How to contact us

Programme for the Study of Religion and Non-Religion
London School of Economics
Department of Anthropology
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE



Coordinator: Matthew Engelke  


Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 6775




Seminar Series

Please send an email to Effie Fokas at for further information.

Past Seminars

Special Seminar Series Michaelmas 2013

Dates: Every Wednesday, 16 October – 11 December 2013
Time: 4.30 pm – 6.30 pm
Venue: Seligman Library, 6th Floor, Old Building, Houghton Street

“Religion,” Cognition and the State
Professor Maurice Bloch (LSE)

The seminar series will deal with two issues. One concerns the specificity of human sociality as it contrasts with that of other primates. The second deals with what has been called the anthropology of religion. The central argument will be that many of the specificities of what has been called “religion” appear to be merely aspects of the general nature of human sociality.

The discussion of sociality will focus on the way humans have created apparently time resistant, stable representations of social relations. The discussion will thus start with a consideration of the temporal aspects of all concepts, but will concentrate on social concepts. The human capacity for what has been called “time travel” will be a recurrent theme. Among the theoretical topics considered will be essentialism, pretend play in children, ritual, deference and performatives. Examples will concern social roles and institutions. Incidentally I shall discuss why gay marriage is such an issue especially in France.

The discussion of the anthropology of religion will concentrate on explaining under what historical circumstances the kind of phenomenon that the English word religion evokes arise. In Max Gluckman’s terms, I shall seek to show how and when religion becomes “disembedded.” This will involve a consideration of the state and kingship in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, Peru and Madagascar. Then the significance of the collapse of divine states in Africa, the Indian sub-continent, ancient Israel and ancient Rome will be examined. Finally there will be a discussion of Shamanism and spirit possession in the light of the earlier discussion.

Maurice Bloch, emeritus professor of anthropology at LSE, is one of the most influential anthropologists of the past 40 years. His work on ritual and religion is foundational to several discussions in anthropology and related fields, most notably, in recent years, cognitive science and experimental psychology. He is a fellow of the British Academy and was appointed European Professor at the Collège de France in 2005.

For more information contact Dr Matthew Engelke, 


2013 Summer Term Seminar

22nd July 2013 Secular Temples
Courtney Bender (Columbia University), Chair: Lois Lee (Kent University)
Co-sponsored with the Centre for Religion in Contemporary Society, University of Kent 


2013 Lent Term Seminars

27 February 2013  Universities as Sites of Religious Encounter: The Christian Undergraduate in Pursuit of Identity
Mathew Guest (Durham)

23 January 2013  'Bringing Secularity (Back) into International Relations: Immanence, Agency and Intervention' (Audra Mitchell (University of York)) and 'Secular Ways of War'
Stacey Gutkowski (King's College, London)


2012 Michaelmas Term Seminar

7 November Britain’s New Religious Landscape
Professor Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University), Chair: Dr Matthew Engelke (LSE)


2012 Summer Term Seminar

9 May Religion and Non-Religion: a roundtable discussion
With Dr Amanda van Eck (LSE INFORM), Dr Matthew Engelke (LSE Anthropology), Dr Simon Glendenning (LSE European Institute), Dr John Madeley (LSE Government) and Rev. James Walters (LSE Chaplaincy)

2012 Lent Term Seminars

7 March Seminar on Primordialists and Constructionists: from nationalism to religion (Dr. Eric Kaufmann, Department of Politics, Birkbeck College; and Professor David Martin, LSE Professor Emeritus)

1 February Seminar on sermons in the village and evangelising in the city, 'The Metropolis and Evangelical Life: coherence and fragmentation in "the lost city of London"' (Anna Strhan, PhD Candidate, Department of Religious Studies, University of Kent ) and 'Eating words through the ear: sermons as sacrifice' (Dr Joseph Webster, Research Fellow in Social Anthropology, Downing College, Cambridge University)


2011 Michaelmas Term Seminar

7 December Seminar on critical intersections between religion and law, 'Researching "cults" and "extremism": methodological challenges and legal risks' (Amanda van Eck, Deputy Director, Inform, LSE) and 'A battle of truths, or of wills? The interface between libel law and religion' (Andrew Scott, Senior Lecturer, Department of Law, LSE)

2 November Seminar on sacred action and symbolic ritual 'Sacred Action: what social policy can learn from religious groups' (Timothy Stacey,  Faiths and Civil Society Unit, Goldsmiths) and 'Sacraments and simulacra: the role of symbolic ritual in Jean Baudrillard's critique of capitalism' (Revd Dr Jim Walters, LSE Chaplaincy) 


