Carol Lowery Delaney earned an A.B. in philosophy at Boston University, 1962.
After a ten year hiatus, she entered Harvard Divinity School and received an
M.T.S. 1976, and went on to the University of Chicago for a Ph.D. in cultural
Her anthropological fieldwork was conducted in Turkey, 1979-82, two years
of which were spent in a relatively remote mountain village. She won the
Galler prize for the most distinguished dissertation in the Division of the Social
Sciences at the University of Chicago. That dissertation was transformed into
a book, The Seed and the Soil: Gender and Cosmology in Turkish Village Society.
After spending a year in Belgium on a Fulbright Fellowship conducting
research among immigrant Turks, she returned to Harvard where she became
Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, 1985-87, and
taught several courses at the Divinity School.
She taught at Stanford University in the Department of Cultural and Social
Anthropology from 1987-2006, now emerita. One popular course,
Investigating Culture, became the basis for an innovative textbook,
Investigating Culture: An Experiential Introduction to Anthropology,
third edition forthcoming, early 2017.
While at Stanford she wrote Abraham on Trial: The Social Legacy of Biblical Myth, which was finalist for the National Jewish Book Award (category scholarship) and special mention for the Victor Turner Prize of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. It was also the inspiration for an opera of the same title, composed by Andrew Lovett, and had its world premier in England, 2005.
Her latest book is Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem. She writes that she had not thought much about Columbus until the fall of 1999 when she was teaching a course called "Millennial Fever" intended to observe the frenzy gripping the United States over the turn of the millennium and to study the history of apocalyptic, millennial thinking. In one of the readings, she came across a reference to Columbus's apocalyptic, millennial beliefs. Neither she nor any of her colleagues had ever heard of them. This drew her to the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University where she spent the summer of 2003 and then returned with an NEH fellowship in 2004-05. Her research was so compelling that she decided to retire from Stanford in order to work on her book about Columbus. For two years, she also taught half time in the Religious Studies Department at Brown.
In addition to numerous articles and invited lectures she has also had, as of this date, 48 letters published in the New York Times, and others in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Providence Journal, Harvard Magazine, and Harper’s.
In the spring of 2014 she walked more than 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain and walked 280 miles in the spring of 2015. She walked the Coast to Coast path across England with her brother in May 2016.