Paul Gifford

Emeritus Professor of Religion

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

From September 19 to October 9, 2017

Biography —

He was born in New Zealand. He has studied in Wellington, Rome, Oxford and Uppsala. He began his teaching career at the University of Zimbabwe, and has taught at the University of Leeds, and since 1992 in the department of the Study of Religion in the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. He has conducted major research on New Developments in African Christianity (1989-92) for the Nairobi-based All African Conference of Churches, and on African Civil Society (1989-92) funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Among his major publications are Christianity and Power in Doe’s Liberia (1993), African Christianity: its Public Role (1997), Ghana’s New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy (2004), Christianity, Politics and Public Life in Kenya (2009), Christianity, Development and Modernity in Africa (2015). He currently lives in Ethiopia where his wife directs an institute of UNESCO. 

Project —

A monograph entitled The changing nature of Western Religion. Religions have traditionally related to forces beyond the human realm, deemed determinative of our circumstances and fate, whom we could influence (for example, by prayer). Most peoples in the world still practice such religions. However, in the last few hundred years, as a result of a new consciousness brought about by the rise of science and technology, bureaucracy and capitalism, awareness of such forces has receded to the periphery, which has led not only to many ceasing to be religious but also to the ‘internal secularisation’ of remaining Western religion.