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CRPL research day: "Religious Creativity in a Changing World"

Event Announcements

The Centre for Religion and Public Life at the University of Leeds invites you to a research day on 16th June, on the theme:

Religious Creativity in a Changing World

This interactive event will showcase how religion, culture and identity are being imagined, improvised and lived in a changing world. The hybrid event is held in person on campus, as well as online. Please reserve a ticket (by 9th June) to let us know you will be attending.

Scholars of religion have long challenged the idea that religion can be understood solely as a fixed or hegemonic set of beliefs of practices which are imposed by leaders on followers. Studies of lived religion and practical theology have illuminated pluralistic beliefs and practices within religious and non-religious communities, and they have explored the creative “arts of resistance” through which marginalised groups challenge, subvert and transform religious norms. Pressing global challenges have motivated innovative responses, and new opportunities presented by online and in-person networks have resulted in the forming of new communities across borders and boundaries.

In this context, religious creativity describes a dynamic and imaginative process where scholars, artists and practitioners improvise ways of living by re-framing and adapting beliefs to address pluralising and rapidly changing contexts. This approach prioritises the perspectives of the people doing the creative process, paying close attention to how they re-imagine, re-interpret and reform.


The presentations on this research day will explore cases of religious creativity in diverse contexts, as well as questions concerning scholarly engagement with such creativity as the academic researcher shifts between roles such as observer, interpreter, curator, and at times, creator.

  • Mikel Burley - The battlefield of Hindu mythology: The Goddess versus the Buffalo Demon in contemporary India
  • Sean McLoughlin - Re-making Muslim soundscapes in translocal Bradford: the politics of co-producing everyday lived Islam at the National Science and Media Museum
  • Joanna Leidenhag - Religious creativity among people with autism (provisional title)
  • Caroline Starkey - Beings of Sorrowless Bliss: Establishing a Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Holbeck
  • Grace Nwamah - Embodying religion in new media: Exponential growth of the Streams of Joy International Church during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Alan Benstock - One image, two stories: How curation of exhibits brings together subjects of a common faith
  • Jonathan Smith - How environmental social movements in Indonesia improvise religion and tradition
  • Tasia Scrutton interviews Johanna Stiebert and Adriaan van Klinken about their book Sacred Queer Stories

The research day will conclude with a keynote talk (doubling as her farewell lecture from Leeds) by Prof. Rachel Muers on ‘Listening for Voices: Relating Tradition and Creativity in Theology’, followed by a drinks reception.

Lunch will be provided along with coffee and tea breaks for in-person participants.

Please reserve a ticket to let us know you will be attending.


Image credit: "The Glacier" by `James Wheeler , Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.