Introducing the Network: Anna Strhan

24 05 2013

[Anna is a member of the network steering committee, a sociologist of religion at the University of Kent, and author of Levinas, Subjectivity, Education.]

My interests in the relations between philosophy and lived religious practice were initially stimulated by a paper in the background to modern theology as part of my undergraduate degree, which examined how philosophical and theological writings emerged in relation to wider cultural and social changes, and my MA in Literature, Religion and Philosophy took forward this interest in the relations between culture, philosophy and religion. My first PhD was primarily philosophical, exploring Emmanuel Levinas’s understanding of the nature of human subjectivity, ethics and knowledge, and considering how his ideas of teaching and his work within Jewish education opened up rich resources for understanding the meaning of education. I situated the development of his philosophical ideas in relation to the specific cultural conditions and context of political horror that his work responded to, and addressed how these ideas raise concrete ethical and political questions about the nature and practices of education today.
Following this, I decided to move into the empirical study of religion, and undertook a second PhD, which was an ethnographic study of the everyday lives of British evangelical Christians. This took forward my philosophical interests in the nature of meaning, morality and the formation of subjectivities in modernity, and addressed these issues through examining how forms of Christian practice respond to experiences of fragmentation in modern urban contexts, and the forms of subjectivity and ethical practice implied in this.w these ideas raise concrete ethical and political questions about the nature and practices of education today.

My work has therefore ended up being in conversation with literatures in philosophy, sociology and anthropology of religion, and I am looking forward to discussions about the interrelations of these as part of this research network. I am particularly interested in exploring how philosophy can help focus the lenses of empirical scholarship to address how forms of religious practice are both shaped by and respond to human existential concerns as well as the mundane conditions of everyday life. I am also keen to consider how philosophical approaches to ethics, language, knowledge and subjectivity can draw out methodological questions about what it is to study contemporary forms of religious and secular life. I am excited to be part of the network and to have the opportunity to discuss these and other questions about how philosophical work can relate to and deepen understanding of lived religion.



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