Professor Emma Tomalin


Gender and Religion; Religion and Development; Religion and Environmentalism; Buddhism and Hinduism; South and South-East Asia

Research and Supervision Interests

  • Gender, religion and society
  • Religion and development
  • Religion and environmentalism
  • Buddhism and Hinduism
  • South and South-East Asia
  • The role of faith based organisations (e.g. in the 'Big Society'; in International Development etc...)
  • Religious buildings
  • Religion in diasporas

Current Research Projects 


Minority faith buildings and the construction of heritage


With Caroline Starkey I am currently carrying out research for Historic England on a project about minority faith buildings in England. For further information please see our blogs from this project 'buildingbuddhism' and 'buildinghinduism'. 'A Survey of Buddhist Buildings in England' final report can be downloaded here.

Religions and development

I have recently been awarded an AHRC network grant (with Jrg Haustein, SOAS) to work on a project entitled - Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals. This will run for 24 months from 1/11/16. The project website can be access here.

Linked to this project I am co-convenor of a study group in the UK Development Studies Association (DSA) on 'Religions and Development'  and am Co-Chair of the International Development and Religion programme unit of the American Academy of Religion.

I am a member the steering committee of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture.

Between 2005 and 2010 I was a research associate on a large research programme on 'Religions and Development' based in the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham and funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DfID).

We have just launched a new mailing list to connect people interested in religions and development. To join this list please sign up here.

Religion and anti-trafficking

I am currently Co-Investigator on an ESRC funded project called ‘Understanding the Role of Faith Based Organisations in Anti-Trafficking in the UK’.

I am co-chair with Anne Gregora of the new JLI hub on anti-human trafficking and modern slavery.

Religion and public health

Since 2013 I have been working with Public Health Leeds on a project that examines the role of places of worship as Public Health settings in Leeds. Our report can be downloaded here. We have also followed this up with a similar project in Bradford. To consolidate and extend this work during 2016/17 we are running one of the Leeds Humanities Research Institute's 'Sadler Seminar Series' on 'Religion and Public Health: bridges and barriers to improving global health outcomes'.

Current Teaching

Gender, Religion and Society; Religion and Global Development.





  • Haustein, J. and Tomalin, E. (2017) 'Religion and Development in Africa and Asia'. In Pedro Amakasu Raposo, David Arase, Scarlett Cornelissen (eds) Routledge Handbook of Africa–Asia Relations. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Tomalin, E. and Starkey, C. (2017) ‘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): 156-172.
  • Starkey, C. and Tomalin, E (2016). ‘Building Buddhism in England: The Flourishing of a Minority Faith Heritage’, Journal of Contemporary Buddhism. 17(2): 326-356
  • Tomalin, E. (2016) ‘International development engages with religion: How to achieve positive outcomes for women.’ In For Better for Worse: The Role of Religion in Development Cooperation, Edited by Robert Oden, Swedish Mission Council.
  • Tomalin, E. (2015): 'Gender, development and the ‘de-privatization’ of religion'. In R. Bush, P. Fountain and M. Feener (eds) Religion and the Politics of Development: Priests, Potentates, and ‘Progress’. Palgrave. 
  • Tomalin, E. (2014): ‘Writing British Asian Women: from purdah and the problematic private sphere to new forms of public engagement and cultural production’. In S. Mcloughlin, W.Gould, A.Kabir and E. Tomalin (eds)): Writing the City in British-Asian Diasporas. London: Routledge.
  • Tomalin, E. (2013) ‘Gender, Buddhism and the Bhikkhuni Ordination: Transnational strategies for the feminist transformation of religion in the 21st century’. In Niamh Reilly and Stacey Scriver (eds.) Religion, Gender and the Public Sphere. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
  • Tomalin, E. (2013) (with C. Starkey): Gender, Buddhism and Education: dhamma and social transformation within the Theravada tradition. In Z. Gross, L. Davies  and K. Diab (eds) Gender, Religion and Education in a Chaotic Postmodern World. Springer.
  • Tomalin, E. (2013) (with C.Starkey): ‘Buddhism and Development’. Matthew Clarke (ed) Handbook of Research on Development and Religion. Edwin Elgar.
  • Tomalin, E. (2013) ‘Gender, Religion and Development’. Matthew Clarke (ed) Handbook of Research on Development and Religion. Edwin Elgar.
  • Tomalin, E. (2012) ‘Thinking about faith-based organisations in development: where have we got to and what next?’ Development in Practice 22 (5-6) 689-703.
  • Tomalin, E. (2009) (with T. Bradley) ‘The Contemporary Dowry Problematic: exploring the role of the study of religion in bridging the gap between theory and practice’. Religions of South Asia, 3(2): 251-274.
  • Tomalin, E. (2009) Buddhist Feminist Transnational Networks, Female Ordination and Women's Empowerment. Oxford Development Studies. 37 (22): 81 - 100
  • Tomalin, E. (2008)'Faiths and Development'. In Desai and Potter (eds) The Companion to Development Studies (London: Hodder Arnold), pp. 485-489
  • Tomalin, E. (2007) 'Pedagogy and Beyond: Supporting Cultural and Religious Diversity in Higher Education'. Teaching in Higher Education. 12(5-6): 621-634 (special edition on Diversity and Commonality in Higher Education).
  • Pearson, R. and Tomalin, E. (2007) 'Intelligent Design: a Gender Sensitive Interrogation of Religion and Development'. In Clarke, Jennings and Shaw (eds) Development, Civil Society and Faith-Based Organizations (Basingstoke: Palgrave) pp. 46-71
  • Tomalin, E. (2007) 'Religion, Gender and the Environment in Asia: Moving Beyond the Essentialisms of 'Spiritual Ecofeminism'? In Resurreccion and Elmhirst (eds) Gender and Natural Resource Management in Asia (London and Sterling, VA: Earthscan) pp. 243-259
  • Tomalin, E. (2006): 'Religion and a Rights-Based Approach to Development'. Progress in Development Studies. 6(2): 93-108
  • Tomalin, E. (2006) The Thai bhikkhuni movement and women's empowerment. Gender and Development. 14 (3): 385-397
  • Tomalin, E. 2004: 'Bio-divinity and Biodiversity: perspectives on religion and environmental conservation in India'. Numen 51(3): 265-295.
  • Tomalin, E. and Szerszynski, B. 2004: 'Enchantment and its Uses: Explicit and Implicit Religion in Direct Action Politics'. In Jon Purkis and James Bowen (eds) Changing anarchism: Anarchist theory and practice in a global age. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 199-212.
  • Tomalin, E. 2004: entries on 'Deep Ecology' and 'Religion and Development'. In Tim Forsyth (ed) The Encyclopedia of International Development. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Tomalin, E. and Hollick, J. 2002: 'Making a Radio Documentary on the River Ganges'. Contemporary South Asia 11(2): 211-226.
  • Tomalin, E. 2002: 'The Limits of Religious Environmentalism for India'. Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 6(1): 12-30.




















  • Deputy Head of School
<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>

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Religion and Public Life

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>