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Centre for Religion and Public Life

January 2020

New on the Religion in Public blog

Our Centre's Religion in Public blog has recently featured several items worth reading: 

CRPL Faith and Activism Series Launch

From 2020, the Leeds Centre for Religion and Public Life will be publishing an online comment series on a chosen theme that speaks to the work being done by its members, partners and the wider academic community.  

Our first series is Faith and Activism.  

Two fantastic posts have been published so far. The first, by Biko Mandela Grey (Assistant Professor of American Religion at Syracuse University), titled: 'On Faith as Activism in Black Lives Matter'.

Our second post so far, on the 23rd January, by Stefan Skrimshire (Associate Professor at the the University of Leeds), titled: 'The Religion of Extinction Rebellion'. 

We are currently still accepting proposals for contributions for this ongoing series. If you are interested in contributing, please read through our CfP here and contact Hollie Gowan at

New Book by Dr Mikel Burley

Dr Mikel Burley's latest book, A Radical Pluralist Philosophy of Religion: Cross-Cultural, Multireligious, Interdisciplinary, was published by Bloomsbury on 23 January 2020. The book combines Mik’s interests in philosophy of religion, cultural anthropology and literary studies, examining topics that include conceptions of compassion in Buddhist ethics, divine possession in Hindu goddess worship, mortuary rituals in an Amazonian society and the themes of ‘animism’ and environmentalism in the study of Native American and other indigenous peoples. Further details about the book are available here.

Congratulations to Professor Rachel Muers

On the 12th December 2019, the CRPL supported the wonderful inaugural lecture of Professor Rachel Muers, titled: 'Theology in the Fabric of the Secular University: Of Friends and Professors'

The lecture is now online and available to watch. 

AHRC Grant for Research Network: Sexuality and Religion in East Africa

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded a Research Networking grant for the project "Sexuality and Religion in East Africa".

The Sexuality and Religion Network (SERENE) is led by Dr Adriaan van Klinken from the University of Leeds, together with Dr Barbara Bompani from the University of Edinburgh and Dr Damaris Parsitau from Egerton University in Kenya, who will serve as co-investigators.

The grant was awarded under the scheme Global Challenges Research Fund Highlight Notice 2019, specifically addressing the theme “issues of gender, equalities, diversity and inclusion in international development”.

SERENE will build sustainable partnerships between academic researchers and seven community-based organisations in Kenya and Uganda, with a view to understanding and enhancing the role of religious leaders in the area of LGBTIQ equality and inclusion in the East African region. Read further.

Adriaan van Klinken with two of the project partners, Dr Damaris Parsitau and Pastor David Ochar

'Tsunami of Love for Gay Bishop'

On the 17th January 2020, the Church Times published an article written by Dr Caroline Starkey (University of Leeds) and Professor Grace Davie (University of Exeter) about their research into letters written to the Bishop of Grantham.  It was the most downloaded Church Times article that week, and it is available here.

Tales of Sexuality and Faith: The Ugandan LGBT Refugees Life Story Project

In January, CRPL members Adriaan van Klinken and Johanna Stiebert spent a second research visit in Nairobi, Kenya, developing their British Academy/Leverhulme Trust-funded project, entitled 'Tales of Sexuality and Faith: The Ugandan LGBT Refugees Life-Story Project'. During their visit they participated not only in interviewing and a focus discussion group on life stories and Bible narratives but got to see creative dramas (with music) deriving from these activities. The next stage will be disseminating the research findings, including in a publication co-authored also with project partners of The Nature Network of Nairobi. 


CRPL Research Seminars and Events

  • Thursday 30th January: Dr Benjamin Kirby (University of Leeds): Neighbourhoods as religious actors: horizons of Muslim urbanism in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • Thursday 13th February: Professor Matthew Guest (Durham University): Anxiety and Stigma in the Lives of Muslim Students: How the ‘Radicalisation’ Narrative Shapes Higher Education in Britain.
  • Thursday 27th February: Professor Martin Seeger (University of Leeds): Buddhist performing arts: gender, allegory, and female authorship in modern Thai Buddhism.

New Publications

Mikel Burley, 'A Radical Pluralist Philosophy of Religion'. London: Bloomsbury.

Adriaan van Klinken, ‘Studying Religion in the Pluriversity: Decolonial Perspectives‘, Religion 50/1 (2020), 148-155.

Johanna Stiebert, 'Divinely Sanctioned Violence Against Women: Biblical Marriage and the Example of the Sotah of Numbers 5'Bible and Critical Theory 15(2), 2019: 83-108.

ABOUT THE Centre for Religion and Public Life

The Centre for Religion and Public Life at the University of Leeds is a hub for research into the important, and increasingly contentious, role of religion in public life in the world today, both locally, nationally and internationally. It provide a forum in which contemporary research and scholarship can be debated and disseminated. The Centre works closely with non-academic partners to identify the ways in which religion is relevant to their work and to produce research that is capable of meeting their need to better understand the nature of religion and religious organisations locally, nationally and internationally.

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