A Personal and Scholarly Reflection on Sociology of Religion, Peacebuilding and Spaciousness


  • Anna Halafoff Deakin University




Religion, diversity, sociology, peacebuilding, education


This invited paper is a personal and scholarly reflection on how I, AnnaHalafoff, became a sociologist of religion in Australia and also presents anoverview of my and my colleagues' contributions to this field. I begin withproviding some background about my upbringing in a Russian household,and my education at Methodist Ladies College and Wesley College, in Melbourne,Australia. I then recount my formative early adult years of exploringspirituality, nature and activism in Northern New South Wales andQueensland and how it led me to enrol in a Master of Letters at the Universityof New England, focusing on religion and peacebuilding. The nextsection discusses our work at Monash and Deakin Universities researchingreligious diversity, countering violent extremism and worldviews education,including our international collaborations. Finally, I describe my currentinterests in Buddhism in Australia and my continued commitment toapplied research that makes a positive difference to society.

Author Biography

  • Anna Halafoff, Deakin University

    Anna Halafoff is an Associate Professor in Sociology and a member of theAlfred Deakin Institute at Deakin University. She is also a Research Associate of theUNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations-Asia Pacific, at MonashUniversity. Her current research interests include religious diversity, interreligiousrelations, religious education, preventing violent extremism, and Buddhism inAustralia.


Ammerman, N. T. (eds) 2007 Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Beaman, Lori 2017 Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Beck, Ulrich 1999 World Risk Society. Polity Press, Cambridge.

2006 The Cosmopolitan Vision. Polity Press, Cambridge.

Bouma, Gary, and Anna Halafoff 2017 Australia’s Changing Religious Profile—Rising Nones and Pentecostals, Declining British Protestants in Superdiversity: Views from the 2016 Census. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion 30(2): 129–43. https://doi.org/10.1558/jasr.34826

Bouma, Gary, Sharon Pickering, Hass Dellal and Anna Halafoff 2007 Managing the Impact of Global Crisis Events on Community Relations in Multicultural Australia. Multicultural Affairs Queensland and the Victorian Office of Multicultural Affairs, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Croucher, Paul 1989 Buddhism in Australia, 1848–1988. New South Wales University Press, Kensington.

Dawson, Andrew (ed.) 2016 The Politics and Practice of Religious Diversity: National Contexts, Global Issues. Routledge, London and New York.

De Souza, Marian, and Anna Halafoff 2017 Re-Enchanting Education and Spiritual Wellbeing: Fostering Belonging and Meaning-making for Global Citizens. Routledge, Abingdon and New York.

Fahy, John, and Jan-Jonathan Bock (eds) 2019 The Interfaith Movement: Mobilising Religious Diversity in the 21st Century. Routledge, Abingdon and New York.

Fukuoka, Masanobu 1978 The One Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, translated by Chris Pearce, Tsune Kurosawa and Larry Korn. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.

Furseth, Inger (ed.) 2017 Religious Complexity in the Public Sphere: Comparing Nordic Countries. Palgrave, Cham.

Gustafson, Hans (ed.) forthcoming Interreligious Studies: Dispatches from the Field. Baylor University Press, Waco, TX.

Hahn, Thich Nhat 1988 The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation, translated by Mobi Ho. Beacon Press, Boston.

Halafoff, Anna 2006 UnAustralian Values. In Refereed Conference Proceedings, UNAUSTRALIA Conference. University of Canberra, Canberra.

2010 Netpeace and the Cosmopolitan Condition: Multifaith Movements and the Politics of Understanding. Political Theology 11(5): 717–37. https://doi.org/10.1558/poth.v11i5.717

2013 The Multifaith Movement: Global Risks and Cosmopolitan Solutions. Springer, Dordrecht.

2014 Riots, Mass Casualties, and Religious Hatred: Countering Anti-cosmopolitan Terror through Intercultural and Interreligious Understanding. In Controversies in Contemporary Religions, 3 vols, edited by Paul Hedges, 293–312. Praeger, Santa Barbara.

2015 Special Religious Instruction and Worldviews Education in Victoria’s Schools: Social Inclusion, Citizenship and Countering Extremism. Journal of Intercultural Studies 36(3): 362–79.

