Staff and Fellows
Dr Joram Tarusarira is Assistant Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the University of Groningen. He studied Religious Studies and Philosophy in Zimbabwe, Peace and Post-Conflict Reconciliation studies in Ireland, and Adult Education and Community Development in Canada. Dr Tarusarira earned his PhD at the University of Leipzig (Germany), where he was a member of the German Research Foundation (DFG) Research Training Group ‘Religious Non-Conformism and Cultural Dynamics.’ He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena in Germany. His research interests are at the intersection of religion, violence, peacebuilding, conflict transformation and reconciliation. He has a wealth of practical experience working with civil society organizations and social movements. He is the author of Reconciliation and Religio-political Non-Conformism in Zimbabwe , London, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2016 and co-editor of Religion and Human Security in Africa , London, Routledge/Taylor and Francis (2019).
Convenors of Research Clusters
Dr Brenda Bartelink is fellow on religion, development and faith based organizations (FBO) and co-convenor of the research cluster Sexuality, Gender and Multiple Modernities. She is experienced in working with FBOs and civil society organizations around issues of development, gender, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, both from an academic and professional perspective. She is currently works as a senior project officer for the Knowledge Center on Religion and Development at Oikos Foundation and is finalizing her PhD research on Religion, Aids and Sexuality in the Development relations between FBOs in the Netherlands and East Africa.
Dr Kim Knibbe does qualitative research on religion and secularism in the Netherlands, particularly on the themes of gender and sexuality. She is currently the Director of the "Sexuality, Religion and Secularism" project, funded by the Netherlands Foundation for Research (NWO). Her previous research focused on Catholicism and spirituality in the Netherlands and on Nigerian Pentecostalism in Europe and the Netherlands. In addition to this work, she has published a series of theoretical and methodological reflections on the dilemmas of participant observation in studying religion.
Dr Julia Martínez-Ariño is Assistant Professor of Sociology of Religion at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). She received her PhD in Sociology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) in 2012. She has been research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen, Germany) and a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Chaire Religion, culture et société at the Université de Montréal (Canada) . Currently, she is also research associate of the Religion and Diversity Project (Dir. Lori Beaman, University of Ottawa, Canada) and the research unit ISOR (Dir. Mar Griera, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), where she worked as a PhD student and researcher. She is co-founder of the "Religion and Public Institutions" Research Network , member of the EUREL network and Co-editor-in-chief of the journal New Diversities . Her main research interests are the governance of religious diversity, in particular in cities and public institutions, namely prisons, hospitals and schools. In her PhD she studied the contemporary Jewish communities of Spain. She has done research in Spain, Canada, Germany and France.
Dr Erin K. Wilson is Associate Professor of Religion and Politics at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. From 2012-2017, she was founding director of the CRCG (then known as the CRCPD). Her research is positioned at the intersection of religious studies and International Relations, with particular interest in the impact of secular worldviews in areas of global justice, human rights, forced migration, development and gender, and the development of alternative theoretical frames beyond ‘religious’ and ‘secular’. Her books include The Refugee Crisis and Religion: Secularism, Security and Hospitality in Question (co-edited with Luca Mavelli, Rowman and Littlefield International 2016), After Secularism: Rethinking Religion in Global Politics (Palgrave 2012), and Justice Globalism: Ideology, Crisis, Policy (with Manfred B. Steger and James Goodman, Sage 2013). She has co-edited The religious as political and the political as religious: the blurring of sacred and secular in contemporary International Relations (Special Issue of Politics Religion Ideology), and her articles have appeared in International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Refugee Studies, Globalizations, Politics Religion Ideology and Global Society.
Professor Richard Amesbury is a philosopher and scholar of religion who works at the intersection of ethics, philosophy of religion, and political theory. He is Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University.
Dr Gorazd Andrejč is a philosopher of religion. His main work is in philosophy of religious language and communication as well as epistemology and phenomenology of religion. His particular interests are liberal religion, interreligious relations and disagreement, as well as religious-secular communication and disagreement, especially in Europe. Gorazd is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, and a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Philosophical Studies, Science and Research Centre of Koper, Slovenia. His recent book, co-edited with Daniel Weiss, is Interpreting Interreligious Relations with Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Studies .
