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Dr R.A. van Dijk (1959) has been appointed professor by special appointment of Religion and Sexuality in Africa at the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG). The chair was established on behalf of the African Studies Centre (Afrika Studie Centrum).

Prof Rijk van Dijk, professor Suxuality an Religion in Africa
Photo: Jeroen Oerlemans

Rijk van Dijk is an anthropologist and has conducted extensive research on the Pentecostal movement – including its tenets and ritual practices – in transnational and transcultural relations in Malawi, Ghana and Botswana, as well as in Ghanaian Pentecostal organisations in the Netherlands. Pentecostalism is a modern, worldwide Christian movement that has spread rapidly throughout various regions in Africa. The movement has become associated with socio-economic developments, political structures, youth culture and transnational relations. Pentecostalism also exerts a lot of influence on the public domain in African countries, in the form of religious messages about relationships, sexuality and family life.

More recently, Van Dijk has started researching the manner in which religious groups (including Pentecostal Christians) in Africa are dealing with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and has been appointed president of the International Research Network on Religion and AIDS in Africa. He also conducts research on marriage in Botswana, and on the manner in which increasing concerns and attention for one's personal life, social and other morality, and responsibility to oneself and others within the context of AIDS is gaining prominence within the formation of relationships, alongside a growing fascination with Pentecostalism. In his research, Van Dijk integrates the anthropology of religion and medico-anthropological perspectives of individuals and communities in Africa with the approach they take in the formation of intimate relationships.

As professor by special appointment, Van Dijk will be part of the Health, Care & Body programme run by the UvA's Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), where he will examine how religion, religious practices and moralities from a local African perspective affect health, personal well-being and relationships.

Van Dijk is a senior researcher at the ​​African Studies Centre in Leiden. He also lectures in Ethnology as a guest lecturer at the Centre of Excellence of the University of Constance (Germany). He studied cultural anthropology and human geography at Utrecht University, where her earned his PhD in 1992 for research into the rise of young Pentecostal and charismatic movements in Malawi during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Van Dijk has published an array of articles on religious anthropological research in both books and international journals. He is editor-in-chief of African Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Africa in a Global World (Brill Academic Publishers).