Strategic research areas

The Department of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS) wishes to enable more flexibility and more new and temporary, research initaitives and to  encourage more interdisciplinary research.  The opportunity for innovation, creativity and interdisciplinary initiatives is a prerequisite for being at the forefront of international research and thus seeking external resources and attracting and keeping scientific talent.

That is the reason we utilize clutches for strategic research areas. A cluster is a research group that focuses on a specific subject that spans several research areas,  e.g. the Arctic, Islam, materiality studies and litterature.

Cluster for interdisciplinary research on religion

The Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS) is a treasure trove for interdisciplinary engagement with a diverse range of topics related to religion. While the field of Religious Studies has a focus on religion at its core, researchers in several other study areas at ToRS also engage with the topic of religion with e.g. attention to identification patterns, cultural heritage or politics. The aim of this research cluster is to fashion an open milieu for interdisciplinary conversations and research in and of religion.

Coordinator: Andreas Bandak

Digital humanities

The aim of this cluster is to explore digitalization as a research object and a method at Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies (ToRS). We will explore the usefulness of digital methods in our research and the implications of the increased digital mediation of our social and cultural world. The main purpose is to bring together existing ToRS research on digitalization and to create a momentum for this kind of research at the departmental level. By creating awareness of and building capacities related to digitalization, we also expect a number of positive spillover effects, such as an increased number of publications on digitalization and research applications involving digital methods as well as an increased use of digital methods and studies of digitalization in teaching. We also aim to make suggestions to ToRS management, ToRS committees and ToRS colleagues regarding the possibilities for integrating digitalization and programming in research and teaching.

Coordinators: Bo Ærenlund Sørensen (and Lars Højer until 1 April 2021).

Food Matters

The Food Matters cluster engages in research of all aspects relating to food, including religious, material, social, political and economic questions.  The different research activities carried out over the course of recent years have already shown the advantage of a cross-disciplinary approach to this particular topic. The themes studied within this cluster will include taste (the growing importance of insects, the cultural change in taste through time as evidenced by ancient recipes), health and nutrition, movement of foods (e.g. chillies, ‘German’ potatoes, Greek symposia and Indian food), the role food plays in identity construction, and negative food (memory and bad taste). Members of the cluster have already been involved in research concerning food origins, the role of commensality, the relation between food and identity, as well as food and its economic and social role.

The humanities should make a more prominent contribution to the study of foods, past and present, since much research has been dominated by scientific approaches that mostly focus on nutritional or health aspects. The humanities, however, highlight the varied cultural influences on food making and consumption that influence food choice and processing. Food Matters adds a wider regional and diachronic perspective as well as more diverse perspective on food. The group is open to more members, who might want to join the cluster for all or only certain activities.

In February 2020 an international workshop with 12 speakers and over 25 participants with the title “Food and Drink in Feasting” was held successfully at the University of Copenhagen.

Coordinators:  Susanne Kerner and Morten Warmind

Islam and Muslims in the modern and global world

This open research cluster will bring together the different disciplines and research on Islam and Muslims. While it does have a distinctly contemporary focus, the cluster will focus on what the common global challenges are to Muslims and Islamic communities and institutions around in different contexts. The traditions, norms and Muslim practices in the Islamic world are challenged by regional autocracy, identity politics, and global trends, while an increasing number of Muslims now live as minorities in almost every country in the world, but in a diasporic relationship to the countries of their origin.

In this light, we ask; What does it mean to be a modern and global Muslim? How are Muslims interpreting and negotiating not just traditions and texts but also practices and morals in the encounter with other normative orders? How are various Muslim groups and Islamic communities relating to their tradition and its continuation to future generations, and what does resonant and responsible Muslim leadership look like in the modern, global world, both in the private and public realms?

An explicit ambition of this research cluster is to focus on the empirical sources to answer these kinds of questions. We will be examining and discussing the sources for considering distinctly modern and global expressions of what it means to be Muslim and how Islam is to be understood.

The ethical and the senses

This cluster explores the relationship between somatic experiences and individual ethical outlook. The main underlying questions the cluster is asking are a) how particular somatic experiences and individual ethical orientations affect one another, b) what concrete processes are at play in this relationship, c) what role senses play in it, and d) what the relationship is between such “somato-ethics” and the broader collective moral schemas.

This open cluster is conceived as a space for interested researchers to think together through the lens of research beyond their own specialization to inspire new ideas. Our aim is to identify the areas where otherwise seemingly distinct research projects at ToRS can cross-fertilize. This is not only in order to enhance our understanding of singular case studies and the overall processes shaping ethical outlooks, but also to increase the theoretically productive synergy between the different study areas at the department.

Coordinator: Beata Świtek

Former strategic research areas