Professor Gordon Lynch
Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology
- +44(0)1227 827406
Office: Cornwallis North West 210
Office Hours: Currently on research leave
For the past twenty years, my research has focused broadly on the role of moral meanings in shaping social life. Most recently, this has involved examining moral meanings supporting historical welfare interventions into the lives of children which removed them from their families or home communities, as well as those shaping contemporary responses to histories of institutional abuse. This has also led me to become particularly interested in the context and effects of the work of religious organisations involved in providing residential care to children and vulnerable adults in the post-war period.
Since 2013, I have undertaken a range of research and public engagement activities relating to the history of the UK child migration programmes, which sent around 100,000 children, unaccompanied by parents, to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the former Southern Rhodesia from 1869 to 1970. I served as the academic curator for the exhibition, ‘On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants’, at the V&A Museum of Childhood in 2015/16. I also collaborated with the production company 7digital on an associated musical project, The Ballads of Child Migration, which commissioned leading UK folk musicians to write songs reflecting the experiences of British child migrants in contrast to the hymns and organisational songs they were originally taught. Songs from The Ballads of Child Migration have been performed on BBC Radio 2 and 6Music, and underpinned a dramatization of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, All Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, that was broadcast in four parts on BBC Radio 2 in August, 2017.
From September 2016, I served for nearly twelve months as an expert witness under instruction to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse for its child migration programmes investigation. Evidence on systemic policy failures in the management of these programmes by the UK Government presented by myself and fellow lead expert witness, Professor Stephen Constantine, supported the Inquiry’s recommendation that that UK Government urgently establish a redress scheme to all surviving British child migrants.
Supported by an AHRC Leadership Fellows award, I am currently writing a monograph exploring policy failure in the context of the post-war UK child migration programmes to Australia, as well as developing other activities exploring the uses of history in child abuse inquiries, the role of history in relation to transitional or transformational justice, and thinking about institutional abuse and religious organisations through the disciplines of theology and religious studies.
I collaborate with the BAFTA award-winning educational charity, TrueTube, which produces open access online films for Key-Stage 3 and 4 students, and with whom I have worked together on six films. Films on the UK child migration schemes and Magdalene Laundries, were both short-listed for national religious broadcasting awards, with the latter winning a British Universities Film and Video Council Learning on Screen award in 2014.
I am the sub-panel chair for UOA31, Theology and Religious Studies, for REF2021, and previously served on the sub-panel for this subject area in REF2104. I have previously served as Chair of the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Religion Study Group and co-Chair of the Religion, Media and Culture Group of the American Academy of Religion, and am a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University.
I have previously written on forms of the ‘sacred’ in modern life, the notion of a growing, new spirituality beyond the boundaries of traditional religious institutions, and the ways in which media and popular culture operate as sources of meaning in contemporary society.
My doctoral students work in the cultural study of religion, often using qualitative research methods to explore religious and ethical subjectivities in different organisational contexts. Previous students have gone on to secure post-doctoral positions as well as permanent lectureships in sociology and religious studies, and I am particularly interested in supporting new doctoral projects exploring modern histories of religious welfare provision for children and vulnerable adults and issues relating to historic institutional abuse.
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
Gordon Lynch teaches modules on the sacred and on the sociology of religion.back to top