Erik Meinema

PhD Candidate Religious Studies,Utrecht University

Year of birth: 1988

Current position: PhD Candidate

Past positions: Junior Researcher at the Knowledge Center for Religion and Development, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Personal Profile:

Research on conflict and peacebuilding identifies youth mostly as either possible perpetrators or victims of violent conflict. It is also often assumed that especially marginalized or jobless youth are easily inflamed and mobilized by religious arguments, leading to their radicalization. This assumption neglects the ways in which the majority of religious youth often manages to maintain or even build peaceful interreligious relations, despite challenges of poverty and marginalization.

This research project (2015-2020) focuses on coastal Kenya, a region with significant Muslim and Christian populations that over recent years has seen a rise in interreligious tensions. Taking the region as a case study, I aim to identify how both Muslim and Christian youth perceive, influence, and/or actively shape current interreligious relations, both in various institutional settings as well as everyday life. The project will thus investigate several programs aiming to improve Muslim-Christian relations, initiated by the government, (international) development organisations, faith-based organisations, and local communities. Additionally, I will explore how young Muslims and Christians interact in various everyday settings, such as work, the baraza (social meeting places popular along the Swahili coast of East-Africa), sports, and other leisure activities.

My project takes a post-secular perspective on multireligious settings such as coastal Kenya. This means that I will critically analyse how various secular and religious views, values, and practices with regard to Muslim-Christian relations, advanced by both religious and secular actors, impact possibilities for peaceful interreligious coexistence. By using this perspective, I hope to contribute to wider debates about how various stances towards secularism and the (public) roles of religion in society influence opportunities for peaceful interreligious coexistence, while broadening these often Western-oriented theoretical debates to an African setting.

Recent scholarly papers/books:

  1. E. Meinema. 2012. “Provoking Peace, Grassroots Peacebuilding by Ambonese Youth.” MA thesis, University of Groningen.
  2. E. Meinema and B. Bartelink. 2014. “Contested Sexualities and Shared Concerns, Power Dynamics in a Transnational Network of Faith-Based Organisations.” In Strings Attached: AIDS and The Rise Of Transnational Connections in Africa, edited by Nadine Beckmann, Alessandro Gusman, and Catrine Shroff (eds.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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