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, and earlier in my career on how religious values are re-imagined and practiced in contemporary financial and consumer capitalism. 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 working on two interrelated projects, firstly on the old and new literatures of the Lebanese diaspora, inspired by the upcoming 100th anniversary of the publication of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, and also the emergence of a really strong body of semi-autobiographical Lebanese-Australian literature that touches on important sociological and religious issues. Secondly, drawing together analysis of coming-of-age narratives from South Africa and Australia within the framework of social scientific theories of “spiritual insecurity” and “suffering subjectivity” for a book project, exploring what it means to emerge into adulthood in hyper-diverse societies that offer a proliferation of sometimes half-remembered (or half-baked) religious and secular worldviews.