Miss Christina Petterson

PhD, Mtheol.
Gerda Henkel Research Fellow
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Christian Studies (Incl. Biblical Studies And Church History) 220401
  • European History (Excl. British, Classical Greek And Roman) 210307
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205
  • Postcolonial Studies 200211

Research interests

My main research interest is looking at Christianity through the lenses of theology, history and cultural theory. Over the years this has taken place through analyses of eighteenth century Germany, Danish colonialism in Greenland, and New Testament studies. 

My interests in European history in the 15th to 18th centuries are focussed on social change, the role of Christianity and the emergence and consolidation of capitalism, including colonialism and missions. My PhD thesis was on the relationship between Protestant ideology and colonialism in the Danish mission to Greenland and how Protestantism helped implement racial hierarchies, gender roles and abstract social relations in Greenlandic society. My interest in New Testament relate to questions of method, language, economics and interpretation. My latest book deals with the relationship between text and the body of Jesus in John's gospel. Rather than a religious study, I would regard this as a philosophical exploration of the relationship between text and reality, and the ideology of writing in our understandings of body and death. I have also done work in Hebrews, Ephesians, and the Acts of the Apostles.

At the moment I am completing a bookmanuscript based on archival studies of 400 speeches given by the founder of the Moravian Brethren (Herrnhuter Brüdergemeinde), Count Zinzendorf to the congregation in Herrnhut (eastern Germany) in the mid-eighteenth century. The speeches are in handwritten German, and are fabulous sources to the changes in social relations, the establishment of gender roles, and individualisation.

The project I will be working on here at the ANU is called

Balancing Economy and Christ: The Brüdergemeinde in Greenland and Australia

and is a two year research project funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. It is a comparative project which analyses the change in social relations with the advent of capitalism in the missionary practice of the global Protestant missions of the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeinde to Greenland (1733-1901) and the Australian colonies (1848-1919). Drawing on unpublished archival material (church records, correspondence, journals, and ledgers), the project aims to show how the missionary practice of the Brüdergemeinde changed from an earlier approach, practiced in Greenland, and embedded in a local subsistence economy to a more dis-embedded economic approach, practiced in Australia; and analyse how this affected the missionaries’ attitude to and engagements with the Indigenous populations.

In 2018 I will be part of a network on the Danish Moravian settlement of Christiansfeld, a UNESCO cultural heritage site. This 3 year network, whose core-members are 5 colleagues from Denmark and myself  is funded by The Independent Research Fund Denmark (FFR).


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Updated:  15 June 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers