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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Evidence on Trial Public Lecture - Evidence and Enlightenment

29th February 2016, 18:15 to 19:15, Kingsley Barrett Room, Calman Learning Centre, Professor Matthew Engelke (London School of Economics)

The field of “secular studies” has grown by leaps and bounds over the past twenty years. Covering everything from the sociology of church attendance and affiliation in Britain, to Indian and Egyptian political arrangements, to the politics of the body in the United States, secular studies ask important questions about power, personhood, epistemology, and even ontology in the contemporary world. This talk is a contribution to secular studies, from an anthropological perspective. Its point of departure is the observation that for all the ways in which secular studies have advanced our understandings of modernity and its discontents, greater attention to the several ways in which “evidence” figures within them is both necessary and salutary. Evidence, it will be argued, is both a central concept in and for secular studies, and a central concern to the modern communities, societies, and social formations it seeks to describe. And particular forms of evidence help tie together both academic and everyday modes of authority in life after the Enlightenment.

Matthew Engelke is a Professor of Anthropology and, currently, an Academic Governor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. The author of two books, as well as numerous articles, his fieldwork to date has focused on religion, secularity, and culture in Zimbabwe and Britain. Professor Engelke was the honorary editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute from 2010-2013, and has been awarded both the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing and the Clifford Geertz Prize by the Society for the Anthropology of Religion. 

This lecture is free and open to all.


Map – The Calman Learning Centre is denoted at
building number: 43.

Contact for more information about this event.