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    Research Statement


    Joseph Webster came to Queen’s University Belfast as a Lecturer in Anthropology in 2013. Before coming to QUB, he was the Isaac Newton – Graham Robertson Research Fellow in Social Anthropology and Sociology at Downing College, Cambridge (2011-2013), having trained in both disciplines at the University of Edinburgh (2003-2012).


    His primary research interest concerns the anthropology of religion, with a particular focus on Protestantism in Scotland and the global north. Other research interests include millenarianism, ethno-religious nationalism, personhood, fraternalism, and hate. Theoretically, his work draws upon Weberian social theory, semiotics, and structuralism.


    His doctoral research focused upon the theologies of salvation and eschatology among Scottish Brethren fishermen in Gamrie, a small Aberdeenshire fishing village of 700 people and six Protestant churches. Ethnographically, he examined how life as a deep sea fisherman and life as a millenarian Christian came together to produce a world that was both modern and enchanted. A monograph based on this research was published as The Anthropology of Protestantism: Faith and Crisis among Scottish Fishermen (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013). The book develops a new reading of Max Weber's theory of disenchantment by rethinking the relationship between immanence and transcendence.


    His Research Fellowship at Cambridge was partly spent conducting a year of new fieldwork in Airdrie and Glasgow, examining the religion and cultural politics of Orangeism and unionism within the context of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. As well as following a full ‘marching season’, his fieldwork involved attending Orange ‘social clubs’, shadowing Protestant flute bands and Rangers FC supporters clubs, and conducting participant observation within loyalist communities across Scotland’s Central Belt. He is currently writing a new monograph based on this research (under contract, Manchester University Press) entitled The Religion of Orange Politics: Protestantism and Fraternity in Contemporary Scotland.


    Connected to his research on ethno-religious nationalism in Scotland, 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 within The ScotsmanThe Herald, The Sun, and The Express.


    I welcome applications from MA and PhD students conducting research on any of the following themes:


    • Religion, Christianity, Protestantism, Fundamentalism, Millenarianism, Zionism
    • Politics, Ethno-nationalism, Unionism, Loyalism, Orangeism
    • Personhood, Gender, Masculinity, Fraternalism, Hate
    • Language, Materiality, Symbolism
    • Economics, Fishing, Maritime Anthropology
    • North Atlantic, Northern Europe, Britain, Scotland, Northern Ireland
    • The relationship between Anthropology and Theology




    Current Teaching at QUB


    • Apocalypse: The History and Anthropology of the End of the World (HIS2065)
    • Key Debates in Anthropology (ANT2022)
    • Ireland and Britain (ANT3151)
    • MA Specialisation: Social Anthropology (ANT7053)


    Previous Teaching at QUB


    • Ethnography: Exploring Other Worlds (ANT2033/ANT3146)
    • Expressive Cultures (ESA1001)
    • Economic Anthropology (ANT2036)
    • MA New Frontiers: Bodies of Evidence (ANT7010)
    • MA War of Gods (MHY7080)

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    Frequent Journals

    • Ethnos

      ISSNs: 0014-1844

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1469-588X


      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 1.16 SJR 0.754 SNIP 1.256


    • Current Anthropology

      ISSNs: 0011-3204

      University of Chicago

      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 2.85 SJR 1.351 SNIP 1.932


    • Religion

      ISSNs: 0048-721X


      Scopus rating (2018): SJR 0.563 SNIP 1.292


    • Cambridge Anthropology

      ISSNs: 0305-7674


    • Psychology and Society

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 2041-5893


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    Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

    ID: 5454120