Centre for Religion and Public Life research clusters

Religion, Media and Material Culture

Centre for Religion and Public Life research examines the various ways in which religion in contemporary society is being “mediated”, such as through arts and media technology but also in the forms of buildings and other forms of material culture.

Work in this area is mostly concerned with South Asian traditions and communities in Britain and makes use of ethnographic, sociological and media-studies approaches.


Key publications

Emma Tomalin and Caroline Starkey, “Buddhist Buildings in England: The Construction of Under-Represented Faith Heritages in a Multicultural and Post-Christian Setting”, International Journal of Heritage Studies 23/2 (2017), 156-172.

Jasjit Singh, “What ‘Value’ South Asian Arts in Britain?”, South Asian Popular Culture 14/3 (2017), 155-165.

Major projects

McLoughlin is co-investigator on an AHRC-funded large grant led by Dr Helen Graham (Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds), “Bradford’s National Museum: Methods for Re-founding ‘Inter/national’ Museums Translocally” (2017-2020).

Tomalin, Starkey and Singh carried out a project funded by Historic England on minority faith buildings in England (2015-2016).
Singh was Principal Investigator on a critical review project about The Cultural Value of South Asian Arts, funded as part of the AHRC Cultural Value project (2014).

Impact and engagement

In consultation with Historic England, Tomalin and Starkey in 2017 produced recommendations for modifying the criteria for listing Buddhist buildings in England and have updated the Historical Record of Buildings that is used nationally. They also helped forge links between Buddhist communities and related heritage agencies to ensure conversation and collaboration in the longer-term, which is key to recording intangible, alongside tangible material religious heritage.

McLoughlin was also previously an AHRC-funded research partner on the British Museum's exhibition "Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam" (2012) and was commissioned by the AHRC to produce one of its 10th Anniversary Image Galleries: "The Hajj, Ethnography and British Muslims" (2015).