Before pursuing an academic career, I did outreach work, supporting families and young people from various socio-economic backgrounds in the city of Vancouver, Canada. After completing my PhD, I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on projects that examined the negotiation of religious, spiritual and cultural plurality in healthcare contexts at Trinity Western University (Canada), and investigated Canadian families' food practices, a project led by scholars at the University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University. From there, I returned to the UK and worked with colleagues at Durham, Derby and Chester Universities exploring young people's religious identities at English universities. At Kingston, I have mainly taught undergraduate Sociology. I have received two awards for teaching excellence and was a national finalist for a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence by the Higher Education Academy.
Associate Professor of Sociology
My research takes an interdisciplinary approach, spanning the sociology of religion, feminist and health studies, and at various points has engaged with geographies of religion and familial relations and practices.
Previous projects have focused on young women, sexuality and church life, families and food practices, religion in healthcare contexts, young people's religious identities at university, gender and career progression in theology and religious studies, and religion and intimacy between sisters. Most recently, my focus has been on religion in the public spaces of healthcare.
From 2015-18, I have been examining how practices of prayer can be transgressive and hence reinforce and transform experiences of in/equality between groups and individuals. This has been a collaboration with colleagues based in Britain and Canada, with research sites in London and Vancouver (SSHRC). Following on from this research, I have carried out a pilot project with Professor Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham (Trinity Western University, Canada), entitled, 'Living Well Together? Learning from Women Healthcare Chaplains about Religion, Gender and Human Flourishing', supported by Seed Corn funding from the British Sociological Association's Sociology of Religion Study Group (2019). The lacunae to be addressed on this project is the invisibility and significance of women healthcare chaplains' work, particularly in relation to lessons to be learnt about living well together.
Currently, I am involved as a collaborator on a SSHRC funded project 'Mothering and Albinism' (2019-23). With colleagues based in Canada, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania we are mapping patterns of resilience at the juncture of gender, colourism, religion and human rights.
As an educator, I am also interested in the student experience, especially as it relates to friendship, belonging and inclusion. I am presently exploring with second year students their thoughts about these issues as part of being awarded a Kingston University Teaching Fellowship. In the past, I have worked with students and colleagues from Dance, Drama, Music and Media to explore critical understandings of race and ethnicity.
I welcome opportunities to work with doctoral students interested in the sociology of religion, particularly in relation to health inequalities, family, and feminist approaches.
Current and Past Students:
Alison Allen, ' An Exploration of British Millennials' Involvement in International Christian Missions', co-supervised with Sylvie Collins-Mayo, present.
Josh Bullock, 'The Sunday Assembly: The Social Phenomenon of Godless Congregations', co-supervised with Sylvie Collins-Mayo, completed.
Sharma, Sonya, Catalano, Elena, Seetzen, Heidi, Minors, Helen and Collins-Mayo, Sylvia (2019) Taking Race Live : exploring experiences of race through interdisciplinary collaboration in Higher Education. London Review of Education, 17(2), pp. 193-205. ISSN (print) 1474-8460
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Grypma, Sonya, Pesut, Barbara, Sawatzky, Richard and Wolfs, Dorolen (2019) 'The elephant on the table' : religious and ethnic diversity in home health services. Journal of Religion and Health, 58(3), pp. 908-925. ISSN (print) 0022-4197
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Smith, Brenda, Schutt, Kelly and Janzen, Kyla (2018) Expressions of prayer in residential care homes. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 24(2), pp. 67-85. ISSN (print) 0885-4726
Sharma, Sonya (2016) A lateral reading of religion : Christianity in sister relationships. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 31(1), pp. 51-65. ISSN (print) 1353-7903
Sharma, Sonya and Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl (2015) Faith as social capital: diasporic women negotiating religion in secularized healthcare services. Women's Studies International Forum, 49, pp. 34-42. ISSN (print) 0277-5395
Guest, Mathew, Sharma, Sonya, Aune, Kristin and Warner, Rob (2013) Challenging 'belief' and the Evangelical bias: student Christianity in English universities. Journal of Contemporary Religion, 28(2), pp. 207-223. ISSN (print) 1353-7903
