Carolina Ivanescu (Arad, 1979) obtained her Master’s degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Romanian Philology at the Eötvös Loránd University Budapest. For her Cultural Anthropology degree she has conducted fieldwork in Tibetan communities living in exile in India and Nepal, working as a volunteer for Gyudmed Tantric College Dharamsala and the Tibetan Library of Works and Archives. Subsequently she moved to the Netherlands where she completed a Research Master in the Social Sciences at the International School for the Humanities and the Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam. For her MSc degree she conducted research on the sartorial preferences of Pakistani young women in the Netherlands. While in the second year of her Research Master she started her doctoral studies at the Department of Sociology of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. During her doctoral years she has been part of the chair Citizenship and Identity, a cooperation between the City of Rotterdam and the Erasmus University. She has also been involved in the supervision and teaching of students and has been a member of the research group CIMIC. While finalizing her dissertation, she has worked as an academic researcher on the European integration Fund financed project IMPACIM shared between the Sociology and the Public Administration departments of Erasmus University Rotterdam. At present Carolina is Lecturer in Religion and Society at the Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies, University of Amsterdam.
Introduction to religious studies II - Inleiding Religiewetenschappen II
Sociology of religion - Godsdienstsociologie
Islam in Europa
Religion, diversity and the (post)secular society - Religie, diversiteit en de (post)seculiere samenleving
Religion,violence and conflict resolution
Religions in today's society - Religies in de hedendaagse samenleving
Coming from a family affected in its peculiar combination of Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions by the biting tooth of communism, the overwhelming sensory certainty that religion is capable of giving and sustaining meaning in life surprised me. While doing fieldwork in India, seeing devotion in its myriad aspects cracked beyond repair the citadels of my ‘western’ perception. I was allowed a glimpse into what a world filled with transcendence could be. This has been an intellectual as well as an ontological experience. I felt that when contemplating the ‘religious’ unfold around me in its multiple dimensions I recognized and understood something essential. While I was used to see people turn to each other in times of need, the relationship to the divine which seemed to permeate Indian everyday reality was pragmatic, but also emotive and sensual. While I was used of going to church twice, maximum three times a year as a sort of obligation performed on otherwise dull free days, believers on this side of the planet were living their every moment in what seemed a neverending conversation with the transcendent. Owing to Mircea Eliade not only wonderful days enriched by his fantastic literature but also a first understanding of the history of religions, I was fascinated to see religion alive, practiced, believed in. I went to India as a traveller but returned as a pilgrim certain that the domain of what we call ‘religion’ is worth investigating, being passionate about, is worth the effort.
My first degree have been in cultural anthropology, from which I inherited my love of ethnography based on participant observation and comparative literature studies which made me see how much can hide in between words. I studied them both at the Eotvos Lorand University Budapest. I further learned how to do and think about research in the social sciences at ISHSS University of Amsterdam. Here I understood how interdisciplinary research can bridge the limitations which are inherent in each branch of learning. I could use this knowledge extensively while affiliated to the Department of Sociology and the research cluster CIMIC at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Here I have completed my doctoral research on the role of religion in the construction of a collective Muslim identity in Rotterdam, Leicester and Marseille and after that, as a post-doctoral reseacher I have devoted my time to an European Integration Funds financed project, jointly working at the Department of Sociology and Public Administration at Erasmus University. As a Lecturer in Religion and Society at the Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies my experience and passions come together beautifully in doing something that I really love.
At present I am interested in the articulations of what counts as religious, especially in contrast or conjunction to what counts as political. Although this distinction makes most sense in Western European nation-states, it is certainly not confined to this geographical area. Using the words of Charles Taylor, the secular is by now part of the ‘social imaginary’ and as such it informs much of our understanding of what religion is and what its role can be. I see the religious and the political as dimensions in need of inquiry rather than given premises. With this my work contributes to what Talal Asad has called an anthropology of secularity. I attempt to contextualize the concept of ‘religion’ and critically engage with its social construction and I am especially interested in what one can call 'minority religions'.