Professor Adriaan van Klinken

Professor Adriaan van Klinken


The University of Leeds has a history of teaching and researching religions in Africa, and I am delighted to be continuing this tradition since my appointment in 2013. In 2020, I was promoted to full Professor of Religion and African Studies in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. Prior to coming to Leeds, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at SOAS University of London (2011-2012). I received my PhD in Religious Studies (cum laude) from Utrecht University in 2011. 

My academic interests are at the intersections of Religious Studies and African Studies, with a focus on religion, gender and sexuality in contemporary Africa. Please check out my recent books:

At Leeds, I am a member of the Centre for Religion and Public Life as well as of the Leeds University Centre for African Studies. Since 2021, I am also extraordinary professor at the University of the Western Cape (South Africa), in the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice. 

I am actively involved in scholarly associations, such as the African Studies Association UK, and the African Association for the Study of Religions, both of which I serve as exectuvive committee member. Furthermore, I am a member of the editorial board of the journals Religion, Religion and GenderJournal of Africana Religions, African Journal of Gender and Religionand Reading Religion, and co-editor of the book series Routledge Critical Studies in Religion, Gender and Sexuality.

Research interests

Having a broad interest in the role of religion in African societies and cultures today, the particular focus of my research is on issues of religion, gender, sexuality and public life in contemporary Africa. The geographical focus of my work has mostly been on Zambia and, more recently, Kenya. Methodologically I embrace a ‘scavenger approach’ that creatively borrows methods, concepts and theories from disciplines across the arts, humanities and social sciences. I weave these approaches together in an attempt to analyse and understand religion as a social, cultural and political category intricately connected to the multiple dimensions of human life in Africa and beyond. I’ve increasingly become interested in creative and arts-based methodologies and in working with local communities and actors as agents of social change.

My research has developed around the following themes:

I currently hold two research grants:

I welcome applications from postgraduate research students in areas related to my diverse interests and expertise, especially in areas such as religion and public life in Africa, contemporary Christianity, gender and sexuality.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Religious Studies, Utrecht University (2011)
  • MA in Religious Studies, Utrecht University (2006)
  • BA in Religion and Social Work, Ede University of Applied Science (2003)

Professional memberships

  • African Association for the Study of Religions
  • African Studies Association UK
  • American Academy of Religion
  • International Association for the Study of Religion and Gender

Student education

In the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, I am involved in teaching various undergraduate modules in the subject of Religion. Most of the modules that I lead have a focus on religion in Africa. Also in more general modules, I usually find ways of bringing in my specific interest and expertise in this field. The same applies to my teaching at postgraduate level. The great thing of teaching at Leeds is the University's commitment to research-led teaching, meaning that on the one hand we are encouraged to constantly revise our teaching on the basis of our latest research, while on the other hand students are encouraged to engage in research activities themselves and are indeed trained to become student-researchers. 

The undergraduate modules I teach are typically part of the programmes Theology & Religious Studies; Religion, Politics and Society; and Ethics, Philosophy and Religion. Through the discovery modules scheme, students from all over the university are welcome to enrol in my modules.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Religion and Public Life
  • Theology and Religious Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>