Muslims and Christians: Women, Religious Nationalism and Sustainability in the Asia Pacific Region
Chief Investigators: Prof. Terence Lovat; A/Prof Hilary Carey
Research Associates: Dr Santi Rozario, University of Cardiff
ARC Discovery Project, 2005-2008; $125,104
Through ethnographic studies of minority women in mixed Muslim-Christian communities in Bangladesh, and Australia, the project investigates the impact of new “religious nationalisms” on women’s behaviour as a boundary marker of religious identity at local, national and international levels. It studies changes in areas of religious life linked to the sustainability of family and community, often the responsibility of women and increasingly marginalized by new global religious forms. The project will advance an understanding of women’s responses to these changes and the consequences for the sustainability of communities.
National and Community Benefit
This project should provide agencies concerned with national security and immigration with an improved understanding of the impact of religious nationalism on communities and individuals. It should contribute to the effectiveness of Australian overseas aid initiatives, both government and voluntary, by increasing the available knowledge of how communities are sustaining themselves at present. It should, further, produce findings that make it easier for health, education and welfare agencies to deal sensitively with Muslim communities within Australia.
Progress on the Grant
In 2005, Prof. Geoffrey Samuel and Santi Rozario were appointed to research positions at the University of Cardiff. At this stage the project was redesigned to incorporate Newcastle-based researcher Terry Lovat and Chief Investigator (since both Samuel and Rozario were now ineligible for this role) with Rozario reassigned as a Partner Investigator. The key researchers have been ‘on the ground’ in the Sydney and Bangladesh sites since mid 2006. Ms Belinda Green is a Muslim convert who is known well to the Sydney Muslim group in question, as well as being an experienced researcher nearing completion of her PhD in Religious Anthropology. Dr Santi Rozario, original CI, has worked in the Bangladeshi site. She is well known in this site and is a renowned anthropologist. In each case, the respected insider has been put in place and ethnographic work following the agreed methodology is well underway. A/Prof. Carey’s role was to provide historical expertise and to assist in the organization of a workshop in Australia. The full team met in Newcastle in late 2006 to disseminate findings to this point in time and to begin planning the last stages of the project and the final dissemination to the wider professional community.
In the 2007 progress report, the main objectives of the coming year are around completing data-gathering from all sites, analysing these data and then having a detailed plan for final dissemination. Final dissemination will probably take the form of two highly specialized academic conferences, one for each site, and an edited book with accompanying articles that identify and take up particular features of the study in the two sites. The first conference was held in Delhi and the second is tentatively scheduled for May 2008. In all data and early analysis, indications are that the initial prime objective of focussing on people (especially women) as members of minority communities in a Christian-Islamic religious context is being realized. In August 2008, Hilary Carey and Terry Lovat will be organizing a workshop to be held in Newcastle on the theme: Women, Islam and Social Inclusion.
- Rozario – six relevant articles and papers
- Carey, H.M. (2007). Religious Conflict and the Australian Case. Invited paper to Workshop on religion and Social Cohesion. Australian National University, 5-6 Dec. 2007.
- Lovat, T. (2006). Interpreting the scriptures of Islam and implications for the West. The International Journal of the Humanities, 4:63-69.
- Lovat, T. (2006). Islam as the religion of ‘fair go’: An important lesson for Australian religious education. Journal of Religious Education, 54: 49-53.
- Lovat, T. (2006). Recovering Islam through Religious education: A Moral Imperative. Invited Paper and Symposium Chair at Association of Moral Education (AME) Conference, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Lovat, T. & Samarayi, I. (2008). Restoring justice to Islam: An historical, theological and artistic exploration. In M. S. Becker & J. N. Schneider (Eds.), Human rights issues in the twenty-first century. (pp. 27-72) New York: Nova Science Publishers.