Impressions from the Startup of the Religion and Gender Project

By Samantha Langsdale, PhD Candidate, SOAS, London

Being a research student can be lonely; this observation is often repeated through out a PhD student’s career. And indeed it can be. Very few people will share as intense an interest in your research area, and even fewer still will share the same level of familiarity with your material. After so many years, it can be difficult to imagine academic contexts in which you are one of many, rather than simply one. Attending the startup meeting, ‘Interdisciplinary Innovations in the Study of Religion and Gender: Postcolonial, Post-secular and Queer Perspectives’, in Utrecht not only helped to dislodge me from the solitude of doctoral research, it also demonstrated the importance, the promise, and the excitement inherent in collaborative thinking.

Far from simply being spectators, the student attendants of ‘Interdisciplinary Innovations’ were encouraged to actively participate and to make contributions to all critical discussions. The meetings were open and relaxed whilst also producing bold possibilities for the future of research in the interdisciplinary fields of Study of Religions and Gender studies. Although all junior researchers–like our senior research counterparts–were involved in very different projects, the opportunities to bring one’s own perspective to the table were numerous. The proposals that were made, and the discussions which took place, both inside the meeting space as well as in more social contexts, were truly varied in method and content.

Not only did I enjoy the beautiful host city of Utrecht, I was also thoroughly grateful to feel new waves of enthusiasm for research. The scholars present at ‘Interdisciplinary Innovations’ showed me the fantastic potential in collaboration and filled me with renewed excitement for the study of gender and religions. My time in Utrecht was so enriching and I look forward to working amongst these scholars for many years to come.

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