Helge Årsheim has a PhD from the University of Oslo, where he currently works as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at The Faculty of Theology. His first book, Making Religion at the United Nations (under publication by DeGruyter), examines the genealogy and current approaches to religion at the United Nations, with a particular emphasis on four committees set to monitor international human rights treaties. He is a member of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the correspondent for Norway at the EUREL network, and founding editor of the scholarly Religion: Going Public blog. His current research explores the ways in which religion travels across different levels of governance in international and domestic legislation and jurisprudence, ranging from refugee status determination procedures to zoning regulations, prisons and the governance of indigenous peoples’ rights.
Marjo Buitelaar is full professor Contemporary Islam at the faculty of Theology & Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Her research interests focus on Islam in everyday life, narrative identity construction and migration. She is programme leader of an interdisciplinary research project on modern articulations of pilgrimage to Mecca. Previous research projects concerned ethnographic studies on the hammam (public bath) and the fasting month Ramadan in Morocco, and a life story project about the upward mobility of daughters of Moroccan migrants to the Netherlands. She is one of the lead educators of the MOOC Religion & Conflict. Her most recent (co-edited) books are: Negotiating Autonomy and Authority in Muslim Contexts (2103); Religious Voices in Self-Narratives (2013); Hajj: Global Interaction through Pilgrimage (2015).
Dr Elisabetta Costa is a media anthropologist who investigates the uses and consequences of communication technologies on people's everyday life in Italy, the Middle East, and Turkey. She is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Media and Journalism Studies at the University of Groningen. She is the author of Social Media in Southeast Turkey (UCL Press 2016) and several other book chapters, and the co-author of How the World Changed Social Media (UCL Press 2016). Her articles have appeared in Ethnos, Global Perspectives, New Media & Society, the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, and Oriente Moderno.
Kat Eghdamian is a specialist researcher on religion, forced migration, and minority rights issues. Her current research focus on the relationship between religious identity and experiences of international displacement, with a focus on religious minorities among Syrian refugee populations in the Middle East. In addition to academic and policy-oriented publications, her work has recently appeared in The Conversation, ABC Radio National, and The Washington Post. Currently a PhD candidate (ESRC Scholar) at University College London (UCL), Kat is also a Research Associate at the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs and a Consultant at the human-centred innovation agency, Mensch. She holds postgraduate degrees from the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford, and has been a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. She is also a qualified barrister and solicitor where she had worked in human rights advocacy and research for almost a decade before entering academia.
Nadia Fadil works as an Associate Professor at the IMMRC (Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre) at the University of Leuven. After having obtained a PhD at this same institute, she has been affiliated as a Postdoctoral Jean Monnet Research Fellow at the European University Institute (2008-2009), a Visiting Fellow at the University of California Berkeley (2011-2012), a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at Columbia University (2018) and an FWO Postdoctoral fellow at the KU Leuven (2009-2012). Her work centers on Islam in Europe (taking Brussels as ethnographic site), both as a lived tradition as well as an object of regulation. She draws on this empirical question to reflect on a vast set of theoretical issues such as subjectivity and power, ethical selfhood, postcoloniality, governmentality, race and secularism. Her most recent publications include Secular Bodies, Affects and Emotions. European configurations (with Monique Scheer and Birgitte Scheplern Johansen, Bloomsbury 2019) and Radicalization in Belgium and the Netherlands. Critical perspectives on Violence and Security (with Martijn de Koning and Francesco Ragazzi, IB Tauris 2019). She has also been active as a columnist and writer in the Belgian press and is a board member of a few organizations working on migration, multiculturalism and social inequality in Brussels.
Dr Glendinning has a BPhil and a DPhil in Philosophy from Oxford University. He is Reader in European Philosophy and Director of the Forum for European Philosophy in the European Institute at the London School of Economics. Dr. Glendinning's main research interests concern the religious roots of Europe’s modern cultural identity. Three recent journal articles – ‘Japheth’s World: The Rise of Secularism and the Revival of Religion Today’, ‘The End of the World made with Men in Mind’ and ‘Three Cultures of Atheism: On Serious Doubts about the Existence of God’ – develop a sustained critique of the conception of European modernity that underlies standard construals of the decline of theism in Europe today.
