Research

I have been involved in a variety of research projects, mostly concerned with religion in contemporary culture and society. My primary research focus has been on the role of religion within seemingly secular social spheres; I have carried out empirical research on the experiences of Muslims in Australia’s queer communities, on evangelical punk, heavy metal, and hip hop musicians in secular music scenes and youth cultures in America, Australia, Britain, and South Africa. I have also been involved in collaborative research through La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue (†2014) on Afghan-Australians and other minority communities in the context of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, and in comparative research on the governance of religious and cultural diversity in Australia and Turkey. The output from all these projects is indexed on the publications page, with links to the texts where available.

IMG_20180611_110629511More recently, my research focused on the relationship between race and class in South African Christianity, seeking to understand how religious morality is enacted in the everyday lives and cultural practices of middle-class South Africans, including creative “side-hustles” and congregational music. I published my findings in the book Race, Class and Christianity in South Africa in 2021. Between 2019 and 2021 I was also the Principal Investigator on a small project about documenting and promoting the profile of the study of Africa at the ANU and in the city of Canberra more broadly, with the support of DFAT.

Currently, I am beginning a study on Christianity and serious leisure, in essence, I am trying to get away from the zombie category of the Protestant work ethic, which persists in popular and scholarly discourse, and ask whether there such a thing as a Protestant leisure ethic. In societies that value self-expression above self-denial, I am interested in Christians’ “ordinary ethics” of labour and leisure, and to investigate this I am re-engaging with musicians and amateur athletes from my past research projects.