A special emphasis of the center's research profile is on issues of gender.
Director Elina Vuola is Professor of Global Christianity and Dialogue of Religions at the Faculty of Theology. She also acts as vice-dean of international affairs and societal interaction of the Faculty. She has been doing research on religion and gender, religion and development, religion in contemporary Latin America, as well as lived religion. Her last research project, funded by the Academy of Finland (2013–17), Embodied Religion. Changing Meanings of Body and Gender in Contemporary Forms of Religious Identity in Finland, investigated religious minorities (for example, the Orthodox Church, which includes the indigenous Skolt Sámi, and the Jewish community) in Finland from the perspectives of gender and lived religion.
She has been a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School and Northwestern University (USA) and Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones (Costa Rica).
The Turkish-born specialist in global Islam and Islamic feminism Didem Abaday arrives at the RCD from Stockholm University where she has been working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies.
Abaday’s research topics include Muslim identities in Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries, Islamic women’s movements, Islamic fashion and dress, as well as the Muslim diaspora.
Her currently ongoing research project entitled ‘Contemporary Encounters between Islamic Dress, Fashion and Gender: Pious Muslim Women’s Sartorial Strategies in Diaspora’ examines Muslim cosmopolitanism and Islamic dress from the perspective of lived religion in both European and North American immigration contexts.
The project looks at pious Turkish women’s sartorial choices, strategies and maneuvers with a focus on how they revisit the complex relationship between Islamic ethics and aesthetics and engage in a self-reflective inquiry into the meanings of belonging, piety and public self-presentation in diaspora.
Within this frame, the project highlights the significance of studying the complexities of biographical experience, the actual material aspects of Islamic veiling and the intimate, subjective and embodied accounts of the salience of religion to Muslim women’s everyday experiences.
Teemu Pauha, a specialist in the social psychology of religion, was originally educated as a psychologist. After completing his degree in psychology, he continued onto the study of religions, attaining both a master's degree and a doctorate.
In his doctoral dissertation, Pauha examined the national and religious identities of Finnish Muslims, or how to be specifically a ‘Finnish Muslim’.
Pauha's research topics have included research on relations between religious groups, apostasy, the moral psychology of Islamic sermons and the debate concerning the plans to build a grand mosque in Helsinki.
At the Religion, Conflict and Dialogue research centre, Pauha will focus on the interrelations of Shias and Sunnis. He's interested in the construction of group boundaries from the perspective of social psychology: how are others defined as belonging either to the same group or a different one.