Nelly van Doorn appointed Extraordinary Professor for Freedom of Religion or Belief

After holding the extraordinary chair for Muslim-Christian Relations at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) for many years, Nelly van Doorn is now Extraordinary Professor for Freedom of Religion or Belief at the Faculty of Religion and Theology.

08/07/2019 | 12:02 PM

The name of the chair has been changed to reflect a new focus on a topic that is high on the agenda of politicians, policy makers, and faith communities worldwide. Her research will focus on, but not be limited to, contexts like Egypt and Indonesia where she has a strong track record and large research networks. VU-professor Van Doorn is enthusiastic about this new perspective: “We can never take for granted the hard-fought right to believe and practice as we choose. Taking it away often happens in covert ways when situations of violence and discrimination are disguised as social or cultural problems.”
Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religion or Belief
Van Doorn will hold the chair on behalf of the Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religion or Belief, thus further contributing to its global horizon. Director Lena Larsen: "The Oslo Coalition appreciates the initiative of the VU to have a special chair on freedom of religion or belief. Academic research has an important role in promoting freedom of religion or belief as it is based on knowledge and can open doors where others are closed.” 

Dean Ruard Ganzevoort is grateful for the way the chair has developed: “This highlights the realistic approach toward religion in our pluralist world. In many places religion and belief – including secular and atheist worldviews – are met with discrimination or even violence. It is a bold and urgent move forward to approach issues of religious dialogue within the framework of freedom of religion or belief. This matches our faculty’s focus on societally relevant research and we belief Nelly van Doorn is well positioned to make this move.”

About Nelly van Doorn
190807 Nelly van Doorn TekstNelly van Doorn-Harder teaches Religious Studies at Wake Forest University and at the Center for Islamic Theology (CIT), the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. During the 1990s, she taught at the Theology Department of Duta Wacana Christian University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and remains involved in research and teaching in that country. Her research focuses on Islam in Indonesia and on Coptic Christianity in Egypt, especially where it concerns issues of freedom of religions or belief, religious leadership, gender, and interfaith. She is the co-editor of the journal Interreligious Studies and Intercultural Theology (Equinox Publishers).

Currently, she is co-directing a research project that focuses on the role of women leaders in interreligious dialogue and peaceful co-existence in Indonesia. She especially is studying how these women negotiate religious differences when addressing violence against women (e.g., domestic violence), child marriage, and poverty.