Religious lives are lived out in specific localities, from busy urban neighbourhoods to rural and coastal communities. The Religious Studies discipline at the OU is particularly interested in historical or ethnographic research oriented towards experiences of locality and the development of spatial approaches to religion. Current research in this area includes extensive ethnographic study in Glastonbury, work on urban/religious affect in relation to social movements, and historical and ethnographic research in shifts in the sites of religion in the city.
The discipline also has considerable expertise in the performance of religions and spiritualities and their manifestation in material and visual cultures. This dovetails with our interest in lived and vernacular forms of religion and spirituality and their expression across multiple scales and contexts. In contrast to studies that privilege religious texts, ideas and beliefs, we focus on what people do, how they do it, and on the sensuality of the materials they use. Research concerned with material, visual and performance cultures promises to make important contributions to understanding religions in historical and contemporary contexts. Current research in this area includes projects exploring powerful and potentially transcendent and transgressive experiences generated through noise and pain.
We welcome applications in areas that correspond with current staff research interests. We look for detailed and well thought-out proposals, which set out specific research questions and outline the originality of your topic or approach. We encourage you to discuss your ideas informally before submitting an application; to do so please contact us (details below).