School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies

Religious Studies Research

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Religious Studies Staff and Their Research Specialties

Professor Paul Morris
Contemporary world religions, world's religions after 9/11, Judaism, including the Holocaust, diaspora and the state of Israel, Hebrew language, the relationship between religion and dying/death, religion and personal and cultural identity, theories and methods in the study of religion

Dr Joseph Bulbulia
Evolutionary psychology of religion, philosophy of religion, religion and the emotions and ritual theory

Dr Michael Radich
Medieval Chinese Buddhism; the early Mahayana; Buddhist doctrinal history; religion and the body

Dr Rick Weiss
Tamil Hinduism, religion and colonialism, healing systems, South Asian religion, 19th century Tamil literature

Dr Geoffrey Troughton
Social and religious history in New Zealand, Christian history and traditions

Dr John Shaver
Religious change in the Pacific and the role of religion in human life history strategies.

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Note: Professor Chris Marshall has taken up a new position as the Inaugural Chair of Restorative Justice, in the School of Government. His research specialties include: New Testament theology and ethics, peace theology, contemporary Anabaptist theology and restorative justice theory and practice

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Religious Studies Staff Interests and Publications

Past and current research by our staff are all listed on their individual staff pages available under the School's staff directory.

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Marsden Grant for Transforming Hinduism

Rick Weiss, has received a three-year Marsden Grant for his research on Transforming Hinduism. He will examine important projects of Hindu religious innovation in nineteenth-century South India. These projects entailed re-imagining caste, gender, ritual practices, and sources of authority. Weiss's principal aim is to consider the impact of colonial and missionary forces on the ways that Hindus reconceived their traditions at the beginning of the modern era. By emphasising non-elite responses to colonialism, this research will challenge prevailing scholarly narratives of the development of contemporary Hinduism.

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Religious Studies Research Publications

New Zealand Jesus: Social and Religious Transformations of an image 1890 - 1940
by Geoffrey Troughton

Geoffrey Troughton's major study, New Zealand Jesus: Social and Religious Transformations of an Image 1890-1940 (Bern: Peter Lang, 2011), is the first historical analysis of New Zealand images of Jesus. This book uses a wide range of sources to examine ways that New Zealanders thought about Jesus during a period of significant change and modernisation. The resulting analysis provides insights into the character of New Zealand religion and its place in the nation's history and culture.'

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The_spirit_of_the_past_G_TroughtonThe Spirit of the Past: Essays on Christianity in New Zealand History (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2011) edited by Geoffrey Troughton and Hugh Morrison.
This collection of essays offers fresh insights into debates about the role and influence of Christianity in New Zealand history, and makes available some of the best new research into the history of local Christian ideas, practices and institutions.


Recipes for ImmortalityRecipes for Immortality: Medicine, Religion and Community in South India by Richard S Weiss
Oxford University Press has published a new book by Rick Weiss, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies. In Recipes for Immortality: Medicine, Religion and Community in South India (January 2009), Dr Weiss asks how practitioners of traditional siddha medicine maintain their popularity in the modern world. While biomedicine might alleviate a patient's physical distress, siddha doctors offer their clientele much more: affiliation to a timeless and pure community, the fantasy of a Tamil utopia, and even the prospect of immortality. Recipes for Immortality makes the case that medical authority is based not only on physical effectiveness, but also on imaginative processes that relate to personal and social identities, conceptions of history, secrecy, loss, and utopian promise.

While shedding light on their lives, vocations, and aspirations, the book also documents the challenges that siddha doctors face in the modern world, both from a biomedical system that claims universal efficacy, and also from the rival traditional medicine, ayurveda, which is promoted as the national medicine of an autonomous Indian state. Drawing on ethnographic data; premodern Tamil texts on medicine, alchemy, and yoga; government archival resources; college textbooks; and popular literature on siddha medicine and on the siddhar yogis, Dr Weiss presents an in-depth study of this traditional system of knowledge, which serves the medical needs of millions of Indians.

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AjatasatruHow Ajātaśatru Was Reformed: The Domestication of "Ajase" and Stories in Buddhist History by Michael Radich

The story of Ajātaśatru is important to the history of Buddhism, psychoanalytic theory, and notions of modern Japanese identity. This, the most comprehensive study of the story to date, covers primary sources in Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese (classical and modern), and modern scholarship in English, French, German, Japanese and Mandarin; and spans over two thousand years of Buddhist history, from India, via China, to contemporary Japan.

New Rights New Zealand Myths, Markets and Moralities by Paul Morris and Dolores Janiewski.
 pmThis book is an important study of the growth of the New Right in New Zealand in the years 1984 to 1999. Its value arises from the way it focuses on the global context of the economic and moral programmes for change in the 1980s and 1990s, aiming to provide a more accurate picture than that given either by those who see the reforms as part of the play of global capitalism or by those who see them in terms of local personalities and agendas.


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