Engelke, Matthew

Professor Matthew Engelke  


Position held

Experience keywords:

Africa; Zimbabwe; human rights and asylum; religion and media; religion and ritual

Research summary > [Click to expand]

Dr Engelke’s research focuses in the broadest sense 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. Throughout this work, he has examined such issues as the importance of textual authority within religious communities; the dynamics of conversion and belief; religion and material culture; religion and media; the role of religion in public life; ritual; and conceptions of the secular and humanism. In addition to these fieldwork-based projects, Dr Engelke has also conducted research in the history of anthropology.

His research has been funded by, among other sources, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Commission, the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the LSE’s Annual Fund.

Countries and regions to which research relates:

Africa; England (concerning Christian communities); Zimbabwe


French [Spoken: Basic, Written: Basic]; Shona [Spoken: Intermediate, Written: Intermediate]

Media experience:


Contact Points

LSE phone number:

+44 (0)20 7955 6494



Engelke, Matthew (2015) Renowned Zimbabwe Writer Chenjerai Hove Remembered Africa at LSE (21 Jul 2015) Blog entry

Engelke, Matthew (2015) "Good without God": happiness and pleasure among the humanists HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 5 (3). 69-91. ISSN 2049-1115

Engelke, Matthew (2015) The coffin question: death and materiality in humanist funerals Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, 11 (1). 26-48. ISSN 1743-2200

Engelke, Matthew (2015) Secular shadows: African, immanent, post-colonial Critical Research on Religion, 3 (1). 86-100. ISSN 2050-3032


Engelke, Matthew (2013) God's agents: Biblical publicity in contemporary England University of California Press, Berkeley, USA. ISBN 9780520280472


Engelke, Matthew (2012) Angels in Swindon: public religion and ambient faith in England American Ethnologist, 39 (1). 155-170. ISSN 0094-0496


Engelke, Matthew (2011) Response to Charles Hirschkind, Religion and transduction Social Anthropology, 19 (1). 97-102. ISSN 0964-0282

Engelke, Matthew (2011) The semiotics of relevance: campaigning for the bible in greater Manchester Anthropological Quarterly, 84 (3). 705-736. ISSN 0003-5491


Engelke, Matthew (2010) Religion and the media turn: a review essay American Ethnologist, 37 (2). 371-379. ISSN 0094-0496

Engelke, Matthew (2010) Number and the imagination of global Christianity; or, mediation and immediacy in the work of Alain Badiou South Atlantic Quarterly, 109 (4). 811-829. ISSN 1527-8026

Engelke, Matthew (2010) Past Pentecostalism: notes on rupture, realignment, and everyday Life in Pentecostal and African Independent Churches Africa: the Journal of the International African Institute, 80 (2). 177-199. ISSN 0001-9720

Robbins, Joel and Engelke, Matthew (2010) Introduction to the special issue: global Christianity, global critique South Atlantic Quarterly, 109 (4). 623-631. ISSN 1527-8026


Engelke, Matthew, ed (2009) The objects of evidence: anthropological approaches to the production of knowledge Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute special Issue book series. Wiley, Chichester, UK. ISBN 9781405192965

Engelke, Matthew (2009) Strategic secularism: bible advocacy in England Social Analysis, 53 (1). 39-54. ISSN 0155-977X

Engelke, Matthew (2009) Reading and time: two approaches to the materiality of scripture Ethnos, 74 (2). 151-174. ISSN 0014-1844


Engelke, Matthew (2008) The objects of evidence Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 14. S1-S21. ISSN 1467-9655


Engelke, Matthew (2007) A problem of presence : beyond scripture in an African Christian church The anthropology of Christianity 2. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA. ISBN 9780520249035


Engelke, Matthew (2006) Clarity and charisma: on the uses of ambiguity in ritual life In: Engelke, Matthew and Tomlinson, Matt, (eds.) The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity. Berghahn Books, New York, US, 63-84. ISBN 978184545170-7

Engelke, Matthew and Tomlinson, Matt, eds (2006) The limits of meaning: case studies in the anthropology of Christianity Berghahn Books, New York. ISBN 1845451708


Engelke, Matthew (2005) The early days of Johane Masowe: Self-doubt, uncertainty, and religious transformation Comparative Studies in Society and History, 47 (4). 781-808. ISSN 0010-4175

Engelke, Matthew (2005) Sticky subjects, sticky objects: The substance of African Christian healing In: Miller, Daniel, (ed.) Materiality. Duke University Press, Durham, 118-139. ISBN 9780822335429


Engelke, Matthew (2004) The endless conversation: fieldwork, writing, and the marriage of Victor and Edith Turner In: Handler, Richard, (ed.) Significant Others: Interpersonal and Professional Commitments in Anthropology. History of anthropology (10). University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, USA, 6-50. ISBN 0299194701

Engelke, Matthew (2004) Discontinuity and the discourse of conversion Journal of Religion in Africa, 34 (1). 82-109. ISSN 0022-4200

Engelke, Matthew (2004) Text and performance in an African church: The Book, "live and direct". American Ethnologist, 31 (1). 76-91. ISSN 0094-0496


Engelke, Matthew (2003) The book, the church, and the "incomprehensible paradox": Christianity in African history Journal of Southern African Studies, 29 (1). 297-306. ISSN 0305-7070


Engelke, Matthew (2002) The problem of belief: Evans-Pritchard and Victor Turner on "the inner life." Anthropology Today, 18 (6). 3-8. ISSN 0268-540X


Engelke, Matthew (2001) The idiom of spirit: possession and ngoma in Africa African Affairs, 100 (398). 143-150. ISSN 0001-9909

Engelke, Matthew (2001) Books can be deceiving: Edith Turner and the problem of categories in anthropology Anthropology and Humanism, 26 (2). 124-133. ISSN 1559-9167


Engelke, Matthew (2000) An interview with Edith Turner Current Anthropology, 41 (5). 843-852. ISSN 0011-3204

Expert Image

Personal website

Based on over three years of anthropological research, Matthew Engelke traces how a small group of socially committed Christians tackle the challenge of publicity within what they understand to be a largely secular culture.

Book Cover Image


Major Review Teaching Award, 2007; Clifford Geertz Prize, Society for the Anthropology of Religion, 2008; The Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, 2009

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