Ruth Illman’s research

Dr. Ruth Illman, docent


  • Docent (Associate Professor), Uppsala University, 2018
  • Docent (Associate Professor), Åbo Akademi University, 2006
  • Doctor of Theology (Jewish Studies), Åbo Akademi University, 2018
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Comparative religion), Åbo Akademi University, 2004
  • Master of Philosophy, Åbo Akademi University, 2000
  • Master of Theology, Åbo Akademi University, 2015

Current research

Curriculum Vitae (7/2022)

List of Publications (7/2022)

Keynotes and Conferences (7/2022)

My main research interests concern questions pertaining to cultural encounters and interreligious dialogue, ethnographic research methodology with cultural studies as well as contemporary Judaism. I am especially interested in the relationship between the arts (particularly music) and religion. Chronologically, I work predominantly with contemporary religion, combining ethnographic research methods with content analysis and approaches deriving from the philosophy of religion.

Since 2016, I have been, together with Associate Professor Svante Lundgren (Lund University), editor of the scholarly journal Nordisk judaistik / Scandinavian Jewish Studies.

I am also the director of the research project Boundaries of Jewish Identities in Contemporary Finland finansed by the Polin Institute.

Research fields and issues I have worked with include:

  • Contemporary Judaism: Ethnographic research on vernacular Judaism in Finland. Also progressive Judaism in today’s Europe with particular focus on the role of music as an instigator of change in contemporary identity processes.
  • Interreligious dialogue: Ethnographic research on interreligious dialogue especially in the world of art.
  • Religion and the arts: Ethnographic and theoretical research on art and religion, religion in art and art (especially music) as a platform for expressing religious identities.
  • Dialogue philosophy: Interpreting Jewish dialogue philosophy and its importance for cultural and interreligious dialogue in practice.
  • Religion, diversity and change in Finland: Ethnographic, theoretical and methodological research on religious diversity in contemporary Finland.
  • Ethnographic research on religion and methodology: Methodological reflections on hermeneutics and methodology for contemporary ethnographic research on religion.

For information about publications, collaborations and expert assignments, see the Åbo Akademi University Research Portal AboCRIS