The group brings together academics from the Social Sciences and Humanities who have a shared interest in the empirical study of contemporary religious and spiritual communities.

Follow the links below for information on individual staff and members.


Cristina Rocha 2019

Cristina Rocha
Professor, Director of Religion and Society Cluster

Global Pentecostalism; healing, spirituality and the New Age; Buddhism in the West; globalisation of religion; migration and transnationalism.

Jennifer Cheng August 2022  Jennifer Cheng
Lecturer in Sociology

Experiences of Muslim minorities in the West and their interaction with issues of racism and anti-racism, Islamophobia, multiculturalism and citizenship.     
Dr Selda Dagistanli, Religion and Society Research Centre

Selda Dagistanli
Director of Academic Programs: Criminology and Policing

Law and order politics and its effects on sentencing and punishment; ethnicity and the law through cultural defence; representations of (sexually) deviant Muslim masculinities; boundaries of inclusion/exclusion and actor networks and agendas in moral panics; populist victims' rights politics.
Kevin Dunn 2019

Kevin Dunn
Professor / Pro Vice Chancellor Research

Professor in Human Geography and Urban Studies, and commenced at Western in May 2008. He was formerly at the University of NSW (1995-2008), and the University of Newcastle (1991-1995). His areas of research include: immigration and settlement; Islam in Australia; the geographies of racism; and local government and multiculturalism. Recent books include Landscapes: Ways of Imagining the World (2003) and Introducing Human Geography: Globalisation, Difference and Inequality (2000). He is Lead Dean for Global Rankings at Western, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Provost of the Penrith campus.
Dr Mary Hawkins, Religion and Society Research Centre

Mary Hawkins
Associate Professor / Director of Academic Programs: Sociology and Anthropology

Religious and ethnic diversity in Southeast Asia; cultural traditions of Islam in Indonesia, specifically in Kalimantan; nations, ethnic groups and globalisation.

Doctor Helena Onnudottir, Religion and Society Research Centre

Helena Onnudottir
Lecturer / Academic Course Advisor: Social Sciences and Anthropology

Aboriginal Australia (esp. South-East Australia); Indigenous Peoples (culture, history and rights-based matters); Indigenous Peoples and Religious Changes; Gender and Sexuality/ies.
Kathleen Openshaw new 2022

Kathleen Openshaw
Lecturer Social Sciences

Kathleen’s main research interests are Pentecostalisms from the Global South, the spiritual lives of migrants and material religion

Dr Jan AliAdam Possamai
Professor / Deputy Dean School of Social Sciences
Popular Religion, Sociology of Islam, Social Theory and Religion, New Religious Movements, Contemporary Religion and Australian Aboriginal Peoples, Religion in Australia.
Dr Alphia Possamai-Inesedy. Religion and Society Research Centre

Alphia Possamai-Inesedy
Associate Professor / Director, Sydney City Campus

Sociology of reproduction; sociology of religion
Andrew McWilliam 2020

Professor Andrew McWilliam
Professor of Anthropology

His research focuses on the multi-dimensional aspects of rural livelihoods and adaptive traditions in the context of globalization and the pluralist embrace of religious faith practice.

Alex Norman

Dr Alex Norman
Senior Lecturer

Tourism Studies, Sociology of Religion, Contemporary Spirituality, Anthropology of Pilgrimage, Photography Theory, New Religious Movements, Women Studies in Religion, History of Religion and Meditation.

Adjunct Members

James Cox 

Professor James Cox
Honorary Professorial Fellow at Edinburgh University (School of Divinity)

Phenomenology of Religion; Theory and Method in the Study of Indigenous Religions; Area specialisations in Indigenous Cultures in Southern Africa, Alaska and Central Australia.

Yaghoob Foroutan

Dr Yaghoob Foroutan
Adjunct Fellow

Muslim Demography, Religious Identity, Religion and Gender

Affiliation: Associate Professor at University of Mazandaran & Research Associate at University of Waikato

Mark Hutchinson

Mark Hutchinson
Professor of History and Vice President (Development), Alphacrucis College

History of higher education; globalisation of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements; history of global Evangelicalism; Italian migration history; studies in comparative evangelicalism.
Sherene Idriss 

Sherene Idriss
Adjunct Researcher

Youth subcultures; intersections between religion, gender and identity practices.

Pedram Khosronejad 

Dr Pedram Khosronejad (opens in a new window)
Visiting Adjunct Associate Professor

Research and teaching has been interdisciplinary in scope, crosscutting sociocultural anthropology, visual anthropology and Shiite Islam. Interests include questions of war, martyrdom, and memory; sanctity, sacred topography, and pilgrimage; sacred art, material religion, and visual piety; gender, sexuality, and race. In particular, explore the ways in which religion, rituals and ceremonies, and material culture are bound up in as well as influenced and changed by wider political, social, and cultural trends.

Geir Presterudstuen, Religion and Society Research Centre

Geir Presterudstuen
Adjunct Fellow, University of BergenDepartment of Social Anthropology

Anthropology of Religious and Ritual Practice; Fiji; Pacific Island Communities; Ethnography; Gender and Sexualities; Post-Colonial Theory; Economic Anthropology; Monster anthropology.  (former WSU Lecturer in Anthropology)

Dr Arskal Salim, Religion and Society Research Centre

Arskal Salim
Senior Research Lecturer

Legal anthropology; Islamic legal theory; law and politics in Indonesian society; comparative constitutional law in Muslim countries; legal practices in Muslim communities.

Dr David Tittensor 

Dr David Tittensor
Adjunct Fellow
Research Interests: Religion and society, Muslim movements, religion and development, Turkish politics, and the wider Middle East.

Dr David Tittensor is an Adjunct Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University. His research interests are religion and society, Muslim movements, religion and development, Turkish politics, and the wider Middle East. He is a co-author of Religion and Change in Australia (Routledge, 2022), author of The House of Service: The Gülen Movement and Islam’s Third Way (Oxford University Press, 2014) and is co-editor of the series Muslims in Global Societies (Springer).

Firdaus Wajdi  Dr Firdaus Wajdi
Adjunct Researcher

Religion and Globalization, Indonesian Muslims in Australia, Transnational Religious Movement, Sufism in Indonesian Context, Islam in Indonesia, and Religion and Local Cultures.
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