Kaia Rønsdal

Associate Professor - Fagseksjonen
Image of Kaia Rønsdal
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22850392
Mobile phone +47 92649100
Room 137
Visiting address Domus Theologica Blindernveien 9 0371 Oslo
Postal address Postboks 1023 Blindern 0315 Oslo

Research Interests

My research interests have developed from experiences as a professional social worker.

I wanted a meaningful job that aid people to live good lives. The problem was that I had not reflected much on what a "good life" is. My professional training and my first jobs never challenged this question, because there were already answers. I also understood early on that there are dimensions of human beings I find exciting and important, which one does not really get to explore in such jobs, because there are specific guidelines for what should take place and how the relationships should be. In other words, it was human encounters in the professional practice that created questions and challenges, and when I took an experience-based master's degree, I experienced that practice itself opened up for broader discussions and opportunities, in conversations with other, often similar practices. For me, the spaces where someone is doing something, a practice, form the basis for wonder, discussion, openings and opportunities, and are defining for the kind of research I enjoy doing. I am also very concerned with the where of the practice, and the significance of the spaces, both physical and relational, of what takes place.

The research I have been doing has always been based on this belief that it is the encounters and the practice, and the spaces where these are, that form the basis for new knowledge and new questions. This has also been something I have worked on in relation to method, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to gather knowledge from practice, especially based on the spaces. In research with people, it is an important challenge to find the balance between one's own research communication and giving space and voice to those with whom one is researching. This challenge, ie not depriving others of space and voice, is part of all relationships we enter into, both professionally and privately. This topic is the most central for me as a researcher.

Both my dissertation on marginalization in public sphere, and my postdoctoral project on understandings of hospitality in relation to migration, are really about who is given space and a voice, where, how and in what ways.

My dissertation Calling Bodies in Lived Spaces: Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space combines perspectives from spatial theory, ethics and fieldwork. It focuses on the tensions and contradictions in lived spaces through observations of encounters and interaction between different groups in public urban space . It is an interdisciplinary contribution to the science of diaconia. The interest lies in the lives that diaconia has traditionally been concerned with and the spaces in which these lives are lived. The dissertation explores the concept of calling through narratives about these lives and spaces. Furthermore, it challenges and contributes to traditional ideas about calling as it is understood in the Scandinavian context. These notions of calling, which have their origins in Lutheran interpretations, place the calling among and between humans, as opposed to it being something that is exclusively divine and ecclesial.

In my postdoctoral project, Magnificent Encounters in Borderland, I explore borderland issues from three different perspectives. These are spatial theory, theology and phenomenology, all as a basis for methodology and theology development. Central to all of these is the body.

Space is actively understood as an intricate web of relationships and circumstances that are constantly produced and reproduced. Spaces are formative. The analysis thus relates to active production processes. In the Nordic borderlands, both those who arrive and the ones already there all produce space, and these spaces exist from the moment they enter each other's embodied sphere.

The theological perspective is based on Scandinavian creation theology. This theological tradition is central to Nordic cultural and religious heritage, and can thus be a lens for uncovering and interpreting Nordic hospitality. It has to do with our view of humanity, that we are constantly responsible for the ongoing creation, and for our constantly created fellow human beings. The other has always been a central figure and phenomenon for theology, where the task has been to perceive the other. In phenomenology, the fact that we share [created] life, reality and the world makes us part of the same lifeworld. Reality is thus open, which allows for thinking about otherness and change for the world. This is a normative, philosophical, life-interpreting perspective on God, life, humans and the world.

Borderlands are areas where traditional oppositions between secular and sacred, religion and politics, ethics and emic are discussed and reconfigured. In the practical, empirical world [lived space], there are rarely such binaries. A spatial interpretation is always triadic, it rejects all binaries, there is always something third. This premise challenges us to expand beyond the binaries from the outset.

Now I am primarily researching topics in the intersections between migration and religion. When religion and migration meet, new spaces, new relationships, new challenges and new questions appears. In these there is an enormous potential for development of new knowledge and sharing, which can contribute in a range of practical and academic fields.

Interests: Citizenship, migration and religion, phenomenology, professional ethics, science of diaconia, urbanity and space

Academic Interests

Human Encounter, Religion and Migration, Dialogue, Marginalisation, Citizenhsip, Spatial Theory, Urbanity, Christian Social Practice, Diaconia


  • PhD: “Calling Bodies in Lived Space. Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space” (2016).
  • Master degree in Professional Ethics and Science of Diaconia, Faculty of Theology (2006)
  • Bachelor, child welfare officer, Sør-Trøndelag University College (2002)
  • Professional experience from work and practices directed at substance users.
Tags: Systematic Theology, Migration, Diaconia, Phenomenology of Religion, Professional Ethics, Spatial theory


Rønsdal, Kaia (2020), We were Invited to Friendships. In:Approaching religion, 2020-10-01, Vol.10 (2), EISSN: 1799-3121 DOI: 10.30664/ar.92002

Rønsdal, Kaia (2019), Hospitality in the hands of who? In: Contested Hospitalities in a Time of Migration: Religious and Secular Counterspaces in the Nordic Region (2019) Edited by; Synnøve Bendixsen, Trygve Wyller Religion, Resistance, Hospitalities Series Routledge ISBN-13: 978-0367222109 ISBN-10: 0367222108

