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CRPL Seminar Series

The CRPL has a fortnightly seminar series where speakers from inside and outside the University of Leeds present current research on any aspect of religion that, in one way or another, intersects with public life locally, nationally or internationally. The seminars are open to all with an academic interest in the study of religion and public life.

Seminars in the academic year 2023-24 will take place in person, 11:30-13:00h (unless otherwise indicated), in the Botany House seminar room (1.03).

Seminars in Semester 1 (Oct-Dec)

Thursday 5 Oct: Dr Jonathan Smith 

Jonathan Davis Smith completed his PhD at Leeds in 2019. You can read about him here and here.  Jonathan is currently Visiting Researcher at the Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, as well as Visiting Research Fellow at the CRPL.


“‘You can pray your own way’: environmental social movements as sites of (inter)religious cooperation and transformation in Indonesia”


This talk describes how grassroots environmental social movements in Indonesia connect multiple religious and non-religious actors and practices in shared campaigns to address environmental crises. It draws on a dataset of 208 movements operating in Indonesian local communities between 1990 and 2022, enriched by an ethnography of a grassroots movement operating in southern Java. This data helps to challenge and contextualise concepts of religious environmentalism, interreligious cooperation and lived religion.

NB ***Additional Paper*** 

Tuesday 3 October 10:00-12:00: Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris 

Deborah Kahn-Harris is Principal of Leo Baeck College, London. She will be presenting on the topic of her new book: polyamory and the book of Ruth. *** 


“Polyamory and Reading the Book of Ruth”


This talk is based on a simple premise: what if the Book of Ruth isn’t a love story in the vein of modern rom coms, but a different sort of love story? Many people are conditioned to read romance stories as resolving into happily married, dyadic couplings, most often heterosexual. But what if that’s not how to read the Book of Ruth? This book identifies a polyamorous hermeneutic and explores how it might be helpful in interpreting the Book of Ruth.

Thursday 19 Oct: Ms Annet Nadunga 

Annet Nadunga is currently completing her PhD in biblical studies at Kyambogo University (Kampala, Uganda). Her doctoral work focuses on what constitutes a “good wife” in Proverbs 31 and Ugandan indigenous traditions. She is visiting Leeds on a travel grant from The Spalding Trust. 


“Ideological Quandaries in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study of Marriage and Family Life in Uganda”


Ideology is one important aspect which influences a society’s way of viewing and interpreting reality. It is a political and philosophical framework within which people form a sense of their realities. In the context of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is not possible to speak of a singular framework, because the region is a melting pot of ideologies, with resulting strains, disagreements and conflicts in social relationships. Ideologies are the basis upon which knowledge, values, attitudes, behaviours and social relational patterns are formed. This paper examines the ideological quandaries that characterize African marriages and family life. It identifies and names the three major ideological tenets, namely: African traditional cultural ideology, Afro-Christian, and Western worldviews. This creates the tri-polar ideological environment, in which an African family finds itself. Each of these ideologies prescribes “normative” expectations of a good marriage relationship—specifically how women should behave in a marriage setting in order to create a harmonious family. Inevitably, there are conflicts and problems of all sorts, like domestic violence, single parenthood, separation and divorce. This paper advocates for a confluence between ideologies. The three environments can speak tenderly to each other with the potential of producing a home-grown ideological space, hence the question: How can the three ideological tenets coalesce to produce a grounded set of ideas and an environment that is harmonious to an African marriage? This paper is based on my ongoing doctoral research, which examines the concept of a good (noble) wife in Proverbs 31:10-31, in relation to African traditional and cultural understandings of a good wife in the context of modernity and postmodern ideologies.

Thursday 2 Nov: Dr. Leanne Williams Green 

Dr. Leanne Williams Green is a socio-cultural anthropologist of religion and ethics and research fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. You can read more about her here. Her book manuscript is based on fieldwork carried out in Zimbabwe with middle-class Baptists. Her newly developing project examines the relationship between Christianity and class in the UK. Leanne’s work has appeared in the journals Africa, Ethnos, and JAAR, among others. She received her PhD in sociocultural anthropology from the University of California, San Diego.


"Ethics without choice: Baptist accounts of suffering and responsibility in postcolonial Harare"


Living amidst persistently difficult economic and political conditions, residents of Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, regularly engage with questions about the causes of suffering through the terms of responsibility. One group of Baptists living in the city address the topic by way of a long-standing debate in Christian theology and beyond: that of the relation between moral responsibility and human freedom. Harare’s Baptists challenge the presumption that in order to be held morally responsible, a person must be free to choose and to act. They take responsibility to be a feature of relation, rather than a function of choice. This commitment makes sense of their struggle to live moral lives as parents, employees, and citizens, when they take humans to be fallen creatures who often seem to have very little choice. Their view offers an important corrective to accounts of ethics that overemphasize choice, and provides insight into the ways in which people navigate uncertain postcolonial conditions through daily moral deliberations.

Thursday 16 Nov: Dr. Tajul Islam 

Tajul Islam is Lecturer of Islamic Studies in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds. You can read more about him here.

Thursday 30 Nov: Dr. Chris Greenough 

Chris Greenough is Reader in Social Sciences at Edge Hill University. You can read more about him here.

Thursday 14 Dec: Dr. habil. Jörg Haustein 

Jörg Haustein is Associate Professor in World Christianities at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. You can find out more about him here.


Seminars in Semester 2 (Feb-May)

Thursday 8 Feb 


Thursday 22 Feb 


Thursday 7 March 


Thursday 21 March: Dr. Megan Robertson


Thursday 2 May: Prof. Francesca Stavrakopoulou 

Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. Find ouy more about her here.


Hook Lecture 2023, by City of Sanctuary founder Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal

The annual Hook Lecture returns this year as we welcome Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal, former President of the British Methodist...

Inaugural lecture Prof. Tendai Mangena: "Disruptive Single Women"

You are warmly invited to attend the inaugural lecture of Professor Tendai Mangena, titled Disruptive Single Women: Gender and Sexuality...

Seminar with Dr Stefan Skrimshire: Liturgies of lament in contemporary religious eco-activism

On 30th March, the Centre for Religion and Public Life is hosting a research seminar with Dr Stefan Skrimshire who...

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