Goals of the Center

Just beginning its inaugural year, CSRS is affiliated with Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality; the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; and the Barnard Center for Research on Women.  The center aims to provide forums and resources for the interdisciplinary study of the rapidly evolving and often troubled intersections of religion and sexuality across the world. How can we understand today’s flashpoints—such as sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church; the Christian Right’s vocal shaping of US politics around abortion and gay marriage; Islamophobia and the stigmatizing of Muslim societies through controversies focused on practices associated with controlling sexuality and women; new forms of violence against openly identified gays in various parts of the world; controversies surrounding Tantric practices—in ways that do not simply reproduce the polarizations embedded within the controversies themselves? How are both religious and sexual rights movements affected by structures of knowledge and power within national and transnational settings? We will also address the historical specificity of these intersections of religion and sexuality by considering changing historical perspectives on the place of sexuality within various religious traditions, as well as debates over religious and ethical implications of emerging technological procedures involving the sexual body.