Sadler Seminar Series 2016/17, Centre for Religion and Public Life, University of Leeds

Religions and Public Health: bridges and barriers to improving global health outcomes


This seminar series will interrogate methodological and theoretical questions about the complex ways that religious world-views and institutions shape understandings of and outcomes related to health. We will ask:

  • How can we develop better translations across different paradigms for thinking about wellbeing (e.g. from the spiritual/holistic to the biomedical)? What are implications/consequences for health providers and health seekers?
  • Where desired, how can we increase PH awareness amongst religious actors, including with respect to contributions they already make, as well as linking them more effectively to PH systems in their localities?
  • How can we be open about the difficulties/chasms between religious and ‘secular’ actors – where can these be reconciled, and where can they not?

Through careful selection of contributors, both academic and non-academic, and drawing upon the University of Leeds’s strong traditions in the study of health, the research agenda we develop will clearly focus on the most relevant questions to enable us to understand the opportunities and limits for engagements between religions and public health globally, incorporating qualitative as well as quantitative methods.


 Seminar 1 – Religions and Public Health: Outlining an Agenda

Date: Thursday October 27th 2016, 2-4 pm

Location: Worsley Seminar Room (9.50)

The aim of this first seminar is to bring interested parties together to begin to examine what a research agenda on ‘religions and public health’ might look like. The seminar will be led by Professor Emma Tomalin and Dr Joannna Sadgrove, who will briefly outline their work to date this area and explain why they have convened this seminar series. We invite individuals from across different university faculties to participate.

Seminar 2 – The Multiple World View Encounter: Health, Religions and HIV

Date: Wednesday November 9th 2016, 1-3 pm

Location: Blenheim Terrace Seminar Room (G.02) House No. 11-14


 Seminar 3 – Religions and Public Health: Sharing and Learning across Diverse Geographical Settings (Date/location TBC)

Seminar 4 – Religions and Public Health: Austerity, Neo-liberalism and welfare – shifting roles for faith actors (Date/location TBC)

 Seminar 5 – Religions and Public Health: Bridging gaps, Recognising Barriers (Date/location TBC)

 Seminar 6 – Religions and Public Health: Mental Health (Date/location TBC)

 Seminar 7 – Religions and Public Health: Social Isolation and its Impact on Health (Date/location TBC)

 Seminar 8 – Religions and Public Health: End of Life Care (Date/location TBC)

 Seminar 9 – Religions and Public Health: Developing and Integrating Quantitative, Spatial and Qualitative Methods (Date/location TBC)

 Seminar 10 – Places of Worship as ‘Healthy Settings’ (Date/location TBC)

For further information please contact:

Dr Joanna Sadgrove –

Professor Emma Tomalin-



BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group (Socrel) Annual Conference, Leeds 2017



Wednesday 12th July – Friday 14th July 2017

University of Leeds

On the Edge? Centres and Margins in the Sociology of Religion

makkah sky line






Keynote Speakers:

Professor Bryan Turner (City University of New York)

Professor Kim Knott (University of Lancaster)

Professor Philip Mellor (University of Leeds)

(Two further keynotes, TBC)


The Sociology of Religion, as a distinct sub-discipline, has had a complex relationship with ‘mainstream’ sociology including experiencing periods of centrality and marginalisation. Beginning as a chief concern of the founding fathers of the discipline, but later relegated to almost insignificance until the so-called ‘resurgence of religion’, these changing fortunes have contributed directly to scholarship that can be dynamic, multi-faceted and responsive. In our search to understand the roles for religion in contemporary society, as scholars we frequently draw on multi-disciplinary methodologies and share a disciplinary platform with geography, politics, social policy, theology, anthropology, history and literature, to name but a few.  But where does this leave the sociology of religion as a distinct discipline?

The purpose of this conference is to investigate the boundaries and borders of sociologies of religion in an expansive and inclusive way. We want to ask, what do the centres of the sociology of religion look like in the 21st Century, and where are the margins and borders? Where are the new, and innovative subjects, methodologies and collaborations in our subject and how are they shaping the discipline?  How well do Sociologies of Religion intersect with other sociologies, such as of class, migration, ethnicity, sexuality and gender, and what are the effects? What about the geographical centres and margins of this historically Western-orientated sub-discipline, in our ever-changing world characterised by postcoloniality, globalisation and transnationalism? To what extent have any alternative Sociologies of Religion from the “edge”, to use a term proposed by Bender et al (2013), re-interpreted or re-configured the concerns of the centre? Importantly, what light does the Sociology of Religion shed on the more general study of centres and margins in religious and social settings/institutions and identities/subjectivities? Ultimately we want to question where these expansive and multi-directional boundaries leave us as ‘sociologists of religion’ and as a distinct study group and highlight the challenges and the opportunities.

We invite you to engage in these conference questions from your particular area of research.

To deliver a paper, please send an abstract of no more than 250 words, alongside a biographical note of no more than 50 words. We will also be accepting a limited number of panel proposals. To deliver a panel, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words alongside a biographical note of no more than 50 words for each contributor.

