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Faculty of Divinity



Joseph Webster took up his post in the Divinity Faculty in 2019. Previous to this he held the position of Lecturer in Anthropology at Queen's University Belfast (2013-19), and Isaac Newton - Graham Robertson Research Fellow in Social Anthropology and Sociology at Downing College, Cambridge (2011-13). His MA(Hons) in Sociology and Social Anthropology, and his MRes and PhD in Social Anthropology were all obtained at the University of Edinburgh (2003-12).

Dr Webster won a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2020 to conduct new ethnographic research on 'The Morality of Millenarianism'. 


Dr Webster's primary research interest concerns the Anthropology of Religion, with a particular focus on Protestantism in Scotland and the global north.

His first monograph, The Anthropology of Protestantism (2013), is an ethnography of apocalyptic sign searching within an Exclusive Brethren fishing community in Northeast Scotland. This book was featured on BBC Radio 4, in an episode of Thinking Allowed

His second monograph, The Religion of Orange Politics (2020), is an ethnographic account of ethno-religious nationalism within the Orange Order, Scotland's largest Protestant-only fraternity. This book was featured in New Humanist magazine.


Dr Webster's specific research interests include:

• Protestant fundamentalism, millenarianism, apocalypticism

• Ethno-religious nationalism, unionism, loyalism, the Orange Order

• Personhood, fraternity, hate

• Sectarianism, football fandom, and debates about free speech

• North Atlantic, Britain, Scotland, Northern Ireland

• The relationship between Anthropology and Theology



Key publications: 


Webster, J. (2020). The Religion of Orange Politics: Protestantism and Fraternity in Contemporary Scotland

Webster, J. (2013). The Anthropology of Protestantism: Faith and Crisis among Scottish Fishermen



Webster, J. (2020). 'Embodied Apocalypse: Or the Native Cosmology of Late Modern Social Theory' in Anthropology & Medicine.

Webster, J. (2020). 'Prosperity Pentecostalism as Theological Presentism' (Comment) in Current Anthropology 61(1): 71-72.

Webster, J. (2020). 'Christian Denominations as Social Institutions: An Afterward' in Anthropological Quarterly 92(4): 1123-1134.

Webster, J. (2019). 'Whose sins do the Brethren confess?' in Ethnos.

Webster, J. (2017). 'Praying for Salvation: A Map of Relatedness' in Religion 47(1): 19-34.

Webster, J. (2013). 'The Eschatology of Global Warming in a Scottish Fishing Village' in Cambridge Anthropology 31(1): 68-84.

Webster, J. (2012). 'The Immanence of Transcendence: God and the Devil on the Aberdeenshire Coast' in Ethnos 78(3): 380-402.

Webster, J. (2008). 'Establishing the 'Truth' of the Matter: Confessional Reflexivity as Introspection and Avowal' in Psychology and Society 1(1): 65-76.


Book Chapters

Hickman, J. and Webster, J. (In Press). 'Millenarianism' in The Oxford Handbook of the Anthropology of Religion by Robbins, J. and Coleman, S. (eds.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Webster, J. (In Press). 'Approaches through Materiality' in The Oxford Handbook of the Anthropology of Religion by Robbins, J. and Coleman, S. (eds.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Webster, J. (In Press). 'Geography as Eschatology: Prophecy Fulfilment on Land and at Sea' in Landscapes of Christianity by Bielo, J. and Ron, A. (eds). London: Bloomsbury

Webster, J. (2018). 'The Exclusive Brethren Doctrine of Separation: An Anthropology of Theology in Theologically Engaged Anthropology by Lemons, D. (ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Webster, J. (2015). 'Objects of Transcendence: Scots-Protestantism and an Anthropology of Things' in Material Religion in Modern Britain by Jones, T. and Matthews-Jones, L. (eds.) New York: Palgrave.



Teaching and Supervisions


A6 - Understanding Contemporary Religion

D2b - Apocalypse

Part II - Anthropology-Theology Joint track in Modern Religion Seminar

MPhil - Contemporary Religious Conflict: Ethnographic Approaches


Research supervision: 

Dr Webster would be interested in supervising doctoral students whose work uses ethnographic methods to research any of the themes listed above.


Lecturer in the Study of Religion
Fellow and DoS in Anthropology, Downing
Graduate Tutor, Downing
Dr Joseph  Webster

Contact Details

01223 763093
Takes PhD students
Not available for consultancy



Current students and supervisors can access the Faculty’s Moodle page by clicking on the image below.