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New researchers at PThU

Henk Vogel

Henk Vogel MA will be appointed as a PhD candidate at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam. On 1 October 2018, he starts a research project on the ritual-musical appropriation of Psalms in Dutch culture between 1990 and 2000. Prof. dr. Marcel Barnard and dr. Mirella Klomp will supervise the project.

With the diminishing role and position of churches in the Netherlands nowadays, one might expect the Psalms to disappear from the broader domain of culture. This seems, however, not the case: their texts are translated over and over again, and feature in many new (re)mediations in a variety of musical and textual styles and contexts. The Psalms appear in or are even placed at the very core of music festivals, large recording, composition, and translation projects by composers, ensembles, bands, poets, songwriters and literary authors alike, in contexts varying from concert halls to summer camps, from music TV shows to churches.

This project aims to gain insight into the ritual contexts in which these appropriations take part: which actors (listeners, performers, creators, etc.) engage in sensible (ritual) interactions. How do they, for example, articulate ‘the sacred’, ‘God’ or ‘the secular’ in their textual, musical, ritual, embodied practices?

The project will consider different cases, which demand different approaches and methods: some of the events have taken place years ago and are mostly ‘accessible’ via archival materials, while other cases concern events which are organized today.

Henk has long been intrigued by performance, music, ritual and liturgy in the ever-shifting and re-created boundaries between religion, church, politics or the ‘public domain’. His master’s thesis considered church music on the Tercentenary of the Reformation (1817) in the Netherlands, as taking part in processes of performing and constructing a transnational Protestant (anti-Catholic) identity and community on the basis of the mythologized past of the Reformation.


Celestin Nsengimana

Rev. Célestin Nsengimana is a PhD candidate at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam. He works on a PhD research project titled “Genocide Commemoration and reconciliation in Rwanda. Description and Analysis from a Liturgical Ritual Perspective.” Nsengimana is also a Presbyterian Minister from Rwanda (Africa).

In an ideal situation, genocide commemoration creates a space where regular contact of ritual performers around genocide memorials restore and consolidate relationships, not only by reducing prejudices and stereotypes, but also by balancing the concepts of truth telling, trust building, repentance, justice, forgiveness and  symbolic reparation which have been canonized as instruments of reconciliation in post-conflict societies.   Additionally, the church constitutes a liminal encounter of symbolic interaction between the visible and invisible worlds, as well as between the living and the living dead beyond ordinary ways of coping with crisis. 

Therefore, the researcher is carrying out a qualitative research using a theological ethnography design to investigate how the liturgical ritual of genocide commemoration at Kirinda parish of the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda is shaped and appropriated, and how it does contribute to the process of reconciliation in the post-genocide Rwandan community. He will further relate the liturgical ritual of genocide commemoration to the overall Presbyterian liturgical repertoire, to the program of genocide commemoration at national level and to the Rwandan policy of unity and reconciliation before exploring Perceptions of participants and expectations generated by the liturgical ritual of genocide commemoration with regard to reconciliation of different groups of people in Rwanda.

Rev. Célestin Nsengimana holds a Master’s degree of Arts in Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation issued by the University of Rwanda in 2014. His PhD supervisors are prof. dr. Marcel Barnard (Protestant Theological University) and dr. Martin Hoondert (Tilburg University). In 2015, his Master’s Thesis on “Peacebuilding initiatives of the Presbyterian Church in the Post-genocide Rwandan Society. An Impact Assessment” was published by Globethics.net, a publishing house based in Geneva.