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Dr Joseph Webster

Dr Joseph Webster

Lecturer in the Study of Religion

Fellow and DoS in Anthropology, Downing

Joseph Webster is accepting applications for PhD students.

Office Phone: 01223 763093


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).


Research Interests

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. His second monograph, The Religion of Orange Politics (In Press), is an ethnographic account of ethno-religious nationalism within the Orange Order, Scotland's largest Protestant-only fraternity. 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



A6 - Understanding Contemporary Religion

D2b - Apocalypse


Other Professional Activities

Connected to his research on ethno-religious nationalism, Dr Webster has undertaken work on the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. He has acted as an expert witness to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, giving evidence in support of repeal. His research on this topic has been profiled in the media, including in The Times, The Herald, The Sun, and The Express newspapers, as well as on STV's Scotland Tonight.


Key Publications


The Anthropology of Protestantism: Faith and Crisis among Scottish Fishermen (2013, Palgrave)

The Religion of Orange Politics: Protestantism and Fraternity in Contemporary Scotland (In Press, Manchester University Press)



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

Webster, J. (In Press). 'Christian Denominations as Social Institutions: An Afterward' in Anthropological Quarterly

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.




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