Today, the 1st of February 2013, is the starting date of my new job: I join the University of Leeds as a lecturer in African Christianity. In this position I will be involved in teaching within the Theology & Religious Studies (TRS) programmes of the School of Philoshophy, Religion and History of Science in the Faculty of Arts. I will immediately start teaching, as the second semester of the current academic year has already started. In this semester I will be teaching the module Varieties of Religion in Modern African Societies, and co-teaching with Dr Kevin Ward the module Race and Religion in Southern Africa. Furthermore, I will contribute to the module Contemporary Issues in Theology, Religion and Gender that is co-ordinated by Dr Emma Tomalin.
In addition to teaching, I will continue my research on issues of gender and sexuality in contemporary African Christianities. In recent years my research focus has been on transformations of masculinity in African Christian contexts, and the major output of this project will be published this month by Ashgate: Transforming Masculinities in African Christianity: Gender Controversies in Times of AIDS. Though I have an ongoing interest in religion and masculinities in Africa and will continue working on this, my future research will mainly focus on the role of Christianity as a public religion in the controversies about homosexuality in Africa. Thanks to a research grant from the American Academy of Religion, later this year I will be in Zambia to work on the project ‘Homosexuality, Christianity and National Identity in Postcolonial Zambia’.
The post of lecturer in African Christianity stands in a long tradition in Leeds. The university has an interdisciplinary Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) that brings together scholars with an active interest in Africa from across different schools and faculties at the University of Leeds. In the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Africa has been a research and teaching focus for a long time: it was firmly established in the 1980s-90s by Professor Adrian Hastings and further developed by Dr Kevin Ward. I feel honoured to become part of this academic tradition and to develop it in new directions, and I look forward to the collaboration and exchange with other colleagues in the university working in the fields of religious and African Studies.