Landmark interviews

In this section


‌‌‌‌‌‌We are in the process of undertaking over 20 preparatory interviews with landmark figures in the field, aimed at identifying the broadest key features of the discussion and debates about religion in the public sphere.

These are semi-structured interviews around the following questions:

1) How do you characterise the present debate/dialogue concerning religion and thepublic sphere?

2) Follow up questions asking for further elaboration on some of the terms or concepts you have used.

3) Where is this debate going to go in the next 5 – 10 years? Where are the pinch-points and where are the new insights?

4) Anything else you would like to comment or reflect upon that is not covered by this interview?

Click on the links below to take a look. Please feel free to post comments, remembering to leave your name and institutional affiliation in the name bar, so that we can get in touch.

Also, if your readings really get your academic juices flowing, why not contribute a blog? Send submissions to

Current interviewees

Gordon Lynch is Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology at the University of Kent. Gordon's research 'focuses on meanings and values that shape contemporary life, whether these take conventionally religious forms or not'.‌

Talal Asad, a post-colonial theorist and anthropologist, is among a generation of scholars deeply influenced by--and who has significantly furthered--the work of such scholars as the French intellectual, Michel Foucault (1926-1984), and the American (though born in Jerusalem and raised in Cairo, Egypt, and Palestine) scholar of comparative literature, Edward Said (1935-2003).

‌Tariq Modood is the founding Director of the University of Bristol's Research Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship. I have held over 40 grants and consultancies (UK, European and US), have over 30 (co-)authored and (co-)edited books and reports and over 150 articles or chapters in political philosophy, sociology and public policy.

Linda Woodhead MBE is Professor of the Sociology of Religion in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University. Linda is well regarded across disciplines in the study of religion, having headed the £12 million Religion and Society Programme, and is a pivotal figure in developing the public understanding of religion, especially through the Westminster Faith Debates. Linda's work explores the realtionship between religion and social change worldwide, with a particular interest in the period from the 1980s to present. 

K‌im Knott is a Professor of Religious and Secular Studies at Lancaster University. Kim has developed a spatial methodology for contextualising religion, examining its engagement with other social and cultural institutions and issues, and for "breaking open the secular", which she has used to examine religious and secular beliefs and values in diverse locations.

‌Cécile Laborde is the Director of UCL’s Religion and Political Theory Centre. Cécile has published on theories of law and the state, pluralism, syndicalism, and on contemporary theories of nationalism, toleration, republicanism, multiculturalism, secularism and global justice.

Aurelia Bardon is a Research Associate for RAPT. She holds a dual PhD in political theory from Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris and she joined RAPT in September 2013.

Lord Bhikhu Parekh is a leading interpreter of the history of political theory. He has written books on Bentham, Marx and Gandhi. His most recent writings have been on the dilemmas of policy in multi-ethnic Britain and the political theories and principles that should guide thinking on these issues.

Jane Wills is Professor of Human Geography at Queen Mary, University of London. Over the past two decades her research has been on: (1) The changing geo-political-economy of work, employment, labour supply and labour politics; (2) New forms of urban political alliances with a particular interest in community organising and, more recently; (3) The politics and practice of localism in the UK.

Steve Bruce, Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen, is perhaps the most prominent living proponent of secularisation theory. Steve is the author of God is Dead: Secularisation in the West, which sets out the complex contours of secularisation theory.

Graham Ward is Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford. Alongside John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, Graham is one of the founders of the Radical Orthodoxy movement in theology, which takes a critical stance towards modernity. Graham is the author of numerous seminal texts on language, postmodernism and gender studies. He is in the process of developing a "culturally engaged systematic theology".‌

Luke Bretherton is Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School. Luke is the author of Christianity and Contemporary Politics: The considitons and possibility of faithful witness. He contributes to numerous news media, including the Guardian and the Huffington Post

Rowan Williams is the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and is currently the Master of Magdalene College Oxford. A Bishop, theologian and poet, Rowan speaks over seven languages. As well as writing the acclaimed Faith in the Public Square, he has made a number of significant contributions on this topic, often defining the debate: on sharia law, on the free market and on social policy.

Edward Soja teaches in the Regional and International Development (RID) area of Urban Planning and also teaches courses in urban political economy and planning theory at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. After starting his academic career as a specialist on Africa, Dr. Soja has focused his research and writing over the past 20 years on urban restructuring in Los Angeles and more broadly on the critical study of cities and regions.

Clayton Crockett is Professor of Philosophy and Religion, and Director of Religious Studies at the University of Central Arkansas. Clayton started teaching at UCA in 2003, and earned tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2008. He is the author of three books, most recently Radical Political Theology: Religion and Politics After Liberalism (Columbia University Press, 2011). He is currently working on a book comparing two French philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Alain Badiou.


‌‌David Martin, a sociologist of religion known especially for his critique of secularization as a theory of social process and his pioneering work on Pentecostalism in Latin America, is a professor emeritus of sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and honorary professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University. He is also an ordained priest in the Church of England attached as a non-stipendiary assistant to Guildford Cathedral.

Stephen Pattison is Professor of Religion, Ethics and Practice and HG Wood Professor of Theology in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. Stephen is a practical theologian and ethicist. He studies the relationship between beliefs and values and practices, both within and outside formal ‘religions’. One of his principal roles in Birmingham is to direct the Doctor of Practical Theology programme, a part-time degree for researching professionals from a variety of practice backgrounds, religious and other. 

Craig Calhoun is a Professor at, and the Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Craig is a world-renowned social scientist whose work connects sociology of culture, communications, politics, philosophy and economics.

John Milbank is Professor of Theology, Philosophy and Ethics in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham. He is the author of several books of which the most well-known is Theology and Social Theory and the most recent Being Reconciled: Ontology and Pardon. He is one of the editors of the Radical Orthodoxy collection of essays which occasioned much debate.

Upcoming Interviews

  • Luke Bretherton, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics and Sneior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke Divinity School
  • Douglas Davies, Professor, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University
  • David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, Director, Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge
  • Julia Ipgrave, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick
  • Scott Lash, Professor, Head of Research, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, Univeristy of London
  • Marion Maddox, Professor of Religion and Politics, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University
  • Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
  • Rowan Williams, Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
  • Jane Wills, Professor of Human Geography, Geography, QMUL