The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
Dr Jessica Frazier
Lecturer in Religious Studies
BA Hons. (Cambridge), M.St. (Oxford), Ph.D (Cambridge)
Jessica has just joined our department this year and has been an amazing addition to the teaching staff. He lecturers are filled with life stories and adventures from her own work and travels, she loves her subject and her teaching is excellent. She has impressed all of us and is an inspiration to us all.
I am a Lecturer in Religious Studies at Kent, and my main interest is in the nature of religion, and the study of Hindu traditions. In particular, I am interested in a better understanding of the reflective processes at the heart of religion. I am currently working on Religion and Experience, a book on approaches to religious experience, and a project exploring new understandings of Hindu culture, philosophy and theology.
I am also a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies since 2005, where I am the founder and Managing Editor of the Journal of Hindu Studies which is published by Oxford University Press.back to top
I have completed an authored and edited book for Continuum, The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies, which seeks to advance our approach to studying Hinduism by applying new perspectives on the History of Hindu Studies, different disciplines, regional perspectives, critical issues in contemporary study, and brings together a range of scholars on key themes. Information on the Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies can be found here:
The Journal of Hindu Studies brings together current research in a shared conversation that illuminates critical issues such as the hermeneutics of Hindu texts (2008), the history and historiography of Hinduism (2009), Hindu arts and aesthetics (2010), Hindu conceptions of reason and rationality (2011), and approaches to Hindu ritual and practice (2012). Further information on the Journal of Hindu Studies can be found .
I am also working on an edited volume in the area of Indian Philosophy, Thinking Inside the Box: The Concept of a Category in Indian Philosophy, and chapters on Hindu Arts, Hindi Cinema (controversially known to most as 'Bollywood'), Hindu Natural Theology, Hindu Atheism, and the effects of cultural synthesis on Hindu theology.back to top
Religion, Experience and Subjectivity
Under the umbrella of the Religious Experience, Subjectivity and Self project at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, I am currently completing Religion and Experience: Subjectivity in the Study of Religion, a book exploring the ways in which Phenomenology, Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology look at the private 'inner experience' of religious individuals. The Study of Religion as a discipline has turned towards an emphasis on body, practice, and society, and this book aims to restore the notion that subjective experience lies at the core of religion. While private experience is elusive – difficult to communicate or observe – nevertheless it is key to understanding the subjective significance of all ideas and practices. It is in the subjective experience of individuals that religious meaning and value are mediated, and without reference to that experience, religious practitioners can appear to be mere automata in the social 'machine'. This book aims to overcome methodological difficulties in exploring this inner world by looking at strategies in the work of classic and contemporary thinkers (Frazer, Otto, Geertz, Levi-Strauss, Freud, Jung, Boyer, Durkheim, Smart, etc.).
Connected with this is the MA in Religious Experience and Mysticism at the University of Kent, and a planned series of seminars exploring models of religious experience and subjectivity across disciplines and cultures.
More on the OCHS Religious Experience, Subjectivity and Self project can be found here - http://ochs.org.uk/research/ochs-religious-subjectivity-project
Generative Religion: Innovation in Hindu Thought
A key theme running through my current work is a desire to understand the processes that go on at the heart of religious thinking – generating a better understanding of how theology happens, both in classical thinkers, and contemporary communities. Theology is not a fixed body of thought, but a complex and culturally rich religious process that is constantly taking place - through cultural synthesis, adaptation to new situations, emotional response, or a fresh style of reasoning. This has inspired plans to pursue a research project on Generative Theology, exploring contexts of theological innovation in Early Modern Hinduism and the Contemporary Hindu Diaspora
Seminars in Spring and Summer and a planned 2012 symposium will explore the generation of new theologies in Early Modern and Contemporary Hindu contexts. In my own work, I am scoping ethnographic research into implicit ‘grass-roots’ theologies emerging through the innovations of British, Caribbean, and Malaysian Hindus.back to top
I also consult with media bodies on Religion and Hinduism, working with the BBC on its series on Gandhi, and on other documentaries and radio programmes - for a lively discussion of the Bhagavad Gita between Melvyn Bragg, Prof Julius Lipner, Prof Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, and myself on the BBC's In Our Time programme.
I recently finished a report for the Hindu-Christian Forum of Britain, Bridges and Barriers to Hindu-Christian Relations, in which the views of fifty Hindus and Christians are cited on topics ranging from relations between the communities, to the nature of religious truth, and the future of religious dialogue.back to top