World Christianity Studies
Within the field of World Christianity Studies we are focusing Christian churches, communities and individuals in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. We are particularly interested in exploring various transnational links and relations between the Global South and the Northern hemisphere. Not least diverse forms of missionary activities carried out in a non-western environment from the beginning of 1500s up to the present day.
In doing research, grounded in adequate methods and adequately chosen theoretical departure points, we are analysing and problematizing Christian faith and life in shifting periods of time and on diverse places on earth. As we are based in Sweden with great access to archives and private collections related to Christian mission, we believe that we have a significant contribution to offer the wider research society.
An area of study that has proved to be particularly fruitful is mission periodicals, written in Swedish, from the late 19th and early 20th century when these journals were a significant part of widespread popular reading and pivotal in disseminating views about non-European peoples and circumstances. Therefore, we consider it an important task to collect, analyse, and present this unique material for a broader academic audience. In this regard we will continue to draw upon existing networks for scholarly research through which archival material could be analysed in critical dialogue with other methods and sources such as conducted interviews or fieldwork that is carried out elsewhere in the world.
The field of World Christianity Studies in Uppsala draws clearly upon its historical legacy of extensive research and fieldwork and strives to develop adequate tools of doing research on Christian mission in Sweden and beyond.
Interreligious Studies, as it is understood here in Uppsala, implies studies on how Christians relate to people of other faiths. Particularly we are focusing empirical studies of how Christians relate and negotiate their faith when encountering people or belief systems of other faiths. One important area of research is, for instance, how Christians relate and refer to religious plurality. Their strategies could be of intellectual and theological character; namely how Christians may argue or defend their faith in the midst of religious plurality. On a similar note, the strategies could have social or political implications; how Christians may find strategies to survive in a context where Christian mission is highly questioned or even forbidden.
Issues related to conversion, personal narratives of conversion, or religious change more broadly are of crucial importance within this field of research. These social or religious changes could imply, among other things, a person to leave one religion in favour of another. Moreover, it could also imply an intensified commitment to one’s own religious beliefs and ideals or, for that matter, to leave all forms of religious engagement. Studies on religious change deal not only with those who have become Christians or left Christianity in favour of another religion but also to focus on processes of change and transformation within different churches that significantly have changed in character over time.
Contact persons: professor Kajsa Ahlstrand and professor Magnus Lundberg
As researchers engaged in the field of World Christianity and Interreligious Studies in Uppsala we participate in several local, national/Nordic, and international academic networks. Since its inception we have been committed to The Nordic Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Studies (NIME). We have research school contracts with the departments for Mission Studies in Lund University and Misjonshögskolen in Stavanger (VID) and meet regularly for PhD seminars. The European Society for Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies (ESITIS) is an important scholarly structure for the discipline, as is the European Network for Buddhist Christian Studies (ENBCS). We are also related to the International Association of Mission Studies (IAMS) and its regional and global conferences at which some of our PhD students have presented academic papers.