Dr Ton Groeneweg has a background in literary studies and philosophy, and holds a PhD from Leiden University. For the past fifteen years, he has been working in the development sector, with a special focus on the interaction of religion and development issues. He is presently working at the Asia program and as policy officer for religion and development at the organization Mensen met een Missie.
Christoph Günther studied Middle Eastern Studies, History, and Arabic. Currently, he is the Principal Investigator of the junior research group Jihadism on the Internet: Images and Videos, their Dissemination and Appropriation at the University of Mainz. Christoph’s research interests include religio-political movements in the modern Middle East, visual cultures and iconography, and the sociology of religion. He has extensively published on the evolution, ideology, and political iconography of the Islamic State and its predecessors. His most recent peer-reviewed publications include an article in the International Journal of Communication (13/2019) in which he develops the concept of iconic socioclasm to analyze the Islamic State’s strategy to attack religious scholars, cultural properties, and related social infrastructures. Christoph’s second monograph, The Islamic State: Entrepreneurs of Identity (Berghahn Books, forthcoming) addresses the Islamic State’s identity politics and scrutinizes the movement’s symbolic repertoire. He has also co-edited a volume on Jihadi Audiovisuality and their Entanglements (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) where he develops a conceptual framework for an interdisciplinary analysis of the multiplicity of textual, verbal, aural and visual figurations, symbols, and patterns of appropriation and their culturally constituted aspects and experiences that evolve around audio-visual articulations of Jihadi ideologues, groups and movements.
Dr Annette Jansen earned her PhD in Anthropology of Religion at VU University Amsterdam in 2015. Her current research interests include religion, secularism and identity conflicts in Europe, interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogues and religion, development and humanitarianism. Her first book, entitled Anti-genocide Activists and the Responsibility to Protect , was published in 2017 as part of the Routledge Humanitarian Studies Series. A paperback edition of the book is forthcoming. In addition to her academic interests, Annette has seventeen years of experience working in the field of conflict prevention, religion and gender for various non-governmental and (inter)governmental organizations, such as Peace Brigades International, Oxfam International, Cordaid (member of CARITAS International), Hivos, PAX (member of Pax Christi International), UN Women and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As senior researcher and policy adviser for Jansen Consultancy, Annette conducts qualitative research for baseline and context studies, assists in policy and programme development and acts as facilitator for meetings and (peace) dialogues.
Dr Jay Johnston is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Studies in Religion, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of Sydney, Australia and Co-Convenor of the Science, Religion and Philosophy Cluster. Dr Johnston is an interdisciplinary researcher who utilises her training in religious studies, continental philosophy, gender studies and art history to investigate theories of the intermediary, or 'in between', and its role in religious belief and practice. This includes examining the way material culture, the environment and the understanding of animal subjectivity is used to evidence relations across metaphysical/faith boundaries. In particular she rethinks theories of embodiment, agency, image and materiality and their use in the construction of individual identity and the negotiation of cultural difference. She is particularly interested in the relationship between aesthetic experience and ethical behaviour.
Vlado Kmec is member of the research clusters Religion, Peace and Security as well as Religion and Global Institutions. As a scholar trained in international relations, peace and conflict studies, sociology, anthropology, religious studies and theology, Vlado researches various intersections of religion, social issues and international affairs. He offers expertise in religion and migration; religion in conflict and peacebuilding; ethnic and religious conflicts; religion and international relations; mediation and negotiation; the United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. He studied at the University of Cambridge, Trinity College Dublin, Georg-August University in Göttingen, Humboldt University Berlin, University of Ottawa, Comenius University in Bratislava, Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, and Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen/ Nürnberg. Vlado’s publications include 'UNISFA - United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei' in the Oxford Handbook of UN Peacekeeping Operations (eds. Koops et.al 2015), and 'Religion as a Response to the Experience of Immigration: The Irish Case' in Religion in Times of Crisis (Ganiel, Monnot and Winkel 2014).
