ASU students to conduct religion and conflict research throughout world with center's scholarships

By

Terry Williams

How do religion and gender intersect with domestic violence in Greece and Fiji? What can we learn about peace building from the Emerging Church Movement in the American South? Can the visual culture of yoga be a source of conflict resolution between Muslim and Hindu communities?

These are some of the questions that recipients of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s prestigious Friends of the Center research scholarships are exploring this summer. The Friends of the Center awards are granted annually to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research on religion, conflict and peace studies.

On May 3, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict hosted its annual student luncheon to celebrate these award recipients and to acknowledge the incredible work of ASU students who are investigating the complex dynamics between religion and conflict.

“The generous donations we receive from private donors make these scholarships possible,” says John Carlson, acting director of the center and associate professor of religious studies.

“The commitment of these individuals to advancing the center’s research and education programs allow us to help students travel around the world and work on a diverse range of projects.”

The 2016 winners of the Friends of the Center awards include five graduate students and four undergraduates, and they will pursue their work in countries throughout the world including Fiji, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and the U.S.

James Edmonds, a PhD student in religious studies, will travel to Indonesia to do ethnographic fieldwork on the Islamic performer Habib Syech whose popularity and message are significant for understanding counter-extremist movements.

Roopa Singh, a PhD student in justice studies, will travel to Washington, D.C., to conduct research at the Smithsonian that seeks to rediscover the long histories of Hindu-Muslim cooperation and peace through yoga. 



Mahshid Zandi, a PhD student in religious studies, will research the interconnectedness of religion and politics in the case of the Iran-Iraq War as it is presented by Tehran’s Holy Defense Museum.

Two students will conduct research on how religion impacts domestic violence. Viviane Linos, a master's student in women and gender studies, will spend three months in Greece exploring the relationship between Greek married women and violent partners and how religion can work as a site of resistance. Jennifer Swicegood, an undergraduate and psychology major, will attend a Humans Rights Frameworks Training on Domestic Violence, offered by the Women’s Crisis Center in Suva, Fiji. There she will learn how this center approaches religion and violence, and she will have an opportunity to interact with women seeking help.

Terry Shoemaker, a PhD student in religious studies, will travel to the American South to investigate the progressive Christian organization called the Emerging Church. His research will look at how this global Christian movement negotiates social justice and interfaith engagement.

Ryan Schneidewind, a political science major, will travel to Turkey to explore some of the religious dimensions of Turkey’s refugee crisis. Schneidewind will look at how the influx of Christian and Muslim refugees has affected Turkey, as well as how the Turkish religious culture has influenced the refugees.

Connor Murphy, a double major in journalism and political science, will be conducting research for his honors thesis on religion and freedom of the press in Pakistan though an internship in Washington, D.C., and research in Pakistan.

Catie Carson, a psychology major, will travel to Tajikistan as part of the America’s Unofficial Ambassadors Program. The program, which involves peace building through cultural exchange and service in Islamic communities around the world, will provide Carson with an opportunity to make a difference at a grassroots level.

In the fall each of the award winners will report back to the center with reflections on their summer projects and the future of their research.

In addition to presenting the 2016 Friends of the Center research scholarships at the awards lunch, the center also recognized students who completed the 2015-16 undergraduate research fellows program, and those who were awarded the 2015-16 certificates in religion and conflict. Learn more .

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is an interdisciplinary research unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs.