Student Research Grants

The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion offers annual research grants to assist graduate students in their research. Although these grants are normally used for dissertation support, other significant research is eligible. The ordinary maximum award is $3,000. Grants are intended to cover research expenses, travel, research assistance, and up to $1,500 in stipend for the researcher's own time. Grant recipients have two years to spend their awards and are expected to submit a brief report on their research. SSSR student research funding is transferred to the principal investigator’s university unless other arrangements are made. Please note that SSSR does not allow for any indirect cost recovery. 

Applicants must be SSSR members at the time they submit their proposals and must not have won the award in the previous three years. Applicants should describe the project they wish to undertake in no more than 3 single–spaced pages, discussing its significance for the social scientific study of religion and briefly identifying the literature on which they are drawing. The applications should include an abstract of no more than 100 words and an annotated budget that describes the rationale for proposed expenditures, as well as information about any other sources of support. The application should be accompanied by a brief curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages) listing the most recent research and publications.

Via the submission form above, candidates should submit PDF files of the abstract, three page proposal, annotated budget, and two page CV. All application packages must be received by May 1, 2024.


Blake Victor Kent, Chair (Westmont College)

Jeffrey Guhin (UCLA)

Andrew Lewis (University of Cincinnati)

Jessica Hamar Martinez, (University of Arizona)


Nomaan Hasan (Brown University), "Secularism and the Islamic Tradition in Contemporary India"
Scholarship across the humanities and social sciences has been skeptical of secularism as a discourse of religious freedom. Interrogating the Eurocentrism of the concept, several authors have argued that secularism’s roots in Protestant Christianity render it hostile to Muslims in particular, calling Islam the other of secularism. Are there other ways to understand the relationship between secularism and Islam, for instance, in a non-western democracy such as India? Through six months of ethnographic fieldwork, this project examines how Indian Muslims are redefining Islam and secularism by articulating them in conjunction at a moment of strident majoritarianism in the country.

Tyler Fuller (Boston University), "Negotiating Authenticity and Authority in COVID-19-Era Catholicism"
My dissertation examines tensions, contestations, and negotiations of authority among the Catholic Church hierarchy, Catholic laity, and public health institutions in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. I utilize archival and qualitative methods within grounded theory to examine how the Catholic laity claim authority to make decisions about how they engage in sacraments and social distancing. Drawing on scholarship concerning the “healthworld,” I examine how the Catholic hierarchy, Catholic laity, and public health institutions define “comprehensive well-being,” to understand their actions and contestations during COVID-19. These include valuing in-person versus online mass, as well as risk mitigation strategies.

Ruth Amwe (Princeton Theological Seminary), "On Our Way to Appease the Gods!: Asserting Gender and Religious Ritual Capitals in the Nigerian Public Sphere"
This research attempts to examine the positionality of women’s bodies in public discourse against the backdrop of African religions and spirituality. It seeks to explore how evangelical Christian women of Atyap Kingdom of Southern Kaduna, Nigeria, engage in the deployment of their ritual power in public discourse through the age-long practice of byanfwo kagbang rooted in African indigenous religions and performed by members of the satirr women’s cult. I wish to understand the indigenous religious cosmologies and worldviews that legitimizes such actions. By employing ethnographic methodologies, I seek to interrogate how their religious identities, cosmologies, worldviews and lived experiences are contested, renegotiated, and re-deployed.

Isaiah Jeong (University of Illinois Chicago), "Bourdieu Goes to Church: An Analysis of Racial Inclusion and Social Class Exclusion in a Multi-Racial Organization"
Although research has extensively explored the progress and perils of multi-racial organizations in their engagement with issues of race and racism, few research has paid attention to the role of social class hierarchy in these settings. To address the gap, this study draws on an ethnographic study of a multi-racial church to investigate how social class boundaries are maintained in racially inclusive spaces. By analytically interacting race and class, the study seeks to show how genuine efforts of racial integration can paradoxically unveil mechanisms of social stratification.

Levi Allen (Notre Dame University), "Embattled and Beset: The Case of White Evangelical Democrats"
Why do people defect from the partisan pull of their social identities? Leveraging 68 interviews among white evangelical Democrats, I find that some of these defectors have taken refuge within like-minded churches; however, for those who reside in churches where they are in the political minority, they face significant headwinds to update their preferences, or leave. These embattled defectors may hold the key to reducing partisan tensions as their cross-cutting ties breed tolerance. The SSSR grant would allow me to conduct additional interviews (30) in Indianapolis, Indiana to further explore this phenomenon on a more diverse sample.