Leader of MF CASR - Iselin Frydenlund

CASR – With Wind in its Sails

"We are beginning to attract attention within international research contexts, and we are aware of great interest in several of the centre's projects," says CASR director Iselin Frydenlund. 

(translated by Andrew D. Wergeland)

"It has almost been a year since the research centre MF CASR was established. A good year.  In the past six months we have been granted funding for three large research projects. It is just spectacular," says Frydenlund with a smile.

Large New Research Projects
Professor Victor Ghica has received EU funding for a five-year project that will give a new understanding of how Christianity conquered the Roman empire in the fourth century.
Read more: ERC Support Received for Late Antique Research

Professor Liv Ingeborg Lied will lead a project called "Books known only by Title: Exploring the Gendered Structures of the First Millennium Imagined Library" at CAS – Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Here, she will study books from the first millennium that we only know the titles of, and that are attributed to female figures.
Read more: Books Known Only by Title

Associate Professor Iselin Frydenlund herself, Director of CASR, has received support from the Research Council of Norway/FRIPRO to research Islamophobia. The project's point of departure is the recent decades' sharp increase in anti-Muslim feelings and practices over the whole world.
Read more: MF Project on Islamophobia Recieves Funding from the Research Council

"All of these grants are fantastic news for CASR, and it shows the breadth of our research portfolio. Here we find both early mission history, material artefacts, manuscript research, gender perspectives, the antique world, religion, politics and current nationalism represented. In other words, we cover both history and the present time.  It is great," says Frydenlund.  

Leader in Religion Research
She believes that MF CASR is an important platform for research communication for MF – both nationally and internationally, and that CASR shows that MF has become one of the leading contexts for religion research in Norway.

"A lot of good research has been done at MF for a long time – MF CASR showcases this research in a different way than what has been done before."

The centre's director believes that CASR generates a good scholarly community. Every Tuesday new research is presented at lunch.  CASR researchers also have other forums where they talk with each other. They utilize each other – and make each other better.   

"The fact that we recently have received grants for so many projects is a sign that MF is in a good phase in general, and that CASR in return facilitates this. We are a research-driven centre, and have as a goal to not develop a big and heavy bureaucratic culture. We are not a state within a state, but are driven forward by enthusiasm and love of research," says Frydenlund.  

She describes a group of researchers who really go at their work with everything they have.

"Research is community – and the myth of the lonely genius is false. You need good community structures for researchers to thrive. We have been able to generate enthusiasm for research and initiate new projects."

Community and Synergy
The researchers at CASR have different teams on all projects. The three big projects that received grants this fall will draw in new researchers, research fellows and post-doctors.

"The teams constitute strong research communities and CASR in turn provides a framework and basic structure around these," says Frydenlund.  

That is, CASR provides coordination and facilitation, community and synergy – and helps researchers profit from each other's experiences.

"We read each other's applications and help each other in the process. Still, it is not always the case that applications are approved. But my experience is that our people share the joy of those who are successful. Because success, the fact that a colleague succeeds, is something we all profit from. We simply have an amazing work environment," according to Frydenlund.

2019 – A Lot on the Agenda

Still, not everything is a walk in the park. CASR has limited resources.

"We need to constantly strive to find smarter and more efficient ways of working. We need to constantly be on the lookout for appropriate paths for continued research cooperation. We would like to implement good structures for guest lecturers, to be able to have people stay with us over time. And we need to put efforts into increasing the centre's funding."

Soon the Tuesday lunches will start again. There has been a short New Year's break.  On February 12th, Jan-Olav Henriksen will present his new book.
MF CASR meets every Tuesday from 11:30-12:00 for an informal lunch in the CASR room on the 4th Floor of MF, near the Kitchen. 
Read more: Tuesday Lunches - Spring 2019

"In addition, we are planning a larger event about religion and politics on the 5-6th of September. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd will be the keynote speaker there. She is a recognized professor of politics and religion at Northwestern University in the USA, and a member of the MF CASR board. In addition, 2019 means the initial phase for our big new projects," says a positive and happy CASR director.