Keynote 1 Vineeta Sinha – ‘Religion, Sexuality and Commodification

Social scientists and historians have noted the ubiquity and inevitability of commodification processes. Scholars of religion and sexuality have queried not if, but how commodification processes and the allied practices of consumerism and consumption have mutually impacted each other. Markets and marketplaces certainly precede modernity and industrial capitalism. Historicizing the relationships between religion, sexuality and commodification processes would help to tease out the ways in which these are intertwined. A critical analytical move in rethinking consumption processes in the domains of religion and sexuality rests in recognizing their interface with material and visual culture. The turn to visuality, materiality and popular culture –particularly in acknowledging what has been called the ‘agency of materiality’ and problematizing the binary of ‘ materiality’/’non-materiality’ itself – open new

research vistas. These conceptual shifts are crucial in problematizing the regnant reductionist moralising strains of consumer culture and consumption discourses and their destructive and immoral effects on domains of sexuality and religion.


Professor Vineeta Sinha is Head of Department at the Department of Sociology as well as at the South Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Signapore. She obtained her M.Soc.Sci from the NUS and her MA and PhD in Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University. Her research and teaching interests includes Hindu religiosity in the Diaspora; religion-state encounters; religion, commodification and consumption practices; history and practice of sociology; critique of concepts and categories in the social sciences; rethinking the teaching of classical sociological theory. 

 She has published articles in a range of peer-reviewed journals and the following monographs: A New God in the Diaspora? Muneeswaran Worship in Contemporary Singapore (Singapore University Press & Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2005); Religion and Commodification: Merchandising Diasporic Hinduism (Routledge, 2010); Religion-State Encounters in Hindu Domains: From the Straits Settlements to Singapore (Springer, 2011). She is the author of the book titled ‘Indians’, “a statement about the Indian community and how it has fared since independence in different fields like economy, culture and politics”. She is Vice-President (Publications) of the International Sociological Association (from 2014-2018) and co-editor of the Asian Journal of Social Science (Brill), the Monograph Series, Social Sciences in Asia (Brill) and the Routledge International Library of Sociology 

Keynote 2 Peter Nynäs –  ‘Gender normativities and religion among young adults today’

The aspect of sex and gender has clearly proven to be one of the more relevant issues in the study of religion. Still, in contrast to many general findings (e.g. a higher degree of religiosity among women), many studies simultaneously address the relevance of sensitivity to cultural variations and intersectionality. Additionally, how sex and gender differences intertwine with religion change over time: since some decades ago global movements have increasingly affected our perceptions and attentiveness of gender issues and sexualities.

In this presentation, I will bring to the surface some observations about how gender and sex on the one hand, and religion, secularity and spirituality on the other hand, come together among young adults globally. In the Centre of Excellence in research “Young adults and religion in a global perspective” (YARG) we have explored forms of religiosities and spiritualities in universities and colleges in thirteen locations around the world. Our mixed method approach has included a range of ways of being attentive to gender and sex, but with a sensitivity for religion and spirituality this presentations centers around the question “What is the place for gender normativities among young adults globally today?”


Peter Nynäs is Professor of Comparative Religion at#bo Akademi University and Director for the Centres of Excellences in Research Post-Secular Culture and a Changing Religious Landscape in Finland (2010–14) and Young Adults and Religion in a Global Perspective (2015–18). As part of these projects, Prof. Nynäs has developed a particular interest in religious change and contemporary religious subjectivities, combining his interest for both psychology and sociology of religion alongside is interest for research in gender and sexuality. He has published many articles in a range of peer-reviewed journals such as “LGBT Activism and Reflexive Religion: A Case Study from Finland in the Light of Social Movements Theory” (Journal of Contemporary Religion 2015:3, with M. Lassander). In addition to articles he has edited several volumes such as On the Outskirts of “the Church”: Diversities, Fluidities and New Spaces of Religion in Finland (with R. Illman and T. Martikainen, LIT-Verlag, 2015) and, Religion, Gender and Sexuality in Everyday Life (with A. Yip, Ashgate 2012). Among the forthcoming volumes, we find Sensitizing ‘religious’ variety in a global perspective: between universalism and particularism (with R. Illman, N. Novis and R. Fernandez, Quinox 2019).