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Who we are


Dr. Ali Qadir is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Finland. He also holds the title of Docent at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Dr. Qadir has co-authored two international, scientific books and published 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles, book chapters, and works for general and professional communities. His research and teaching have focused on global & transnational sociology, cultural policy and intercultural dialogue, and sociology of religion. His latest book project, being co-authored with Dr. Tiaynen-Qadir, develops new theorizing around “deep culture” to explore the cultural relevance of symbols. In addition to membership in various scientific associations, he is also a member of the Steering Committee of Templeton Religion Trust, one of the world’s largest organizations supporting cutting-edge research on religion.

Dr. Tatiana Tiaynen-Qadir is a researcher, educator and writer with a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology and a second Ph.D. in History, with many years of international, university teaching and in-depth research experience. She now works at the intersections of art, social sciences, humanities and education,  making a contribution to creative and community-orientated work in Canada and globally. She has published extensively in international, peer-reviewed scientific journals and edited volumes and is now finalizing a co-authored book (with Dr. Ali Qadir) called “Symbols and Myth-making in Modernity: Deep Culture in Art and Action” to be published by Anthem press. Dr. Tiaynen-Qadir works with the conviction that making art, religion, myth and history individually and publicly relevant expands human boundaries of knowledge and perception.

Dr. Durre S. Ahmed is Chair of the GRC Board of Directors and Chief Academic Advisor. She is also Chairperson and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Gender and Culture, Lahore, Pakistan. From 1976 to 2009 she taught at the National College of Arts, Pakistan’s premier arts institution where she was Professor of Psychology and Communication, Head of Department and Director, Graduate Program in Cultural Studies. An internationally acknowledged expert on gender and Islam, her interdisciplinary interests include the social psychology of religion, particularly Islam and she has extensively researched the psychology of women’s spirituality and issues related to gender, culture, religion and science in the context of Muslim societies. Apart from numerous research papers, and book chapters, she is the author of Masculinity, Rationality and Religion: A Feminist Perspective, editor and contributing author of Gendering the Spirit: Women, Religion and Postcolonial Response, and a six-volume series on Women and Religion. Dr. Ahmed is also a practicing psychotherapist. 

Dr. Ahmed was awarded the Fatima Jinnah Memorial Gold Medal by the Government of the Punjab, Pakistan, for outstanding contributions to education and research (2008), the Izzaz-i-Fazeelat President of Pakistan Award for Academic distinction (2009), and other international and national recognitions. She has served as a juror of the Commonwealth Writers Prize (2009), and as one of nine judges world-wide for the Templeton Prize for Religion (2009-2012). She was a member of the Steering Committee of Templeton Religion Trust (2015-2021) and is currently on the Board of Advisors of TRT. She has also served on John Templeton Foundation’s International Board of Advisors (2011-2013). Dr. Ahmed is presently also Chair of the Annemarie Schimmel Scholarship Committee, a high-ranking scholarship awarded annually to outstanding Pakistani women for study in Britain.

Who we are: Meet the Team


Who we are: Text

Dr. Frédérique Apffel-Marglin is Professor Emerita, Dpt. of Anthropology at Smith College and founded Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration (SCBR) in the Peruvian Upper Amazon in 2009 which she directs. She has spent years in India and Peru working with indigenous peoples and with farmers. She was a research associate at the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) in Helsinki, a part of the United Nations University, for several years in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Along with the Harvard economist Stephen A. Marglin, she has directed several research projects questioning the dominance of the modern paradigm of knowledge. In the early 1990’s she decided she could no longer continue doing ethnographic fieldwork – which she had continued doing in the Indian State of Odisha – for moral and political reasons. She was then invited by the Peruvian intellectual-activist group PRATEC to collaborate with them in Peru which she did until 2005. From 2005 to 2009 she collaborated with the Upper Peruvian Amazonian Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative Oro Verde until 2009 when she founded her own center in the same region of the Upper Peruvian Amazon in the State of San Martin. At SCBR in the Upper Peruvian Amazon she works with indigenous communities as well as several High Schools in the province, regenerating the most sustainable and climate reducing pre-Columbian anthropogenic soil known as Terra Preta do Indio (black earth of the Indians). She has authored six books as well as edited or co-edited nine more books and published some 70 articles and book chapters. Her more recent books are: Subversive Spiritualities: How Rituals Enact the World(Oxford U. Pr. New York, 2011); Sacred Soil: Biochar and the Regeneration of the Earth with Robert Tindall and David Shearer, (North Atlantic Books/Penguin Random, 2017) and most recently Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi edited with Stefano Varese, Peter Lang, 2020. She is currently working on a book on Upper Amazonian Shamanism.

Dr. Essi Ikonen is a philosopher of education, a methodologist, and a teacher. She explores and develops innovative research methodologies and learning experiences through interdisciplinary dialogue among different fields such as philosophy, education, arts, anthropology and theology. She received her doctorate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Helsinki, Finland in 2020 and works at the moment as a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Culture and Society at the University of Aarhus, Denmark.

Dr. Neilesh Bose is Associate Professor of History and Canada Research Chair in Global and Comparative History at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada. His research and teaching focus on history of modern South Asia, the British Empire, decolonization, popular culture, social theory, and the history of religion and secularism. He has authored or edited four books as well as written numerous peer reviewed articles and review essays. His current work in progress explores the history of religious reform in nineteenth century colonial India.

Dr. Helena Kupari is a scholar of religion who currently works as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki. Her research interests include contemporary religiosity, religious practice and rituals, social and embodied memory, as well as the intersections of religion, gender, age, ethnicity, and class. Her ongoing research project, funded by the Academy of Finland, investigates conversion to Orthodox Christianity among Finnish cultural workers (e.g., artists, writers, journalists, teachers, and scholars). In addition, she is also member in another Academy of Finland funded research project, which focuses on learning in the context of new religion and spirituality.

Imran Babur is a successful and celebrated documentary filmmaker, photographer, and teacher in Pakistan, and a multidisciplinary artist in Canada. From the last mile remote areas of Pakistan to the urban metros of Canada, he has found stories that are universal in their relevance and have presented them from unique perspectives, in multiple formats (see more here). He has trained and mentored many motivated and now accomplished professionals over the course of his career, and now continues to offer mentorship in filmmaking and the art of photography and design. As a multidisciplinary storyteller, Imran Babur presents ideas that focus on similarities rather than differences – in an attempt to replace ignorance with information, fear with empathy, and divisiveness with interconnectedness (see Imran Babur's "People are Places" photography here)

Our work is enabled by our technical team and social media facilitators: Mekyle Qadir and Egor Iarovoi.

Who we are: Meet the Team
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