The Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History in Turku has awarded Dr Henni Alava the 2018 prize for outstanding research into religion. Dr Alava is awarded for her book ’There is Confusion.’ The Politics of Silence, Fear and Hope in Catholic and Protestant Northern Uganda (2017). The book, which has been presented as a doctoral thesis in Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, deals with religious groups and politics in post-war northern Uganda and combines analytical models from the social sciences with a strong and well-formulated perspective on the role of religion in the current context. Alava’s research highlights the various roles that religious institutions can play in areas undergoing armed conflicts, such as the deeply religious region of Acholiland in northern Uganda, where Catholic and Protestant churches are central social, political and spiritual actors.
The Board of the Institute notes the following in its prize motivation:
“Focusing on the individual in a larger socio-religious context, Alava describes how silence, fear and hope are created in relation to the abuse of war and to post-war uncertainties. ’There is confusion’ is written in the borderland between social sciences and the study of religions in a broad perspective and offers a strong theoretical contribution. The dissertation is based on thorough ethnographic fieldwork. One of its great strengths is the amount of material and author’s ability to use this in a way that is both scientifically convincing and narratively eloquent. The ethnographic method employed and the high level of reflexivity conveys a strong sense of intimacy with the study’s materials and persons to the reader. The book is an engaging read and at the same time important. Alava demonstrates an apt ability to grasp major theory debates relating to ethnography, theology and social sciences today and exemplifies these with her own research data.”
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: https://helda.helsinki.fi//bitstream/handle/10138/231987/thereisc.pdf?sequence=1
On behalf of the Donner Institute Board
Åbo/Turku, 1 October 2018
Tage Kurtén, Chairperson
Ruth Illman, Secretary