our research / Areas
Religion, Beliefs and Culture
We study religious beliefs and their impact on culture and society to inform our work negotiating and transforming conflicts. Deeper analysis increases understanding of the complex interactions that characterise religious issues today.
A religious community’s perception and narrative of its cultural history shape its understanding of its role in society. They also form a community’s sense of belonging and its willingness to engage with others. Conflicts that arise from the tension created by these issues deserve the critical analysis that we undertake.
We want to deepen the public understanding of religion, and increase its sophistication. Theological and philosophical thinking and texts, traditions and practices are all important to the formation of religious identity and community. A strong grasp of the nuance enables us to look deeper wherever religious identity is taken to define one entire religion, tradition or community in opposition to others.
The more we understand or know about religious beliefs and their impact on culture, the better we can conduct this public debate.
Religion and Public Life
The complex interaction of religion with other forces permeates many of our most urgent public issues.
Many societies are becoming more religiously diverse, and often more secular. Religion penetrates all aspects of identity, and colours our sense of sameness and difference from others.
How religion relates to culture and ethnicity but also national identity and civic life is an important area of analysis. It brings into focus the interaction between religious drivers and secular or non-religious forces within broader society.
Religious imperatives, motivations and allegiances lie along the fault-lines of many national debates and conflicts. Consequently religious factors permeate society’s contemporary questions about immigration, integration, community relations and social cohesion.
Our work in this area allows us to formulate more rigorous project designs that are clearly orientated to be applied to the social needs of diverse and multicultural communities.
Religion, Law and Security
The threat of terrorism and the ‘war on terror’ put pressure on existing tensions in religion and citizenship as well as interreligious relations.
Global security and stability force us to face challenges and controversies that are extremely urgent. But they are also supremely sensitive and generate conflict and social breakdown.
Religions bring their own historical bodies of law, usually seen as sacred, which may create conflicts with secular law and authority. This raises questions for the sustainability of communities when religious individuals and communities negotiate the challenges of living under two codes of law.
Since 2001 global security and international terrorism have been inseparable from questions of religious ideology. A new, highly uncomfortable relationship exists between government bodies and communities of faith. Without the intellectual background to understand the complexity of religious force-fields, it is difficult to analyse threats accurately or create effective responses.