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  2. Dr Maria Nita

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.  



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 

Chapters in books: 

2020. “‘Inside Story’ Participatory Storytelling and Imagination in Eco-pedagogical Contexts”, in Storytelling for Sustainability in Higher Education: An Educator’s Handbook, edited by Petra Molthan-Hill, P., Heather Luna, Tony Wall, T., Helen Puntha and Denise Baden. Oxon & New York: Routledge, 154-167. 

2017An 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. 

2014Christian 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. 

Peer reviewed articles:   

2020. 'Counterculture, Local Authorities and British Christianity at the Windsor and Watchfield Free Festivals (1972–5)', Twentieth Century British History. 31 (1): 51 -78,  (Maria Nita and Sharif Gemie). 

2019. ‘Sky vs. Earthly Empowerment: From Angels and Superheroes to Humans and Community in the Marvel Universe and Green Christian Cosmology’, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture31 (3): 236-249. 

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

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

Online articles, blogs and vlogs:   

2021. ‘Divination as Storytelling: Dealing (with) Death and Extinction’, Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective, Open University [online]

2020. ‘High religiosity and “resisting” Covid 19 governmental advice in Romania’, Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective, Open University [online] 

2019. 'Where are Extinction Rebellion's Cultural Roots?', Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective, Open University [online]  

2018. ‘Humour, Concealment and Death Mindfulness in Romanian Funerals’, Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective, Open University [online]  

2018. ‘Balneoterapia in Europa [Hydrotherapy in Europe]’, Techirghiol, IV (12) (October 2018) [online]  

2017. ‘Summer of Love as a Turning Point in Festival Culture’, The Summer of Love Open University Series, Open University [online]  

2012. ‘Creation Spirituality’, Encyclopaedia of The Bible and its Reception, edited by Bernard McGinn. Boston and Berlin: Walter de Gruyter [online] 

2011. ‘Occupy Religion’, in Open Learn, Open University [online]   

Book reviews: 

2019. ‘Sustainability and the Humanities’, edited by Walter Leal Filho and Adriana Consorte McCrea. 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 two modules: ‘A332: Why is Religion Controversial?’ and  ‘A227: Exploring Religion: Places, Practices, Texts and Experiences’. 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 and Alternative Spiritualities. 

External collaborations

I am presently collaborating with colleagues in the UK, as well as international scholars in Romania, Hungary and Canada, 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.