Research projects

Research projects at the School of Divinity are centres of excellence for their subjects.

Nationalism and Ecology: Women’s participation and the Hindu-right in the India-Bangladesh Borderland

Dr Sneha Roy was awarded the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2022 for a three-year project that seeks to identify and understand the ways in which women of the Hindu-right/Hindutva organisation (Samaj Seva Bharati Pashchim Banga) conceptualise religious nationalism to interact with and navigate the politics of ecology in the Sundarbans, a tempestuous borderland region between India and Bangladesh. Hindu nationalists mediate between ‘saffron’ (symbolising Hindutva) and ‘green’ (symbolising ecology) politics to participate in environmental protection, which are locally demonstrated but are subsumed under the agenda of national identity. This examines how the women model their interpretations of Hindu nationalism to organise their responses around environmental crises.

Comparative Buddhology in Indian Narrative Literature

Dr Naomi Appleton has been awarded a grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for a collaborative three-year project (2020-23) with Dr Chris V Jones (Cambridge), looking at the development of the figure of the Buddha in Asian religious literature from the early Common Era.

The project will focus on the period after the emergence of the Mahayana, one of the main traditions of Buddhism. Although it officially ends in September 2023, the work will continue throughout the coming academic year.

Decolonising the Museum: Digital Repatriation of the Gaidinliu Collection from the UK to India (DiMuse)

Dr Arkotong Longkumer and Professor Clare Harris from the University of Oxford have received an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant for a 4-year research project on the Gaidinliu collection.

This project will show how the Gaidinliu collection needs to be rethought, reframed, and challenged. It will also raise more significant questions regarding digital repatriation, ownership, and knowledge production. It will involve several activities – a film documentary, a graphic novel, and a bespoke online exhibition with 3-D objects curated onto a website.

Governmateriality of Indigenous Religion(s) 

Dr Arkotong Longkumer is involved in the GOVMAT research. It is a multi-national project led by UiT, the Arctic University of Norway. It aims to explore the influence of indigenous religions in different settings across the world today: in local communities, at certain international events, and in a range of diverse exchanges – social media, journalism, art, education, politics, law, environmentalism, and tourism.

The work will build on foundations laid by a related project, Indigenous Religion(s): Local Grounds, Global Networks (INREL).


Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls is a series intended for the scholarly study of the most important non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls. It aims to provide scholarship of the highest level that is accessible to non-specialists, based on the best digitized images and readings. Each volume will include a synthetic and substantial introduction, followed by a line-by-line commentary on the scrolls. The commentary will provide an English translation, textual notes and thematic discussions of the original Hebrew text of the scrolls. The next volume on the Rule of the Community has been submitted to OUP and is scheduled to be published in 2024.

The general editor of the publication is Professor Timothy H. Lim. Although he will be demitting from his chair from September 2023 onwards, he will continue writing his book on the canonization of the Song of Songs and edit the Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

See: Oxford Commentary on the Dead Sea Scrolls

Public Theology in the Post-Migrant Society: The Role of Religion in Multi-Faith Refugee Relief (PTPS)

Dr Ulrich Schmiedel is involved in the PTPS. This three-year research project funded by Lunds Missionssällskap, explores the role of religion in the practices of A World of Neighbours, a multi-faith network working with people on the move across Europe. By examining under which sociological and theological conditions diversity of religions can become a force for cohesion rather than conflict, PTPS addresses a lack of research on the impact of multi-faith cooperation on refugee relief. The project aims to conceptualise a multi-faith public theology for the post-migrant society that enables and empowers practitioners from the three Abrahamic faiths to work together for refugees in the public square, demonstrating the impact of faith-based initiatives on pluralist societies in Europe.

Scottish Religious Poetry: An Anthology

Dr Linden Bicket has been awarded £5000 by the Royal Society of Edinbrugh to produce a new edition of Scottish Religious Poetry, an anthology first published in 2000 by Saint Andrew Press, an imprint of Hymns Ancient and Modern. This project is also supported by a grant of £3,700 from The Drummond Trust to Professor Alison Jack, the project's Co-Investigator.

The new, revised edition of the anthology edited by Dr Linden Bicket, Professor Alison Jack and Dr Emma Dymock will present readers with work by poets of all religious backgrounds, in Scots, Gaelic and English. The new edition allows the editors to showcase a greater diversity of voices and perspectives on religion than was possible at the turn of the century, and which reflects the changes in Scotland’s religious landscape since that time.

The Cultural Life of Money and Finance

The Chair of Divinity, Professor Rachel Muers, is one of the leading investigators of the research project The Cultural Life of Money and Finance.

As we move into a "cashless society" and as urgent questions are asked about how money and finance shape how we relate to the environment, what is the future of money - and how can research in the arts and humanities help us to see towards that future? This project gathers researchers who are asking questions about the cultural and societal life of money - in religion, in history, in the arts, in cross-cultural contexts, in relation to larger frameworks of value and meaning - and brings their insights to bear on questions of the future of money. By exploring alternative meanings and representations of money from the past and from across cultures, we will uncover new resources for rethinking and reimagining money at this time of rapid change - focusing on responding to the environmental emergency and the challenges of cashlessness.  

See: The Cultural Life of Money.

Theology Born From Crisis: Resilience Discourse in the Three Major Prophets

Dr Anja Klein has been awarded a £100K British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship that starts on 1 September 2022 and is a one-year buy-out.

The books of the three Major Prophets in the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) are crisis literature. This project is the first that undertakes a critical reading of the prophetic materials through the lens of resilience. Firmly rooted in historical-critical research, it aims to demonstrate that the formation of theology in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, represents a resilience discourse that fostered group identity and agency. The project offers a fresh approach to theology in the Hebrew Bible and uncovers an ancient theological discourse that can serve as a model of how groups deal with crises and develop resilience.

Welcoming the Stranger: Resources for a European Multi-Faith Ethics of Migration (WTS)

Dr Ulrich Schmiedel is part of WTS. Co-funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in Scotland and the Birgit och Sven Håkan Ohlssons Fond in Sweden, WTS brings together scholars and stakeholders concerned with faith-based refugee relief in Europe to develop practice-based resources for a multi-faith ethics of migration, drawing on the theologies of the Abrahamic religions. Connecting theoretical and practical approaches, WTS works with a multi-faith design. Through immersion in the work of the practitioners of A World of Neighbours, a multi-faith-based refugee relief network working with people on the move across Europe, theologically-engaged scholars from the Abrahamic religions investigate the significance of their theological traditions for a multi-faith ethics of migration in action, producing ethical guidelines for faith-based and multi-faith-based networks such as ‘A World of Neighbours’. While explorative and experimental, this co-creation of knowledge aims at a conceptualization of resources applicable to the realities on the ground.