicago Divinity School, earning his Master of Arts degree. While he was a graduate student, he began working in Special Collections, where he gained experience archiving collections and research materials. This gave him the “archiving bug” and led to him pursuing and earning his Master’s in Library and Information Sciences from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. To this day, Adam retains a deep passion for the service aspects of librarianship and still serves as a part-time reference librarian at public and community college libraries as his schedule permits.
Following the successful completion of his MLIS degree, Adam worked a series of jobs in libraries and archives. His focus gradually turned more to cataloging materials and metadata in service to the patrons of the libraries he worked at and away from academic research, and he was content with this work. His experience in this area led him to Atla, where, in November 2014, he took a role as a part-time digitization clerk. At Atla, Adam found an ideal workplace to utilize his skills in both library sciences and religious and philosophical study and by January 2015, he was hired as a full-time indexer, a position that is now known as a Metadata Analyst, which he holds to this day.
Adam covers a wide range of subjects in his indexing work for Atla. Among them are philosophy and intellectual history, philosophy of religion, comparative religious history, Western and European theology, and church history, particularly the sociological, intellectual, and social history of various denominations. He also covers a good deal of interdisciplinary material, such as the psychology and sociology of religions, as well as some methodology-focused journals and critical studies of religious materials. He also covers journals that fall under what he calls the “Is It Religion?” category on topics such as archaeology and anthropology, ideology, social theory, antisemitism, decolonization, feminist theory, queer theory, anticommunism and fascism, and political science. He is also one of our resident experts on materials related to magic and witchcraft, contemporary occult studies, new religious movements, and cults. The main languages for which he indexes are English, French, and Spanish, with some Catalan, Italian, Dutch, and German.
When asked what role he believes Atla fills in the religion and theology space, Adam said, “I think that Atla has a unique role due to its place among the academic study of religion, the professional study of religion, publishing worlds, and information technology worlds. My colleagues are all very talented and careful workers. Between or among the ten of us [on the metadata team], there have got to be five PhDs and twenty master’s degrees across the library sciences and academic study of religion. We are constantly familiarizing ourselves and engaging with the current and historical discourses in the broad fields of the study of religion. This allows us to constantly develop and refine the scope of our materials. Atla is functionally a massive bibliographer for a massive family of related fields. We encounter, promote, and pursue the emerging things in these worlds and set them alongside stalwart sources in these discourses.”
Outside of his work with Atla, Adam plays drums and bass guitar. He is an avid gardener and enjoys growing vegetables from seeds. He also practices regenerative gardening techniques using hens that he keeps in his backyard and using them to feed the ecology of his neighborhood in Chicago. He recently began a project in his neighborhood in which the whole area pledged to devote land in public areas to growing native plants and flowers, inspired by Thomas Sankara and Burkina Faso’s efforts in the 1980s to stave off desertification with tree planting programs, and promote reforestation efforts in countries such as China and Costa Rica. He is also an amateur social scientist with particular interests in revolutions and social movements, ecological and environmental movements, the history of imperialism, Marxist history, and “small a” anarchist theory. He enjoys publishing pamphlets and zines on topics such as politics and environmental issues. His most recent publication, Chickens Eat Food Waste Facts, discusses the massive environmental impact of rerouting kitchen scraps to backyard hens.
We asked Adam for some specific titles he would like to highlight
These are recent titles within our research tools that he was particularly excited about working on:
Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural, published by Pennsylvania State University Press. “In the three most recent issues of this title, you get lucid dreaming, vampires of all kinds, memetic theory and performance theory, witchcraft historiography, and so much more. What I like about Preternature is that it takes perennial questions associated with traditional, serious religion (with ritual experts and regulations and so on) and asks those same questions of recent and contemporary technology, literature, and discourses.” Indexed in Atla Religion Database®.
Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, published by Brill. “At Atla, we cover many materials that treat esotericism and the occult sciences. Aries purports to be the first journal to focus solely on these topics. Aries covers some usual suspects, including Allister Crowley and Thelema, Theosophy, Spiritualism, Gnosticism, and Hermeticism. What I like about this title, however, is that it takes the expansive and contested notion of ‘sciences’ seriously in its treatment of the occult sciences. ‘Science’ in this broad sense means knowledge and forms of knowing. These studies provide a contemporary understanding of the contested discourses that produced contemporary philosophy, theology, and religion.” Indexed in Atla Religion Database.
The Journal of CESNUR, published by the Center for Studies on New Religions. “This journal treats contemporary and recent historical issues in social movements typically named ‘cults,’ but academically referred to as ‘New Religious Movements.’ The cool thing about this journal: it participates in an intellectual tradition that studies and interprets socially marginal movements accused by others of being cults and, therefore, a social problem. There are discussions of the social problems these movements can bring (typically, sexual violence, coercion, psychological abuse, and so on), but this journal also seeks to understand the ramifications of accusation or what occurs as real consequences of a moral panic. They deal with the historical and related social movements of the Anti-Cult Movement. All this is to say, the Journal of CESNUR is a wide look at various social movements, their detractors, and the very real consequences of these judgments in legal, political, and social frameworks.” Indexed in Atla Religion Database.
AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, published by Sage. “This journal discusses decolonization projects from indigenous peoples around the world. It is cool because it brings indigenous knowledge methodological approaches to cultural studies, history, and social theory. The title is a massive resource on indigenous people studying indigenous people and how that emic perspective ought to be more widely adopted. It includes many papers on the confluence of cultural competencies in public services administration and health, and a multitude of others on how to incorporate site-specific or ethnically significant practices into (post)colonial research.” Indexed in Atla Religion Database.
We look forward to offering future spotlights highlighting Atla’s research tools. We invite you to let us know about subjects you’d like to read about in the future.
Find more information about coverage and how to access Atla’s trusted research tools on religion and theology.
View our full title lists, updated monthly.
Read more information on how content is evaluated and how to recommend a title for inclusion in Atla’s research tools.
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