2016 Governance and Religious Diversity in Australia: Multifaith Relations and Religious Instruction in the State of Victoria. In The Politics and Practice of Religious Diversity: National Contexts, Global Issues, edited by Andrew Dawson, 101–17. Routledge, Abingdon and New York.

2018 Interfaith Youth in Australia: A Critical Reflection on Religious Diversity, Literacy and Identity. In A Critical Analysis of Religious Diversity, edited by Lene Kuhle, Jorn Borup and William Hoverd, 230–51. Brill, Leiden.

Halafoff, Anna, Elisabeth Arweck and Donald Boisvert (eds) 2016 Education about Religions and Worldviews: Promoting Intercultural and Interreligious Understanding in Secular Societies. Routledge, Abingdon and New York.

Halafoff, Anna, Ruth Fitzpatrick and Kim Lam 2012 Buddhism in Australia: An Emerging Field of Study. Journal of Global Buddhism 13: 9–25.

Halafoff, Anna, and Laura Gobey 2018 “Whatever”? Religion, Youth, and Identity in 21st Century Australia. In Youth, Religion and Identity in a Globalizing Context, edited by Peter Beyer, Spencer Bulllivant and Paul Gareau, 255–77. Brill, Leiden.

Halafoff, Anna, Jane Garrod and Laura Gobey 2018 Women and Ultramodern Buddhism in Australia. Religions 9(47): 1–16.

Halafoff, Anna, and Kim Lam 2015 Lagging Behind Other Nations: The Religion and Schools Debate in Australia. In Issues in Religion and Education: Whose Religion?, edited by Lori G. Beaman and Leo Van Arragon, 321–45. Brill, Leiden.

Halafoff, Anna, Kim Lam and Gary Bouma 2019 Worldviews Education: Cosmopolitan Peacebuilding and Preventing Violent Extremism. Journal of Beliefs and Values 40(3): 381–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/13617672.2019.1600113

Jackson, Robert 2014 ‘Signposts’: Policy and Practice for Teaching about Religions and Non-Religious Worldviews in Intercultural Education. Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg.

Johnston, William (ed.) 1973 The Cloud of Unknowing. Doubleday, New York.

L’Engle, Madeleine 1963 A Wrinkle in Time. Puffin Books, London.

Lentini, Peter, Anna Halafoff and Ela Ogru 2009 Perceptions of Multiculturalism and Security in Victoria: Report to the Department of Premier and Cabinet, State Government of Victoria. Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, Melbourne.

Lentini, Peter, Ela Ogru and Anna Halafoff 2011 With Grounded Optimism? Evidence Based Perceptions of Muslims in Victoria. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 22(4): 409–32.

Markus, Andrew 2018 Mapping Social Cohesion: The Scanlon Foundation Surveys 2018. Monash University, Melbourne.

Mascaro, Juan (trans.) 1965 The Upanishads. Penguin Books, London.

McGuire, Meredith 2008 Lived Religion: Faith and Practice in Everyday Life. Oxford University Press, New York.

Plant, Judith (ed.) 1989 Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC.

Rabjam, Longchen 2001 The Precious Treasury on the Basic Space of Phenomena, translated by Richard Barron. Padma Publishing, Junction City, California.

Rocha, Cristina, and Michelle Barker (eds) 2011 Buddhism in Australia: Traditions in Change. Routledge, Abingdon and New York.

Santideva [7th century] 1997 A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, translated by Vesna A. Wallace and B. Alan Wallace. Snow Lion Publisher’s, New York.

Singleton, Andrew, Mary Lou Rasmussen, Anna Halafoff and Gary D. Bouma 2019 Australia’s Generation Z Study: Australia’s Teenagers Negotiating Religion, Sexuality and Diversity. Project report. ANU, Deakin and Monash Universities.

Tolkien, J. R. R. 1966 [1937] The Hobbit. Unwin Books, London.

Tzu, Lao 1990 Tao te Ching, translated by Victor H. Mair. Bantum Books, New York.

Woodhead, Linda 2012 New Forms of Public Religion: Findings and Reflections from the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme. Keynote address presented at the New Forms of Public Religion Conference, St. John’s College, Cambridge, September 5-7.



How to Cite

Halafoff, A. (2020). A Personal and Scholarly Reflection on Sociology of Religion, Peacebuilding and Spaciousness. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 32(2-3), 234-247. https://doi.org/10.1558/jasr.40154