2011 Lent and Summer Term Seminars

1 June Seminar on Claims of religious continuity, 'Reclaiming our natural faith: the Nation of Islam in 1930's Detroit’ (Dawn-Marie Gibson, Dept. of History, Royal Holloway, University of London) and 'Speaking of continuity… Religious change and moral dilemmas among Christian Bidayuhs in Malaysian Borneo’ (Liana Chua, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge)

18 May Seminar on Religious influences on American public attitudes on foreign policy (Professor Jim Guth, Dept. of Political Science, Furman University, USA)

4 May Seminar on Human rights and human security, 'The right of identity. Human rights and religious freedom in contemporary Egypt’ (Daniele Bolazzi, Dept. of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies, King's College, London) and 'De-secularizing "Bare Life": Religion, identity and critical human security' (Giorgio Shani, Dept. of Politics and Int'l Relations, Int'l Christian University, Tokyo)

9 March Seminar on Islam and Islamism in theory and in practice, ‘Islamism as Communitarianism: a Political Theory Approach to non-Liberal Paradigms’ (Filippo Dionigi, Department of International Relations, LSE) and 'The transition to an Islamic identity of the Khoja of Zanzibar in the late 19th and early 20th century’ (Iqbal Akhtar, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh)

2 February Seminar on Religion and the European Union, 'Representing Religion in the European Union: Actors and Strategies' (Lucian Leustean, Department of Politics and International Relations, Aston University) and 'Religion in the EU: Actors, Priorities and Policy Communities' (Sara Silvestri, International Politics Department, City University London & VHI, Cambridge)


2010 Michaelmas Term Seminars

1 December Seminar on Social Welfare and Social Representation, 'The Politics of Religiously Motivated Welfare Provision: the Turkish Case in Comparative Perspective' (Ipek Goecmen, Max Plank Institute for the Study of Societies) and 'The Crisis of Representation: case studies from the United States, Indonesia, and the Russian Federation' (Rev'd Stephen Headley, French National Centre for Scientific Research)

17 November Seminar on demographics and the future of religion and secularism: 'Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? The Demographic Return of Faith in the 21st Century' (Eric Kaufmann, Department of Politics, Birkbeck College)

6 October Seminar on Eastern and Western Christianity, and Secularisation, Compared: 'Orthodoxy in the Second World, Pentecostalism in the Two-Thirds World' (David Martin, Emeritus Professor, LSE) AND 'Patterns of Secularization: Church, State and Nation in Greece and Ireland' (Daphne Halikiopoulou, Department of Government, LSE)


2010 Lent and Summer Term Seminars

3 June Seminar on religion, immigration and the far right: 'Home-grown terror, anti-Muslimism and the politics of fear: the rise of the far-right in today's Britain' (Christopher Allen, University of Birmingham) AND 'Religion, secularisation and anti-immigration attitudes: the case of Greece' (Georgios Karyotis and Stratos Patrikios, Department of Government, University of Strathclyde)

6 May Seminar on Muslim identities: 'Bosnian Muslims in New England: identity maintenance and integration patterns' (Kristen Lucken, Boston University) AND 'Exploring identity in the British educational landscape: a glimpse into the aspirations and participation of parents with a Muslim background' (Malik Ajani, Royal Holloway, University of London)

4 March 'Intolerance and Persecution of Religious Deviance Within Islam: The Case of the Ahmadiyya Community in Indonesia' (John Sidel, Department of Government, LSE)

4 February 'Money Matters. Live and Let buy? Consumerism, Secularisation and Liberalism' (Guy Ben-Porat, Department of Public Policy and Administration, Ben-Gurion University, Israel) AND 'Spiritualised Work, Recession and Self?' (John Cullen, Department of Business and Law at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth)


2009 Michaelmas Term Seminars

3 December Presentation of Documentary series 'Life in an Enclave' (Yohai Hakak, School of Health Sciences and Social Work, University of Portsmouth)

12 November 'Theories of European Integration and Religion' (Francois Foret, Department of Political Science, Université Libre de Bruxelles)

22 October: The 'Fundamentalist' vs. the 'Modernising' Monks of Mount Athos: Two contrasting forms of engagement with the 'cosmopolitan' world (Michelangelo Paganopoulos, Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London) AND The Modernity of Fundamentalism: an explanation of the growth of ultra-orthodox Judaism in Israel and beyond (David Lehmann, Department of Sociology, Cambridge University)


