The Donner Research Prize 2019 to Oriol Poveda Guillén

The Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History in Turku has awarded Dr Oriol Poveda Guillén the 2019 prize for outstanding research into religion. Dr Poveda is awarded for his book According to whose will: The entanglements of gender & religion in the lives of transgender Jews with an Orthodox background (Uppsala University, 2017). The book, which has been presented as a doctoral thesis in Sociology of religion at Uppsala University explores questions of gender and religion in the lives of transgender participants with a Jewish Orthodox background. Through biographical in-depth interviews, conducted in both Israel and the USA, Poveda elucidates the entanglements of gender and religion in the participants’ lives before, during and after the transition. Special attention is given to the negotiations of gendered religious practices during these three periods described by the participants, something which has often proven challenging in the strictly gendered Jewish Orthodox communities. Poveda has also aimed to develop the theoretical field in dialogue with the participants in the study to discover possible paths towards religious change and increased openness towards transgender members in the Jewish Orthodox communities.

The Board of the Institute notes the following in its prize motivation:

“With his study, Dr Poveda sheds light on a highly neglected are of research on religion, namely the lives of transgender persons within the frameworks of normative religious traditions. The work is attentive and sensitive to the complex and lived human experiences that are reflected in this research. Poveda further transforms these with a high level of critical methodological consciousness, relevant theoretical observations and the result stands out as innovative. With inspiration from actor-network theory, Poveda develops Saba Mahmood’s contribution to the field of research on religion and gender further and addresses the possibility for a renewed comprehension of e.g. agency and subject. The research also broadens and nuances our understanding of expressions of religion that are usually thought of as traditionalist, orthodox or conservative”

The Donner Institute Prize is awarded annually for outstanding research into religion conducted at a Nordic university. It is intended for researchers in the field of religious studies for a significant and relatively newly published monograph or article in print or digital form. The prize sum is 5,000 Euros.

The award-winning book is found at:

On behalf of the Donner Institute board,

Åbo, 7 October, 2019

Tage Kurtén, Chair

Ruth Illman, Secretary