Professor Gordon Lynch
Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology
- +44(0)1227 827406
Office: Cornwallis North West 210
The broad focus of my research over the past twenty years has been on the role of moral meanings in shaping social life. In my most recent work, this has led me to investigate the moral meanings invested in welfare interventions into the lives of children that have sought to remove them from environments considered to be socially and morally corrupting. My last book, Remembering Child Migration: Faith, Nation-Building and the Wounds of Charity (Bloomsbury, 2015) examined the history of child migration schemes based in the United Kingdom and North America, and analysed how the moral cultures of these schemes contributed to environments in which children were exposed to various forms of harm. I’m also interested in the moral work that is done through processes of remembering historic child abuse today.
My current project is a more detailed study of post-War British child migration schemes to Australia that will analyse the different cultures and working methods of the various organisations funding and delivering them and set these in the wider context of developments in the post-War out-of-home care of children.
I have a range of experience of public engagement work with other organisations. I was the academic curator for the 2014/15 exhibition, ‘On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants’, at the V&A Museum of Childhood, which attracted 310,000 visitors and an associated on-line and broadcast media audience of 17 million people. The exhibition received positive reviews in all major British broadsheet newspapers and was also the subject of items on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show and Radio 4’ PM programme.
In conjunction with the exhibition, I also worked with the production company, Smooth Operations, to develop an album of newly-commissioned folk songs reflecting the experiences of British child migrants. Featuring award-winning musicians such as John McCusker, Chris While and Julie Matthews, and Boo Hewerdine, the album had a premiere performance at the Royal Concert Halls in Glasgow in January 2015. Music from the album is also featuring in a Radio 2 dramatization of Michael Morpurgo’s ‘All Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea’, scheduled to be broadcast in 2017.
I also have a long-standing collaboration with the BAFTA award-winning educational charity, TrueTube, which produces open access online films for Key-Stage 3 and 4 in religious education, citizenship and PSHE. We have so far worked on six films together, two of which have been short-listed for national religious broadcasting awards by the Sandford St Martin Trust and one of which, on the Magdalene Laundries, won a BUFVC national Learning on Screen award in 2014.
My earlier research has focused on forms of moral meaning beyond institutional religion. I have written on the ways in which contemporary social life is shaped by symbolic constructions of the sacred and profane, ‘new spiritualities’ and the ways in which moral meanings are constructed through media and popular culture. I am a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University, and have previously served as Chair of the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion Study Group and the co-Chair of the Religion, Media and Culture Group within the American Academy of Religion.
My doctoral students work broadly in the cultural study of religion. A number of them have received AHRC doctoral studentships for their projects including three through the old Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme. Current and recent projects include the formation of women’s subjectivities in Magdalene Laundries in post-independence Ireland, contemporary conservative Evangelical subjectivities in London, ordinary ethics in the context of student activism at British universities in relation to Palestine-Israel, visitor engagement with religious objects at the British Museum, the meanings and uses of 'natural birth', the role of PR in the construction of media narratives about Islam and the transmission of Catholicism in a secondary school.back to top
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
Gordon Lynch teaches modules on the sacred and on the sociology of religion.back to top