Research clusters

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.

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.

Coordinator: Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen

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.

Thinking Through the Transnational (TTT)

The aim of this cluster is to probe the implications of a situation where the “Areas” of “Area Studies” increasingly overflow their geographical containers: through globalization, transnationalism, migration, diasporias, media and so on. These developments call for a re-appraisal of the aim and value of Area Studies - and a critical engagement with various iterations of “global humanities". How does an attention to regional, transregional or global processes affect our work with “the area(s)”? To what extent are we prepared to “follow" a phenomenon/culture/topic into the world? How do we engage with fields overlapping ours, e.g. migration studies or global history? What methods do we use to study a geographically slippery “area”? What is the role of language skills in the negotiations of globalization? How do we engage macro- and meso-level theories on our micro- level of research? Is it a task for us to react, in our work with different regions or cultures and languages, to calls for “globalizing” or “decolonizing" theory, method, epistemology and science itself? 

This cluster forms a space for thinking about these questions through closed peer feedback sessions on works-in-progress as well as lectures, seminars and roundtables open to the public.

Coordinator: Rasmus Christian Elling.

Former strategic research areas