Professor Gordon Lynch
Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology
School Director of Research
- +44(0)1227 827406
Office: Cornwallis North West 210
For the past twenty years, my research has focused broadly on the role of moral meanings in shaping social life. Most recently, this has led me to examine the moral meanings invested in historical welfare interventions into the lives of children which removed them from their families or home communities. I have also 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.
From January 2018, I will be undertaking a history of post-war British child migration schemes to Australia, funded by the AHRC Leadership Fellows scheme. This project will explore how these schemes operated against the backdrop of changing conceptions of the care of children outside the family in the early post-war welfare state.
This project builds on a range of previous work I have produced on the history of British child migration schemes, including my 2015 book ‘Remembering Child Migration: Faith, Nation-Building and the Wounds of Charity’. I have previously served as the academic curator for the major exhibition, ‘On Their Own: Britain’s Child Migrants’ at the V&A Museum of Childhood, which ran between October 2015 and June 2016. The exhibition received in excess of 300,000 visitors and reached a media audience of more than 17 million people. In addition to positive coverage in all UK broadsheet press, the exhibition was also commended by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, for introducing this history to a new audience.
I also worked with the production company, 7Digital, to develop an accompanying project, ‘The Ballads of Child Migration’, in which leading British folk musicians composed songs reflecting different aspects of the experiences of British child migrants. Songs from this project have been played on BBC Radio, as well as being performed at the Royal Concert Halls in Glasgow and the Royal Albert Hall in London. The ‘Ballads’ project also formed the basis for a dramatization of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, ‘All Alone on the Wide, Wide Sea’, that was broadcast over four episodes of the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 in August 2017.
On the basis of this prior work, I was invited to act as an expert witness to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse for its investigation of the sexual abuse of former British child migrants. Between September 2016 and August 2017, I worked with my fellow expert witness, Professor Stephen Constantine, to produce a series of reports for the Inquiry Panel and gave oral evidence over nine days of the Inquiry’s public hearings on this case.
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 students. 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 British Universities Film and Video Council national Learning on Screen award in 2014.
I am a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology, Yale University, and 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.
My doctoral students work in the broader area of the cultural study of religion, including current projects on the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, the natural birth movement and the use of digital media by young Evangelical Christians.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