We have been living in Australia for about two weeks now. Despite the necessary hurdles involved in an international move, overall the transition has been splendid.
I will be located in the Centre for the History of European Discourses. The Centre is located in the tower of the Forgan Smith building, one of the more recognizable buildings on the University of Queensland campus. It is beautifully constructed out of sandstone and contains long archways throughout. More information about Forgan Smith and the construction of the building named after him can be found here.
The Centre is devoted to researching key areas of intellectual and literary history, with a strong focus on the early modern period, including divisions such as Science, Religion and Philosophy, British Literary History, Religious History, History of Sexuality, Political and Philosophical Thought, and Renaissance Historiography.
Since I will be working with Peter Harrison, my area will be Science, Religion and Philosophy. Harrison, along with a number of other postdocs, are working on a fascinating series of funded projects. The first, Science, Progress and History, is funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds inter-disciplinary research about human purpose and ultimate reality. This project explores questions of progress and order in the historical sciences (history, geology, evolutionary biology, cosmology) and how notions of order and progress in these natural sciences have been applied to human affairs from the seventeenth century onwards.
Another project, Religion, Naturalism and the Sciences, funded by The Historical Society, investigates the relations between science, naturalism and religion, with a view to determining the nature of their historical interactions.
The University of Cambridge’s Faraday Institute funds a project provocatively titled Uses and Abuses of Biology, which aims to reveal the nuanced ways in which the concept of biological evolution is being deployed throughout new atheist propaganda.
And finally, and perhaps most interesting for my own research, is the project Religion, History and the Secular, aiming to explore some of the major genres of the history of secularization, and to account for them historically.
With these generously funded projects, and the minds behind them, UQ is at the forefront of discussions of the relations between religion, science, and culture. I am very much looking forward to my time here.