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Dr Maria Nita

Profile summary

Professional biography

Having grown up in Romania in the 1980s and immigrated to the UK in 2000, my first contact with the Study of Religion was in the UK, having previously been awarded a Licentiate in Philology in Romania. Given my initial training as a philologist I continue to be fascinated by language and folklore, as well as biosemiotic approaches to understanding culture. Once in the UK, I enrolled on a Contemporary Religions and Spiritualities MA course and I was later awarded a scholarship to undertake doctoral research with Christian and Muslim climate activists. I was granted a PhD by the Open University in 2013. More recently I have completed a postgraduate degree in Higher Education and was awarded a Fellowship to the Higher Education Academy, in the UK.

Research interests

My current research is centred on climate activism, sustainability and storytelling, particularly in relation to religious practices. More broadly I am interested in the British counterculture and the cultural processes that enabled its development, in the West. As such, I am interested in the early festival culture that developed during the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the UK. In my recent work I have investigated practices and discourses that facilitate cultural change and I am also conducting ethnographic research inside the Extinction Rebellion Movement, via participant observation. I am particularly interested in the artistic and performative dimensions in this movement and the impact of these activities on both the rebels and the public. Other research interests include: green Islam, green prayers and rituals, and spirituality in health environments.  

Publications

Books:

2016     Praying and Campaigning with Environmental Christians: Green Religion and the Climate Movement. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-60035-6

(forthcoming 2020)     Festival Cultures: New Directions, Approaches and Methods (edited with Jeremy Kidwell)

(forthcoming)              Extinction Rebellion in Red and Black - Ritualised Protest in the New Climate Movement 

Chapters in books:

2017     ‘An Altar inside a Circle: A Relational Model for Investigating Green Christians’ Experiments with Sacred Space’, in Material Religion: The Stuff of the Sacred, edited by Timothy Hutchings and Jo McKenzie, London: Routledge, 133-151.

2014     ‘Christian and Muslim Climate Activists Fasting and Praying for the Planet’, in How the World’s Religions are Responding to Climate Change, edited by Robin Globus-Veldman, Andrew Szasz and Rondolph Haluza-DeLay, New York: Routledge, 229-243.

(forthcoming, 2019) ‘Inside Story:  Participatory Storytelling and Imagination in Eco-Pedagogical Contexts’, in Storytelling and Sustainability, edited by Petra Molthan-Hill, London: Routledge. (Accepted for publication March 2019)

Peer reviewed articles: 

2019. (with Sharif Gemie) ‘Counterculture, Local Authorities and British Christianity at the Windsor and Watchfield Free Festivals (1972–75)’ in Twentieth Century British History.  DOI:10.1093/tcbh/hwy053. First published online, printed version forthcoming [online] http://bit.ly/BritishChristianity

2019. ‘Spirituality in Health Studies: Competing Spiritualities and the Elevated Status of Mindfulness’ in Religion and Health. DOI: 10.1007/s10943-019-00773-2. First published online, printed version forthcoming [online] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10943-019-00773-2

2019. Sky vs. Earthly Empowerment: From Angels and Superheroes to Humans and Community in the Marvel Universe and Green Christian Cosmology. The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 31(3): 236–249. DOI 10.3138/ jrpc.2018-0001.

2018. ‘Christian Discourses and Cultural Change: The Greenbelt Art and Performance Festival as an Alternative Community for Green and Liberal Christians’ in Implicit Religion. 21 (1): 44-69. DOI.org.10.1558/imre.37354.

Online articles, blogs and vlogs: 

2019. 'Where are Extinction Rebellion's Cultural Roots?', in Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective, Open University [online] http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/religious-studies/?p=980

2018. ‘Humour, Concealment and Death Mindfulness in Romanian Funerals’, in Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective, Open University [online] http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/religious-studies/?p=676

2018. ‘Balneoterapia in Europa [Hydrotherapy in Europe]’, in Techirghiol, IV (12) (October 2018) [online] https://sbtghiol.ro/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/techirghiol12-site.pdf

2017. ‘Summer of Love as a Turning Point in Festival Culture’, The Summer of Love Open University Series, Open University [online] http://bit.ly/MariaNitaSummerofLoveVlog

2012. ‘Creation Spirituality’ in Encyclopaedia of The Bible and its Reception, edited by Bernard McGinn. Boston and Berlin: Walter de Gruyter [online] https://www.degruyter.com/view/EBR/MainLemma_40576

2011. ‘Occupy Religion’, in Open Learn, Open University [online] https://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/religious-studies/religion-occupied  

Book reviews:

2019. ‘Sustainability and the Humanities’, edited by Walter Leal Filho and Adriana Consorte McCrea. 2019. Sustainability and the Humanities. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Green Letters. DOI: 10.1080/14688417.2019.1639972.

2019. ‘Minority Religions in Europe and the Middle East: Mapping and Monitoring’, edited by George D. Chryssides. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019. (forthcoming) Fieldwork in Religion.

2017.  ‘Ritual: Key Concepts in Religion Series’, edited by Pamela J. Steward and Andrew Strathern in Fieldwork in Religion, 12 (1): 133 -134.  

2015. ‘The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements’, edited by George D. Chryssides, and Benjamin E. Zeller in Fieldwork in Religion, 9 (1): 103-105. 

2015. ‘The Ashgate Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements’, edited by Eileen Barker in Fieldwork in Religion, 9 (2): 224-228. 

 

Teaching interests

I am currently teaching on three modules: ‘A332: Why is Religion Controversial?’, ‘A227: Exploring Religion: Places, Practices, Texts and Experiences’ and A105 ‘Voices, texts and material culture’. My past teaching experience, at the University of Birmingham, the University of South Wales, Bath Spa University and Oxford Brookes University, was broadly focused on teaching Christianity and Islam, both in historical perspective and in the contemporary world, alongside New Religious Movements, New Age and Alternative Spiritualities. I have also taught subjects concerned with Feminism and Religion and Research Methods, at postgraduate level.

External collaborations

I am presently collaborating with colleagues in the UK, as well as international scholars in Romania, Hungary and the US, on a variety of projects and funding bids, concerned with art and performance activities, sustainability and digital humanities. I am particularly interested in conducting research in my native Romania.

Publications

Praying and Campaigning with Environmental Christians: Green Religion and the Climate Movement (2016)
Nita, Maria
ISBN : 978-1-137-60034-9 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : New York