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The CSRCA was established by two scholars of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Stefania Travagnin and Peter Berger, and then enlarged its local core team by including also academics affiliated to other Faculties at the RUG.

Founding Staff Members


Stefania Travagnin is director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia. She is a Rosalind Franklin Fellow and Assistant Professor of Religion in Asia at the University of Groningen. She holds a PhD in the Study of Religions from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (2009), has been visiting scholar at the Center for Chinese Studies of the National Central Library and at the Institute of History and Philology of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, has extensive fieldwork experience within several Buddhist communities in East Asia, and has previously taught at the University of London (SOAS and Goldsmiths College), University of Missouri, University of Saskatchewan, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Manchester. Travagnin has researched different forms and levels of engagement between religion - especially Buddhism - and modernity in the Chinese context(s). Being trained in Chinese Studies and the Study of Religion, Travagnin looks at Buddhism as framed within the theories and critical terms of the field of religious studies, as well as within the history, society and culture of China, and so in dialogue with Daoism, Confucianism and folk religions. Furthermore, as a scholar of religion in China, Travagnin aims to interpret Chinese culture through local religious practices, and at the same time to articulate a new definition of religion as within the East Asian context. She is currently working on a book on the revival of the Madhyamaka school in twentieth-century China, and her volume A Taiwanese Madhyamaka? The Monk Yinshun (1906-2005) and his study of Da zhidu lun is forthcoming with Equinox. Contact:


Peter Berger (PhD Berlin 2004) is Associate Professor of Indian Religions and the Anthropology of Religion, and Chair of the Department of Comparative Study of Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen. He conducted long-term fieldwork among the Gadaba of highland Odisha (“Orissa” until 2011) and as his monograph on this research won a translation award the book will be published in English under the title Feeding, Sharing, and Devouring: Ritual and Society in Highland Orissa in 2014 (de Gruyter, Boston). In addition to his ethnographic and comparative interest in Indian Adivasicommunities Berger’s research is concerned with the cultural meanings of food in India and the history and theory of the anthropology of India. Together with Frank Heidemann (University of Munich) he has edited the volume The Modern Anthropology of India: Ethnography, Themes and Theory (Routledge 2013) and his views on the development of theory and ethnography in the anthropology of India have recently been published in the journal HAU. Contact:

Other Staff Members


Ya-pei Kuo is a university lecturer in the Department of History and is a historian of modern China. She received her BA from National Taiwan University and her MA and PhD from University of Wisconsin, Madison. Before joining the University of Groningen, she was a research fellow in the International Consortium of “Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe” at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, and has received visiting scholarships by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and Modern East Asian Research Center, Leiden University. Her research focuses on the conceptual formation of “religion” in the semi-colonial situation of late nineteenth and early twentieth century China. Specifically, she is interested in how different historical actors projected their (mis)understandings of Christianity into the construction of “religion.” She has written in the past on the recreation of Confucius cult, the missionary’s representation of Christianity, and the Chinese congregation’s criticism of mission strategy. She is currently working on the deployment of “religion” in intellectual debates of the 1920s. Contact:


Rajalakshmi Nadadur Kannan is an affiliated researcher at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at University of Groningen. Her research interests are religion in India, postcolonialism, and gender studies. She received her PhD in Religious Studies from Stirling University, Scotland in 2014. She received her two masters’ degrees in Communication from Madras University (India) and University of Maine (USA). Her doctoral thesis used classical music and dance as case studies to provide a postcolonial critique of constructions of religion/secular categories that had implications on gender identities by taking a Bourdieuian and Foucauldian approach to the early 20th century nationalist movements in South India. Her current publications are ‘Copyright, Capitalism and a Postcolonial Critique of Performativity in Karnatic Music’ in FocaalBlog, ‘Redefinition and Representations of Sex and Body in the Early 20th Century Public Sphere in South India’ in Anthropos, and ‘Displacement and Gender Violence of Devadasi Communities in the Early 20th Century South India’ in Sikh Formations. She is currently developing a project on Protestant education missions and nationalism in the early 20th century South India. She is the editor of the Critical Religion Association, an interdisciplinary research group founded at Stirling University. She is currently working as a Lecturer at Assumption University of Thailand. She is a trained Karnatic Music singer and has performed in India and the U.S. Contact:


Dalapati Nayak has recently completed his M.Phil degree in Central University of Odisha (Koraput, India) with a thesis on the ‘Assessment of Livelihood Status of Durua Community of Boipariguda Block Koraput District, Odisha’. He presented this research work in a national seminar of North Odisha University Baripada. Besides he has conducted research for the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) and UNICEF. Currently he is working on cultural and religious change among the Gadaba of Koraput, Odisha. Contact email:


Andrew Wormald (PhD Bristol 2015) is a Chiang Ching-kuo Postdoctoral Research Fellow working in the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia at the University of Groningen. His PhD thesis, entitled ‘Voices of Experience: Modernity and Buddhist Meditation in Republican-era China,’ examined the place of meditation discourse within Chinese Buddhism’s response to the intellectual and political reconstructions taking place at the beginning of the twentieth century. Andrew is currently investigating the reception of Tiantai meditation manuals during the Republican era, and is working on a monograph which will address his research into these topics.

Laatst gewijzigd:30 oktober 2017 23:33