Elisabetta Porcu


Elisabetta Porcu is an Associate Professor of Asian religions at the University of Cape Town. Before moving to South Africa, she worked at various universities in Japan (2004-2010) and taught Japanese religions at the University of Leipzig (2010-2014). She has been Visiting Research Scholar at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto (2013-2014), Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Hawaii (2013), and Visiting Professor at Kyushu University (2016-2017). Among her publications are the monograph Pure Land Buddhism in Modern Japanese Culture (Brill, 2008), the volume Matsuri and Religion: Complexity, Continuity, and Creativity in Japanese Festivals (co-edited with Michael D. Foster, Brill 2020); and various articles and book chapters, including "Gion Matsuri in Kyoto: A Multilayered Religious Phenomenon" (2020); “Religion, Second Modernity and Individualization in Japan” (2018); “Contemporary Japanese Buddhist Traditions” (2017); and “Pop Religion in Japan: Buddhist Temples, Icons and Branding” (2014). Prof. Porcu is the director of the Center for the Study of Asian Religions (CSAR) at the University of Cape Town and the founding editor of the Journal of Religion in Japan (Brill). She is currently working on two book projects on the Gion Festival in Kyoto and Japanese religions and popular culture.

Federico Settler


Federico Settler is an Associate professor in sociology of religion from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, where he is also Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning in the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics. He has held several prestigious research fellowships, and most recently was a visiting Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Study of Culture (2020) where he contributed to a series of courses on religion and racial diversity. He has published widely on race, postcolonialism and migration, and its entanglements with religion. Prof Settler is Assistant Editor of Culture and Religion and serve on several editorial boards. His most recent publications reflect on race and the phantasies of benevolence in Nordic practices of hospitality. He is the author of forthcoming book Mundane Enchantments and Everyday Religion (Routledge, 2022).

Ala Alhourani


Ala Alhourani is a lecturer in the Department for the Study of Religions at the University of Cape Town. His PhD is in anthropology of Islam and focused on aesthetic formations of Muslim-ness in Cape Town and Muslim identity politics of difference and citizenship. His research interests include Islam in Africa, Islamic Studies, postcolonial critique, aesthetic and ethics of religion, and art and material culture. He is a writer and a film maker.

Clementine Nishimwe


Dr Clementine Nishimwe is the treasurer of ASRSA from 2019 - 2023. She is a lecturer in the Department of Religion Studies at the University of Johannesburg. Her area of research interest is migration, gender and Anglican Churches in South Africa. She is also interested in ethnographic research, particularly in Anglican churches and Pentecostal churches based in South Africa. She supervises postgraduate students studying in the fields listed above.

Maria Frahm-Arp

Editor of the Journal for the Study of Religion

Prof Maria Frahm-Arp is the chairperson of ASRSA from 2017-2019. She works in the Department of Religion Studies at the University of Johannesburg. Her area of research interest is Pentecostal Charismatic Churches in South Africa and she has written on women (Professional Women in South African Pentecostal Churches. Brill 2010), development (Bompani, B & Frahm-Arp, M. (eds). Development and Religion from Below: Exploring Religious Spaces in the African State. Palgrave Macmillan 2010) and politics in these churches. She is also interested in Anglican Studies, particularly in South Africa and has supervised numerous postgraduate students studying in this field.

Lee Scharnick-Udemans

Executive Committee Member

Dr Lee Scharnick-Udemans is the senior researcher in the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice at the University of the Western Cape. Her research focuses on religious diversity and religious pluralism in the context of contemporary South Africa. Trained in the study of religion and society, Dr Scharnick-Udemans researches, teaches and supervises in the area of religious diversity, pluralism, religion education, the political economy of religion, new religious movements, and the media. She is the co-editor of the Journal for the Study of Religion and the submissions editor for the African Journal of Gender and Religion.

Garth Mason

Executive Committee Member

I have been a member of the Religious Studies academic community since 1991. I have taught in various departments of Religious Studies in Southern Africa, including; The University of Witwatersrand, University of Botswana, Unisa and University of Cape Town (as a visiting academic in 2019). Over this long period of 30 years, I have been privileged to be involved in many conversations that have shaped the identity and evolution of the discipline. My central focus is Buddhist, Hindu and Western philosophy. Of late my philosophical writings have turned to the poetic in an attempt to discover links between poetry and religious philosophy. In addition, as my academic interests have grown, I have been pleasantly distracted by South African religious life writing. In this regard I have tried my hand at being an amateur historian in exploring rhetoric and narratives of late British Imperial religious autobiographies of the 1920s – 1950s.