Please send abstracts to the attention of the conference organizers: Dr Caroline Starkey (University of Leeds) and Dr Jasjit Singh (University of Leeds) at

Abstracts must be submitted by 9th December 2016.

Conference Bursaries:

A limited number of bursaries are available to support postgraduate, early career, low income or unwaged SocRel members to present at the conference. Please visit for instructions, and to download an application form, and submit your bursary application along with your abstract by 9th December 2016.

All presenters must be members of SocRel.

Selected authors will be asked to contribute to an edited volume.

Key Dates:

Abstract submission closes: 9th December 2016

Decision notification: 20th January 2017

Presenter registration closes: 10th March 2017

Early bird registration closes:  2nd June 2017

Registration closes: 24 June 2016


Please note that after Friday, 2nd June 2017, a £50 late registration fee will apply to all bookings.

Should you have other questions about the conference please also contact the conference organisers, Dr Caroline Starkey (University of Leeds) and Dr Jasjit Singh (University of Leeds) at

For further details, visit the SocRel website. For further details about the BSA visit









An Evening Research Event!

….with Presenters Nechama Hadari and Nancy Tan

When? 3-5pm, Thursday 3 November

Where? The Cinema Lecture Theatre (Room 2.31), Clothworkers North Building, University of Leeds

Drinks and light kosher refreshments will be served

About the Presenters:

Nechama Hadari holds a doctorate in Religion and Theology from the University of Manchester. She has written on the rabbinic philosophy underlying problems in contemporary Jewish divorce law; the halakhic status of coercive treatment of anorexia nervosa sufferers and, most recently, post-Holocaust theology and the problems of trying to use Holocaust theology as a paradigmatic Jewish response to conflict and atrocity.

Nancy Tan is Associate Professor in Hebrew Bible in the Divinity School of Chung Chi College at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She works on interpretations of women in the Hebrew Bible. Her current interests lie in promoting Contextual Interpretations for the marginalized in her community. She is at present working on a project of re-interpreting the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28) for the disabled, as well as on a bilingual book on feminist interpretations of the Bible for Hong Kong. She is on sabbatical leave and holds the post of Visiting Research Fellow with the University of Leeds.

About the Presentations:

Nechama Hadari’s presentation, ‘Women, War Crimes and Jewish Texts’ will take as its starting point two Hebrew Bible descriptions of conduct during war: descriptions we might, in our present-day context, find ‘challenging’ or ‘problematic’. The first is the hypothetical description in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, of what should happen when a soldier of the victorious Israelite army finds a ‘beautiful woman’ among the vanquished enemy captives. The second is the infamous narrative (in 2 Samuel) in which David sees and takes a beautiful woman who happens to be the wife of one of his own soldiers. Hadari uses these two texts as a basis for exploring whether or not the Jewish ethical and legal tradition has anything to contribute to contemporary discussion of ‘war crimes’ – including a question which seems to have resurfaced recently: whether a political or military leader is answerable to his men for what he asks them to do when an order he gives is morally or strategically questionable.

Nancy Tan’s presentation, ‘Towards a Feminist Hermeneutics of Genesis 1:26-28 for People with Social Communication Disorder’, explores disability theology. This theology has developed out of feminist criticism and resists the marginalization of disabled communities. And yet, few disability theologians engage with biblical texts from a feminist biblical perspective. This paper challenges patriarchal biblical interpretations that disability theologians have used to define the image of God as exclusively relational. Tan argues, instead, from a feminist hermeneutic of resistance by examining scholarly approaches to the ‘image of God’ (Genesis 1:26-28) from the perspective of those with impairment in terms of social communication.

This will be a stimulating and thought-provoking event for all those interested in biblical and gender criticism, Jewish and Christian interpretation. Please publicise widely!

Sex in the Family – new book by Dr Johanna Stiebert

We are really pleased to announce that the new book by Dr Johanna Stiebert (University of Leeds) First Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible, has been published by Bloomsbury and is available to buy.  As the publishers explain: 

“‘Incest’ refers to illegal sexual relations between family members. Its precise contours, however, are culturally specific. Hence, an illegal incestuous union in one social context may be a legal close-kin union in another. First-degree sexual unions, between a parent and child, or between siblings, are most widely prohibited and abhorred. This book discusses all overt and covert first-degree incest relations in the Hebrew Bible and also probes the significance of gaps and what these imply about projected sexual and social values. As the dominant opinion on the origin of first-degree incest continues to be shaped, new voices such as those of queer and post-feminist criticism have joined the conversation.

It navigates not only the incest laws of Leviticus and the narratives of Lot and his daughters and of Amnon and Tamar but pursues subtler intimations of first-degree sexual unions, such as between Adam and his (absent but arguably implied) mother, Haran and Terah’s wife, Ham and Noah. In pursuing the psycho-social values that may be drawn from the Hebrew Bible regarding first-degree incest, this book will provide a thorough review of incest studies from the early 20th century onward and explain and assess the contribution of very recent critical approaches from queer and post-feminist perspectives”.

The book is available from the publishers (at the moment, with a 10% discount) and other book sellers now!