Research at the Leiden University Institute of Religious Studies
Knowledge only grows in an interdisciplinary and international environment. The Leiden Institute for Religious Studies (LIRS) offers a stimulating context for research from the BA to the PhD level and beyond. LIRS research staff is internationally renowned experts in their fields, some of them directing their own research groups funded by prestigious grants. LIRS’ own expertise and the cooperation with colleagues from other institutes and faculties inside and outside Leiden creates unique opportunities to study multiple religious traditions from antiquity to the modern age. Research activities at LIRS are organized in two clusters: Religious Texts and Traditions in Antiquity (“Antiquity”) and Religion and Modernity (“Modernity”).
The research cluster “Antiquity”, chaired by Prof. Dr. Arie van der Kooij, coordinates research on religious texts and traditions of Jews, Christians and other religious groups in antiquity. Religious texts are examined from several perspectives – text critical, historical, philological, literary, sociological and ideological – and interpreted on the background of the context and cultures of their time. Attention is also paid to the study of non-textual sources on ancient religion and culture, such as, e. g., archaeology (excavations in Galilee).
The research cluster “Modernity”, chaired by Prof. Dr. Ernestine van der Wall, coordinates various research activities related to the roles and functions of religions in the recent past and present. A particular field of research of “Modernity” is the question how religious beliefs and practices respond to, and are transformed by, modernity in its various aspects such as the rise of the natural sciences and the modern nation state, Western democracies, globalization and migration, and the internet. Research concentrates on transformations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity in Europe, as well as Christianity and Islam in the Middle East, on social and psychological analysis of institutional and non-institutional religion, and on interactions between religious convictions and science and technology.