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Simon Michael Coleman

College positions:
Visiting Fellow
University of Toronto

Professor Simon Michael Coleman

Professor Simon Coleman is an anthropologist of religion who has carried out fieldwork in Sweden, the UK and Nigeria. Much of his research has focused on contemporary forms of Christianity, including the global spread of Pentecostal and charismatic movements.

This work has revealed the cultural and social influence of the Prosperity Gospel, a movement orientated toward spiritual empowerment, material wealth and positive thinking that is now recognized as providing inspiration to major political figures ranging from Donald Trump to Jair Bolsonaro. Simon also examines the continued popularity and changing role of pilgrimage in various parts of the world, including the UK. Linking Simon’s interests in Pentecostalism and pilgrimage is an overall concern to explore connections between ritual, mobility, and transnational religious networks.

Simon’s recent projects have included a large-scale comparative study of English cathedrals and an examination of the widespread social and economic effects of Pentecostal urban infrastructures in Nigeria. A current, British Academy-funded project, ‘Pneumacity’, brings together an international team of social scientists, urban planners and engineers to examine how recycling initiatives redeploy waste products to promote urban sustainability. While at Clare Hall, Simon will carry out research on the major Christian pilgrimage site of Walsingham in Norfolk, which hosts multiple shrines and has long been at the centre of passionate debates over the place of Christianity in English life.

Between 2008 and 2010 Simon was editor of Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. He is co-editor of the journal Religion and Society, and an editor of the book series Routledge Studies in Pilgrimage, Religious Travel and Tourism. Simon has published over 20 books and edited collections.

Select publications

  • Ideologies and Infrastructures of Religious Urbanization in Africa: Remaking the City (ed., with D. Garbin and G. Millington). London: Bloomsbury, 2022
  • Powers of Pilgrimage: Religion in a World of Movement. New York: New York University Press, 2021
  • Different Repetitions: Anthropological Engagements with Figures of Return, Recurrence and Redundancy (ed., with A. Bandak). London: Routledge, 2021
  • Religion in Cathedrals: Pilgrimage, Place, Heritage, and the Politics of Replication (ed., with M. Bowman). London: Routledge, 2021
  • Pilgrimage and Political Economy (ed., with J. Eade). Oxford: Berghahn, 2018
  • The Anthropology of Global Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism (ed., with R. Hackett). New York: New York University Press, 2015
  • The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000
  • Pilgrimage Past and Present: Sacred Travel and Sacred Space in the World Religions (with J. Elsner). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995

Select awards

  • Henry Myers Lecturer on ‘The Place of Religious Belief in Human Development’, Royal Anthropological Institute, London, 2018
  • President, Society for the Anthropology of Religion, American Anthropological Association, 2017-19
  • ‘Prosperity Unbound? Debating the ‘Sacrificial Economy’, Research in Economic Anthropology (2011, 31: 23-45) chosen as Outstanding Author Contribution Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2012
  • Blackman Prize for doctoral research, St John’s College, Cambridge, 1990

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