Doing Research on Religion, Gender and the State

Published April 15, 2019 by Tobias Müller

Tobias Müller, organiser of the conference held at the Woolf Institute on March 25-26, 2019, on outcomes, controversies, future research, and a new definition of "fundamentalism".

Prof Torkel Brekke from the University of Oslo delivering the public keynote lecture on fundamentalism

How do religion, gender and the state intersect? What are the most analytically promising ways to talk about strictly observant, "fundamentalist", socially conservative belief and practice? To address these questions, the Woolf Institute hosted the international conference "Strictly Observant Religion, Gender and the State" on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 March 2019. Since it is impossible to sum up the multiple strands of discussions and the different perspectives introduced during the conference, I would like to arbitrarily select five particularly memorable arguments.

The emphasis on religious authority is emphasising the importance of a current dynamic trend in scholarship on religion. However, in many ways the new definition does not offer remedies to the criticism of eurocentrism, the question of generalisability and a suspiciously teleological understanding of history. The most effective remedy for these conceptual problems seems to be, as the conference suggests, to engage in an analysis of concrete historical and contemporary religious movements and their relation to gender and the state. We are looking forward to continue the conversation started with the launch conference of the Strictly Observant Religion, Gender and the State project, the first phase of which will run until November 2020.

This article is written by Tobias Müller, who is a Research Fellow at the Woolf Institute and is currently working on the project Strictly Observant Religion, Gender and the State.

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