Rønsdal, Kaia (2018), Calling Bodies in Lived Spaces: Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space (2018). Research in Contemporary Religion Series Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Gmbh & Co ISBN-10: 3525570910 ISBN-13: 978-3525570913

Rønsdal, Kaia (2018), Hverdagsmarginalisering og bytilhørighet (Everyday Marginalisation and Urban Belonging) (2018) In: Rom og etikk: Fortellinger om ambivalens (Space and Ethics: Narratives on Ambivalence) Edited by: Inger Marie Lid, Trygve Wyller Cappelen Damm Akademisk https://press.nordicopenaccess.no/index.php/noasp/catalog/book/18

Rønsdal, Kaia (2016), Murmurs of pastoral care?, in Hans-Joachim Sander/Kaspar Villadsen/ Trygve Wyller (eds.) The Spaces of Others – Heterotopic Spaces Practicing and Theorizing Hospitality and CounterConduct beyond the Religion/Secular Border, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht GbmH. ISBN 9783525604557. Pp. 121 – 142

  • Rønsdal, Kaia (2021). As Religion and Migration Intersects: Toward a World of Neighbours . Dialog. ISSN 0012-2033. 60(3), p. 278–284. doi: 10.1111/dial.12687.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia (2021). Is it Different? Explorations of Empirical Diaconia Research. Diaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice. ISSN 1869-3261. 12(1), p. 79–93. doi: 10.13109/diac.2021.12.1.79.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia (2020). We were Invited to Friendships – Lived Hospitality. Approaching Religion. ISSN 1799-3121. 10(2), p. 20–36. doi: 10.30664/ar.92002. Full text in Research Archive
  • Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2019). Hospitality in the Hands of Who? In Wyller, Trygve & Bendixsen, Synnøve Kristine Nepstad (Ed.), Contested Hospitalities in a Time of Migration. Religion and Secular Counterspaces in the Nordic Region. Routledge. ISSN 978-0367222109. doi: 10.4324/9780429273773.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia (2018). Spaces of Diaconia. Diaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice. ISSN 1869-3261. 9(1), p. 73–84.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2017). Hverdagsmarginalisering og bytilhørighet. In Lid, Inger Marie & Wyller, Trygve (Ed.), Rom og etikk. Fortellinger om ambivalens. Cappelen Damm Akademisk. ISSN 978-82-02-53500-1. p. 55–72.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2016). Murmurs of Pastoral Care? In Wyller, Trygve ; Villadsen, Kaspar & Sander, Hans-Joachim (Ed.), The Spaces of Others - Heterotopic Spaces. Practicing and Theorizing Hospitality and Counter-Conduct beyond the Religion/Secular Divide. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISSN 978-3-525-60455-7. p. 121–142.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2013). Citizenship and the Recognition of the Other - The Impact for Christian Social Practice. In Eurich, Johannes & Hübner, Ingolf (Ed.), Diaconia against Poverty and Exclusion in Europe. Challenges - Contexts - Perspectives. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt - Wissenschaft. ISSN 9783374031689. p. 227–241.
  • Schultz, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye (2011). CSP - Caught between Marshall and Belonging. A Discussion of Contemporary CSP and Citizenship Theory. Diaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice. ISSN 1869-3261. 2(1), p. 14–28.

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  • Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2018). Calling Bodies in Lived Space. Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 9783525570913. 27(1). 202 p.

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  • Rønsdal, Kaia & Nahnfeldt, Cecilia (2021). Conceptions of Dialogical Hospitality: The Ugly Side of Hospitality, Contemporary Christian-Cultural Values: Migration Encounters in the Nordic Region. Routledge. ISSN 9780367495664. p. 193–200.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia & Nahnfeldt, Cecilia (2021). Introduction: The Pursuit of Common Grounds – Conceptualizing Values and Encounters, Contemporary Christian-Cultural Values: Migration Encounters in the Nordic Region. Routledge. ISSN 9780367495664. p. 1–18.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia (2021). Addressing the Spatial Turn in Diaconia . In Ampony, Godwin; Büscher, Martin E. H.; Hofmann, Beate; Ngnintedem, Félicité; Solon, Dennis T. & Werner, Dietrich (Ed.), International handbook on ecumenical diakonia: Contextual theologies and practices of diakonia and Christian social services - resources for study and intercultural learning. Regnum Books. ISSN 978-1-913363-91-8. p. 515–520. doi: https%3A/doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv1v08zwm.79.
  • Solevåg, Anna Rebecca; Skippervold, Petter & Schultz, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye (2010). Religion og normativitet fra Århus. Norsk Teologisk Tidsskrift. ISSN 0029-2176. 111(3), p. 216–226.
  • Rønsdal, Kaia Dorothea Mellbye Schultz (2017). Calling Bodies in Lived Space - Spatial Explorations on the Concept of Calling in a Public Urban Space. Universitetet i Oslo. ISSN 1502-010X.

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Published Feb. 19, 2010 11:16 AM - Last modified Jan. 26, 2022 2:22 PM


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