Dr Luca Mavelli is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, UK. Prior to this, Luca was a lecturer at the University of Surrey, an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sussex, and held teaching positions at the University of Queensland, Australia and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His research focuses on questions of religion, secularity, postsecularity, security and political violence in international relations. He is the author of Europe’s Encounter with Islam: The Secular and the Postsecular (Routledge 2012), and the co-editor of The Postsecular in International Relations (2012 Special Issue of the Review of International Studies ) and Towards a Postsecular International Politics: New Forms of Community, Identity, and Power (Palgrave, 2014). His articles have appeared in the European Journal of International Relations , Review of International Studies, Millennium: Journal of International Studies , International Politics , Critical Studies on Terrorism , Journal of Religion in Europe , and Teaching in Higher Education .
Dr Méadhbh McIvor is a Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. Méadhbh is a social anthropologist with a particular interest in the anthropologies of law and religion. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2016. Prior to her time in Oxford, she was Assistant Professor in Religion, Law and Human Rights at the University of Groningen. Her first monograph, Representing God: Christian Legal Activism in Contemporary England , was published by Princeton University Press in October 2020.
Dr Karin Neutel is a fellow of the Sexuality, Gender and Multiple Modernities cluster. She is Lecturer in the Department of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins at the University of Groningen. Her research focusses on early Jewish and Christian ideas about gender, sexuality, family and community and their contemporary reception. She is particularly interested in male circumcision and the controversies surrounding this practice, both in Antiquity and today.
Dr James Noyes is a policy advisor to Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Prior to this, he was a lecturer at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po). He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and is the author of The Politics of Iconoclasm - a history of cultural heritage destruction which links iconoclastic absolutism in Christianity and Islam to the rise of the modern state. He is an honorary fellow of UCL Culture at University College London.
Dr Atalia Omer is an Associate Professor of religion, Conflict, and Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on religion, violence, and peacebuilding as well as theories and methods in the study of religion. She is a 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellow working on a book tentatively titled Global Religion, Peacebuilding and the Perils of Development: Beyond Neoliberalism and Orientalism. She is the author of Days of Awe: Reimagining Jewishness in Solidarity with Palestinians (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming) and When Peace Is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice (University of Chicago Press, 2013). She is also a co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding (Oxford University Press, 2015) and a co-author (with Jason A. Springs) of Religious Nationalism: A Reference Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2013). Omer has published articles in various peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Journal of Religious Ethics, Soundings, The Journal of Political Theology, The Study of Nationalism and Ethnicity, and The International Journal of Peace Studies.
Dr Benjamin Schewel is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen and an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. His research examines how conceptions of history shape arguments about changing place of religion in the modern world. His first book, Seven Ways of Looking At Religion, was published by Yale University Press in 2017. He is currently writing a second book for Yale University Press, entitled Encountering the Axial Age.
Dr Emily Thomas is Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Durham University. She holds a PhD from Cambridge University and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at RUG. Thomas mostly works on space and time in the history of philosophy, and this often takes her into philosophy of religion. She has published on God’s relationship to space and time in historical metaphysics, process theology, and pantheism.
Muhammad Velji is a PhD candidate in the philosophy department at McGill University. The main assumption underlying various Muslim veil bans is that the veil is inherently oppressive. In his dissertation, The Philosophy of Piety: How Muslim Women who Veil Allow us to Rethink Automaticity, Agency, Adaptive Preferences, and Autonomy, Muhammad investigates this assumption by trying to answer whether women who veil are autonomous using the feminist framework that self-rule is not ideally self sufficient and atomistic but that autonomy is constituted through our relationships and our social situation. Using Saba Mahmood and other anthropologists who have lived among and studied Muslim women's piety movements, Muhammad reconstructs this ethnographic work into an Islamic virtue ethics in order to show these movements' self transformative work and the autonomy they create together. To find out more about this work and his new project on dealing with minority groups' claims for religious freedom through accommodations from the law as well as the problem of women's rights within these religious groups, entitled Relational Pluralism: Group Sovereignty without Libertarian Assumptions, please see muhammadvelji.com .
Jelle Wiering is a cultural anthropologist who's main interest lies in the field of religious studies. Currently, he works as a PhD researcher at the University of Groningen in a project that focuses on the intersection of religion, secularism, and sexuality in the Netherlands, and is led by Kim Knibbe. Previously, he wrote a thesis on Western Buddhists, at the University of Amsterdam, and a thesis on Dutch pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela, both of them based on empirical research.
Dr Olivia Wilkinson is a sociologist of humanitarianism and religion. Her monograph is titled "Secular and Religious Dynamics in Humanitarian Response" (Routledge, 2019), and unpicks how secularity is one of many privileges and biases in the humanitarian system, making aid unfair and inappropriate. She is currently Director of Research for the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. She has a PhD and Master's in humanitarian action from Trinity College Dublin and Université catholique de Louvain respectively and a degree in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge.
Dr Tahir Zaman is the Deputy Director of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research (SCMR) and a lecturer in human geography at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. He is primarily interested in alternative socio-cultural understandings of refuge, protection and assistance during times of mass-displacement – with a particular emphasis on the significance of Islamic narratives. His PhD explored the social and cultural life-worlds of Iraqi refugees in Damascus where he undertook fieldwork in 2010 and 2011. His doctoral research also critically engages with the limits and opportunities of faith-based humanitarianism. His first book, Islamic Traditions of Refuge in the Crises in Iraq and Syria, is published with Palgrave Macmillan. Tahir has since worked extensively with a leading peace-building and conflict transformation NGO on considering the role of Syrian Diaspora actors in responding to mass displacement and contributing towards peacebuilding.
If you are interested in joining a research cluster or becoming a fellow of the Centre, please contact the director.
Kholoud Al Ajarma is an award winning Palestinian photographer, film-maker, refugee-rights activist, researcher and anthropologist. Kholoud is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen with primary focus on Islamic pilgrimage (hajj) and its meaning in everyday life in Morocco. She is a graduate of International Studies, Peace Studies, and Anthropology and Development Studies. Prior to her current work, Kholoud worked in the field of refugee studies, international migration, visual culture, knowledge production, and immigration in Latin America and the Middle East. Kholoud has worked with Palestinian refugees in Palestine, Europe and Latin America. In Palestine, she led projects in the field of refugees, peace, and youth empowerment including the 'Refugee Youth Forum,' an innovative platform for active youth participation within human rights research, media, conflict resolution, and social justice.
Christoph Grüll conducts research on the role of civil society organizations in Europe in the context of displacement. A particular focus lies on religious and faith-based organizations and the question of how these are involved in debates of cosmopolitan and state-centric approaches to justice and (forced) migration. Before starting his PhD project in 2017, he completed his MA in religious studies at the University of Groningen and his BA at the University of Hamburg. His research interests also include the relation between religion and law, the discursive study of religion, and the study of secularism.
After obtaining a Bachelor in Philosophy at the University of Groningen, Sanne Hupkes pursued a Master in Global Studies at Roskilde University and the University of Leipzig. Her research interests lie in social and political philosophy as well as in International Relations, and particularly concern peace and peacebuilding, democracy, and social ontology. Her PhD research focuses on the role of (power-sharing) democracy in peace operations and she is concerned with the place of (religious) collective identities within democracy in post-conflict societies. Case studies that are of importance for this project are for example Northern Ireland and, especially, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Elizabeth Revai Mudzimu is a research student and Catholic nun of the Little Children of Our Blessed Lady (L.C.B.L.) in Zimbabwe. She holds a BA Honors Degree and an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Zimbabwe, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from the Zimbabwe Open University. Her research interests include women, religion, politics and development. Her PhD focuses on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Religion, Culture, Violence, and Conflict Transformation in Zimbabwe.
Aukje Muller’s current research focuses on the place of religion in Dutch and Australian political responses to and debates on forced migration. Her research is conducted within the framework of a cotutelle project at the University of Groningen and Macquarie University, Sydney. Aukje completed her BA and MA in Religious Studies at the University of Groningen, during which she also focused on research interests such as the intersection of religion and gender, the relation between religion and politics, refugee and minority rights, and human rights.
Communications & Logistics Officer
Roos Feringa is responsible for the communication and logistics at the CRCG. She’s also the assistent editor of the CRCG’s blog The Religion Factor. As assistant editor she is responsible for proof reading and editing of the blogs, communication with contributors and promotion of the blog. Roos is currently enrolled in the ‘Religion in the Public Domain’ master track from the faculty of Theology and Religious studies in Groningen (where she also received her Bachelor’s degree) and has just returned from a research internship regarding religious hate speech in Indonesia. Her main focus in the master is secularism, authoritarianism, religion in Turkey, religious hate speech and the relation between religion, politics and civil society.
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