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Researching Religion

An LSE Research Festival and LSE Faith Centre panel discussion

Tuesday 6 May 2014 from 18:30 to 20:00

LSE Faith Centre, Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

Confirmed speakers: Nick Spencer, Dr. Matthew Engelke, Magdalena Delgado, Teresa Whitney

Chair: Madeline Bunting

As part of LSE Research Festival 2014, LSE Research Festival and LSE Faith Centre are holding an evening panel discussion focusing on the particular fieldwork challenges faced by those conducting research on religion and faith. The panel will discuss questions such as the extent to which personal or religious beliefs or background matter in relation to research, whether a background of religion or faith compromises the researcher's intellectual or academic abilities, and how far research on religion should be allowed to shape or be shaped by the beliefs of the researcher. Methodological questions as to how exactly one is to 'measure' faith or belief will also be touched upon.

This event is being run collaboratively by LSE Research Festival and LSE Faith Centre. The LSE Faith Centre is a new state of the art multi-faith facility like no other in UK higher education. It exists to provide the facilities for prayer and religious worship on campus, but also as a space for interfaith dialogue and discussion. Together with LSE Research Festival, whose mission is to celebrate social science research, we would like to take the opportunities provided by the opening of our new Faith Centre to begin a dialogue on some of the fascinating topics mentioned above.


  • This event is being chaired by Madeleine Bunting, author, Guardian columnist and Associate Editor. She writes on social and political change, often with a focus on religion. She was awarded the Race in the Media award in 2005 by the Commission for Racial Equality for her work on the British Muslim community.
  • Nick Spencer is research director at the thinktank Theos, visiting research fellow at the Faith and Civil Society Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the author of a number of books including Darwin and God and Freedom and Order: History, Politics and the English Bible. Prior to joining Theos, Nick worked as a researcher and consultant for Research International, The Henley Centre, the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity and the Jubilee Centre.
  • Dr Matthew Engelke is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and co-ordinates the School’s Programme for the Study of Religion and Non-Religion. His research focuses on the connections between religion and culture, primarily in Africa and Britain. He has conducted in-depth fieldwork on an African Church in Zimbabwe, evangelical Christians in England, and, most recently, secular humanists in Britain.
  • Magdalena Delgado is a third-year doctoral candidate in the Department of International Relation at LSE, where her research focuses on the role of religion in international relations and, specifically, its role in the foreign policies of Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia in the period 1970-1990. Prior to commencing her doctoral studies, Magdalena worked for the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security and, prior to that, for BBC World Service Trust.
  • Teresa Whitney, is a PhD candidate in the Institute of Social Psychology at LSE. Teresa’s background is in communication and sociolinguistics; she received her MA in Communication in 2009 from the University of Washington. Teresa’s research focuses on how identity politics and socio-spatial relations influence group decision-making processes in contact situations, with a focus on religious groups using multi-faith spaces.

Please note that, due to unforeseen circumstances, Mark Vernon will no longer be participating in this event.  


This event is free and open to all but a ticket is required. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Please note that this event is over ticketed - arrive early to avoid disappointment.


This event will be recorded and a podcast will be available 2-3 days after the event.



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