Funding has been secured for a new Surveillance and Religion Research Network based at the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews, led by Dr Eric Stoddart (St Andrews) as Principal Investigator and Dr Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson (Stockholm School of Theology) as Co-Investigator.
The Arts & Humanities Research Council is funding this research network that has the principal aim of bringing together researchers and practitioners from disciplines as diverse as sociology, criminology, theology and religious studies to pool knowledge, share ideas and generate new research initiatives around surveillance and religion.
David Lyon, Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario welcomed the announcement:
“The excellent news of research funding augurs very well for our fuller, deeper understanding of religious and cultural meanings of the very rapid growth of manifold forms of surveillance today. My warmest congratulations!”
Esther D. Reed, Associate Professor Theological Ethics, University of Exeter also greeted the news:
“The increasing use of surveillance technology by governments, businesses, universities, and many other institutions, has given rise to many new moral issues and conflicts. The Surveillance and Religion Network is set to become an important centre for all who want to shape and engage debate in this area.”
Eric Stoddart explained the Network’s activities that will take place over the next two years: “Three workshops are planned in order that participants may provoke and fuel original ways of thinking about the interplay between surveillance and religion.”
One symposium will focus on security. A second will focus on the use of surveillance by religious communities. A third will unpack the wider contribution of religious ethics to 21st century surveillance. The workshops will generate proposals for specific research projects and, through the participation of stakeholders from religious communities, the proposals will be grounded in the issues experienced by people in their everyday lives.
Established and new scholars will be joined at the workshops by leaders from faith communities (including, but not limited to, Jewish, Muslim and Christian) in the U.K. and also from other countries, such as Sweden. Each workshop will have a public lecture – later to be made available online.
Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at Stockholm School of Theology acknowledged the innovative nature of this network:
“It is a great opportunity to develop these issues which has not been much researched before. This project will open new important issues about contemporary political and religious questions, not least Human Rights issues as well as Inter-religious and theological ones.”