Scholarship holders 2019









MA Karoliina Dahl, Comparative Religion, Åbo Akademi University (12 months)

Karoliina Dahl studies young adults and their views of life in a qualitative and longitudinal study of 20 university students from different parts of Finland. The focus of the study is on subjectivities, views of life and changes in these during a period of two years. The study is based on a mixed method approach and includes a survey, Faith-Q-Sort (FQS), and semi-structured interviews. The FQS is a relatively new instrument designed to measure the variety of worldviews. Participants sort 101 statements according to how well these describe the person doing the sort. All 20 participants have filled in the survey, and participated the FQS and the interviews twice (in 2016 and 2018).

The aim of the thesis is to contribute to the understanding of how young adults form their views of life. The study shows how subjectivities and views of life are negotiated and constructed in relation to the surrounding world. In addition, the study analyzes how young adults view their future through experiences, understandings, and negotiations of their views of life.









M.Ed. Maximilian Broberg, Sociology of Religion, Uppsala university (6 months)

My PhD-project is called Stay Awhile and Listen: Teachers, Religion, and Authority. In this project, I am studying how teachers of religious education (RE) relate to, and are influenced by, various forms of media and media discourses. The aim is to gain a deeper understanding of how various media come to influence the shape and content of the RE subject.

 In Sweden RE is part of the mandatory school system, and the RE subject itself is integrative and non-confessional, and not under the influence of any religious organizations. Hence, it is one of the primary contexts in which the vast majority of youths in Sweden gain access to knowledge on religion. Using mediatization theory as a theoretical point of departure, I argue that various media dynamics have come to influence the teaching of RE in Sweden. Through a national survey, classroom observations, and interviews with teachers, I seek to untangle the consequences of this influence, how it relates to teachers’ authority, and to what extent teachers are able to challenge and problematize the structural influence media brings to their classrooms.

Apart from being a PhD-candidate in the sociology of religion at Uppsala University, I am also trained as an upper secondary school teacher of religion and English, hence my interest in educational issues. As a gamer I am also interested in issues of gamification of education.









MA Ernils Larsson, History of Religions, Uppsala university (6 months)

Ernils Larsson is a PhD candidate in the history of religions at Uppsala University. He holds a BA/MA in the history of religions from Uppsala university, with a minor in Japanese studies. He also holds an MA in international relations from Waseda University. Larsson’s research deals primarily with questions about religion and politics in postwar Japan.

In his thesis, tentatively titled Legally Religion? Negotiating Religious Freedom and Shinto Exceptionalism in Japanese Courts of Law, Larsson explores how Japanese courts of law have interpreted the category of religion in the 1947 constitution. He primarily focuses on how diverging normative understandings of what religion is and is not clash in Japanese courts of law, but he also studies the ideological currents informing the discussion. In particular his work deals with the issue of how Shinto in some contexts is defined as something more than religion, and how this mirrors the larger debate about Japan’s relationship to its modern history. The question of whether Shinto should be viewed as religion or as culture and tradition is politically charged, something which becomes apparent by how the categories are debated in courts of law.









MA Karen Swartz, Comparative Religion, Åbo Akademi University (6 months)

Religious movements function like any organization founded by an entrepreneur but are rarely studied from a perspective informed by organizational theory and theories of entrepreneurship. They, too, have life cycles that, in addition to a formative period, can also consist of periods of consolidation, expansion, and decline. As its empirical case, my project investigates the situation of an organization currently facing a number of challenges: the Anthroposophical Society. In particular, I focus on the Swedish branch of the organization, Antroposofiska sällskapet i Sverige and the stories members tell about the organization itself while attempting to deal with change. Here, “change” refers to changes in the institutional structure of the organization itself and to changes in society in general (which I contextualize as informed by neoliberal currents) concerning such factors as the emerging predominance of individualistic approaches to religion and religiosity. Of particular interest to me and my work are the functions, variety, trajectories, and interplay of these stories as they are created, disseminated, dismantled, and recycled by competing voices in a web of shifting alliances.









MA, M.P.S. Laura Wickström, Comparative Religion, Åbo Akademi University (6 months)

My research focuses on the connection between Islam and ecology. The purpose is to present Islamic perspectives on ecology. What currents of environmental thinking can be found within Islam today and what within the tradition can support environmental friendly thinking? Who are the central actors and how do they engage in environmentalism? Furthermore, I take an interest in how Islamic eco-theology has developed and how social structures influence environmental friendly practices. The essential theoretical framework falls within sociology of religion with focus on legal development, urbanization and global change. The four main themes in the research are transnationalism, social movements, ecology and religion as well as religious and secular. The material primarily consists of literature studies and fieldwork conducted mainly in Turkey and Lebanon. In Turkey I interviewed representatives of the civil society and of the ruling political party as well as religious leaders. I worked as the research-coordinator at the Finnish Institute in the Middle East (FIME) in Beirut, Lebanon, for a year. FIME is a research institute operating across the Middle East and cooperating both with Finnish and local universities. This gave me the opportunity to deepen my insights and to network in the region.