Sharma, Sonya and Guest, Mathew (2013) Navigating religion between university and home: Christian students' experiences at English universities. Social & Cultural Geography, 14(1), pp. 59-79. ISSN (print) 1464-9365
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Pesut, Barb, Sawatzky, Rick and Meyerhoff, Heather (2012) Sacred spaces in public places: religious and spiritual plurality in health care. Nursing Inquiry, 19(3), pp. 202-212. ISSN (print) 1320-7881
Sharma, Sonya (2012) Exploring acts of agency within Christian women's sexuality. Fieldwork in Religion, 7(2), pp. 134-147. ISSN (print) 1743-0615
Sharma, Sonya (2012) 'The church is ... my family': exploring the interrelationship between familial and religious practices and spaces. Environment and Planning A, 44(4), pp. 816-831. ISSN (print) 0308-518X
Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Meyerhoff, Heather (2011) Filmmaking with Aboriginal youth for Type 2 Diabetes prevention. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 9(2), pp. 423-440. ISSN (print) 1705-7841
Sharma, Sonya and Chapman, Gwen (2011) Food, photographs and frames: photo elicitation in a Canadian qualitative food study. Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures, 3(1), ISSN (online) 1918-5480
Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Cochrane, Marie (2009) Practising the awareness of embodiment in qualitative health research: methodological reflections. Qualitative Health Research, 19(11), pp. 1642-1650. ISSN (print) 1049-7323
Sharma, Sonya (2008) Young women, sexuality and Protestant church community: oppression or empowerment? European Journal of Women's Studies, 15(4), pp. 345-359. ISSN (print) 1350-5068
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya, Brown, Rachel and Calestani, Melania (2020) Prayer as transgression? : The social relations of prayer in healthcare settings. Montreal, Quebec : McGill-Queen's University Press. 240p. (Advancing Studies in Religion) ISBN 9780228001645 (In Press)
Llewellyn, Dawn and Sharma, Sonya, eds. (2016) Religion, equalities and inequalities. London, U.K. : Routledge. 230p. (Theology and Religion in Interdisciplinary Perspective Series in Association with the BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group) ISBN 9781472439963
Guest, Mathew, Aune, Kristin, Sharma, Sonya and Warner, Rob (2013) Christianity and the university experience: Understanding student faith. London, U.K. : Bloomsbury. 256p. ISBN 9781780936017
Sharma, Sonya (2011) Good girls, good sex: women talk about church and sexuality. Winnipeg, Canada : Fernwood Publishing. 112p. ISBN 9781552664384
Aune, Kristin , Sharma, Sonya and Vincett, Giselle, eds. (2008) Women and religion in the west: challenging secularization. Aldershot, U.K. : Ashgate. 242p. ISBN 9780754658702
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya and Corcoran Smith, Brenda (2020) Spiritual caregiving in long-term care settings : person-centred approaches. In: Taher, Mohamed, (ed.) Multifaith perspectives in spiritual & religious care : change, challenge and transformation. Toronto, Canada : Canadian Multifaith Federation. pp. 285-292. ISBN 9781896377186
McDuff, Nona, Hughes, Annie and Sharma, Sonya (2020) The inclusive curriculum. In: Marshall, Stephanie, (ed.) A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education : enhancing academic practice. 5th ed. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. pp. 106-122. ISBN 9780367200817
Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Cochrane, Marie (2013) Prayer as transgression: stories from healthcare. In: Giordan, Giuseppe and Woodhead, Linda, (eds.) Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion: Prayer in Religion and Spirituality. Leiden, The Netherlands : Brill. pp. 189-204. ISBN 9789004260481
Sharma, Sonya, Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Fowler, Marsha D. (2012) Emergent nonreligious spiritualities. In: Fowler, Marsha D. , Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl , Sawatzy, Richard and Johnston-Taylor, Elizabeth, (eds.) Religion, Religious Ethics, and Nursing. New York, U.S.A. : Springer. pp. 295-312. ISBN 9780826106636
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Sharma, Sonya (2012) Intersectional analyses of religion, culture, ethics, and nursing. In: Fowler, Marsha D. , Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl , Sawatzy, Richard and Johnston-Taylor, Elizabeth, (eds.) Religion, Religious Ethics, and Nursing. New York : Springer. pp. 113-128. ISBN 9780826106636
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl and Sharma, Sonya (2011) Adding religion to gender, race, and class: seeking new insights on intersectionality in health care contexts. In: Hankivsky, O., (ed.) Health inequities in Canada: intersectional frameworks and practices. Vancouver, Canada : University of British Columbia Press. pp. 112-131. ISBN 9780774819756
Reimer-Kirkham, Sheryl, Sharma, Sonya and Corcoran Smith, Brenda (2019) When prayer shows up : the social relations of prayer in healthcare. (Project Report) Langley, BC : Trinity Western University. 27 p. (Unpublished)
Guest, Mathew, Sharma, Sonya and Song, Robert (2013) Gender and career progression in Theology and Religious Studies. (Project Report) Durham, UK : Durham University. 24 p.