2009 Lent and Summer Term Seminars

4 June 2009: Religion and Party Politics in Western Democracies - from Crucification to Resurrection (Michael Minkenberg, Max Weber Chair for German and European Studies, New York University)

21 May 2009: Believing in theory: religion and continental philosophy (Shahidha Bari, Queen Mary College, English Department), AND Divine plan and democratic process in a Pacific Islands nation-state (Michael Scott, LSE, Anthropology)

7 May 2009: Religious identities, resistance and migration. Experiences of Muslim Pomaks in Bulgaria, 1970-2005 (Lenka Nahodilova, University College London, Anthropology), AND Religion and international relations (Katerina Dalacoura, LSE, International Relations)

12 March 2009: From Protestant England to Multi-Faith Britain? Conceptions of the religious nation in 1980s Britain (Liza Filby, Warwick University, History Department), AND Everyday ghosts: relocating the power and significance of supernatural experience (Abby Day, University of Sussex, Anthropology Department)

26 February 2009: Christian anarchist theory (Alexandre Christoyannnopoulos, University of Kent, Department of Politics and International Relations), AND Spiritual but not religious: what does this mean? (Eileen Barker, LSE, INFORM and Sociology department)

2 February 2009: Learning to read in an English Benedictine monastery (Richard Irvine, Cambridge University, Department of Social Anthropology), AND The use of a mosaic typology in the Gospel of Matthew in order to fulfil the Torah (Paul Dimmock, King's College, Theology and Religious Studies)


2008 Michaelmas Term Seminars

11 December 2008:The Empire Strikes Back? Mission in the Worldwide Anglican Communion (Rebecca Catto, Exeter University, Department of Sociology), AND Accusations of Demon Possession and witchcraft against children in the UK African diaspora (Jean La-Fontaine, LSE, Anthropology Department)

27 November 2008:Approaching Women and Retreating Gods: Lineage Cults, Sacrificial Worship and Modern Consumerism in a Village in Tamil Nadu (Indira Arumugam,
LSE, Anthropology Department), AND The anomaly of Hindu-Muslim 'syncretism' in a divided Gujarat: an analysis of religious identities in a local Sufi shrine (Carolyn Heitmeyer, LSE, Anthropology Department)

13 November 2008: 'Sectarian socialization' - experiences of those raised in sectarian movements (Amanda van Eck, LSE, Inform), AND Bible Society: Engaging the public in contemporary England (Matthew Engelke, LSE, Anthropology Department)

30 October 2008:Hadrian: from a Jewish perspective (Nathan Alfred, International Jewish Center, Brussels), AND Learning from history? The failure to assimilate Muslims in sixteenth-century Spain (Mia Rodriguez-Salgado, LSE, History Department)

16 October 2008: Blasphemy, freedom of expression and human rights (Cassandra Patrick, Roehampton University, Department of Theology and Religious Studies), AND Isaiah Berlin's value pluralism and multi-faith religious education (Hugo Whatley, King's College, Department for Education and Professional Studies)


2008 Lent and Summer Term Seminars

21 May 2008: Justin Gest (LSE Government Department) on 'The Bande À Part: Young Muslims and the Democratically Alienated', AND Abby Day (University of Sussex Anthropology post-doctoral fellow) on 'Believing in Belonging: An Exploration of the Social Contexts and Constructions of Belief'.

7 May 2008: Fang-Long Shih (LSE Taiwan Culture Research Programme) on 'Politics, Culture and Religion in Taiwan'

19 March 2008: George St. Clair (LSE, Anthropology) on 'An underground Pentecostal movement in Sao Paulo', AND Paul-Francois Tremlett (SOAS Research Fellow) on 'Post-structuralism and the Bible in the Philippines: high theory or critical amnesia?'

5 March 2008: Sarah Abramson (LSE, Sociology) on 'Continuity and Anglo-Jewish youth movements', AND Yohai Hakak (LSE, Sociology post-doctoral fellow) on 'Excellence of equality in the name of God: the case of Ultra Orthodox enclave education in Israel'.

20 February 2008: Ronan McCrea (LSE, European Institute) on 'Limitations on religion in a liberal democratic polity: Christianity and Islam in the Public Order of the European Union', AND Meyda Yegenoglu (Middle East Technical University, Ankara) on 'Veiled threats and Islam in Europe'.