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Sociology Research


Dr David Lehmann has a multiple academic identity: as a Latin Americanist he has done research in Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil, and although Brazil has been the most prominent, his attachment to and inspiration from Spanish America is extremely important. He has also undertaken major research in Israel.

The themes of his work are also multiple: originally devoted to development studies, he began working on religion in the 1980s, first in Brazil, then in Israel and now on a multinational level. But in the first decade of the 2000s David branched out in a new direction with a big project on the spread of multiculturalism and affirmative action in Latin America.

His academic life began in Oxford, but it really only came to life in 1968 when he went to Chile to do research on land reform. The next five years were, to say the least, a turbulent period, which together with the catastrophic repression which followed during the military regime influenced a whole generation.

David's first job was at the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, after which he worked briefly at the University of Kent, and then from 1973 in Cambridge. He has taught on development, Latin America and religion, and was Director of the Centre of Latin American Studies for 10 years during the 1990s. 

Research Interests

David's work on religion accompanies the fragmentation of the religious field and of religious authority: the growth of evangelical Christianity in Latin America and worldwide, and the erosion of long-established boundaries between supposedly solid religious traditions.

David's current research is about messianic Jews – Jews who believe in Jesus, Christians who want to reclaim their Jewish heritage, Brazilians and even Caribbeans who claim they are Jewish anyhow because their ancestors were forced converts (marranos). He has also found messianics of different types in Israel, in London, and in the US. The mix of ethnogenesis (a reclaimed ancestral identity) and a parallel search for religious self-realization is an unprecedented departure and it is growing, and reflects of the reshaping an of religion in contemporary societies.


Current Doctoral students:

Carla Moscoso

Nicolas Flint

Luis Garrido

Vanessa Rau

Key Publications - Books

The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Latin America, Palgrave, 2016

Remaking Israeli Judaism: the challenge of Shas, London, Hurst and Company, New York OUP, 2006 

Struggle for the Spirit: Religious Transformation and Popular Culture in Brazil and Latin America, Oxford, Polity Press, (U.S. edition, Blackwell International, 1996 (with Batia Siebzehner) 

Democracy and Development in Latin America: Economics, politics and religion in the postwar period, Cambridge, Polity Press, (U.S. edition: Temple University Press.), 1990. 

Key Publications - Book Chapters

‘Popular religion in Latin America: the impact of Pentecostalism and neo-Pentecostalism,' in The Cambridge History of Latin American Religion (eds. Virginia Garrard-Burnett and Paul Freston).

‘A política do reconhecimento: teoría e prática’ in Maria Gabriela Hita (ed.): Raça, racismo e genética em debates científicos e controversias sociais. Salvador, EDUFBA 2017.

‘Introduction’ and ‘The Politics of Naming: Affirmative Action in Brazilian Higher Education’ in David Lehmann (ed.): (edited) The Crisis of Multiculturalism in Latin America, New York, Palgrave 2016 (in press)

‘The Religious Field in Latin America: Autonomy and Fragmentation’, in The Cambridge History of  Religions in Latin America (eds. Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Paul Freston and Stephen C. Dove), 2016. 

‘Hope and Religion’ in Andrew McKinnon and Marta Trzebiatowska (eds.) Sociological Theory and the Question of Religion, Ashgate, 2014.

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Intercultural Universities in Mexico: Identity and Inclusion’, Journal of Latin American Studies, (2013) Vol. 45, pp. 779-811

Power, Boundaries and Institutions: Marriage in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism’, European Journal of Sociology, (2009), Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 273-308

Fundamentalism and Globalism’, Third World Quarterly, (1998) Vol. 19, No. 1, pp.607-634 (with Batia Siebzehner)

'The Political Economy of Armageddon', Journal of Development Economics, (1978) Vol. 5, pp. 107-123

Grants and Projects

2014-16: from the Leverhulme Trust, for research entitled ‘Redrawing religious boundaries and identities: Messianic Jews and Christians’. (£22,000). 

2012: from the British Academy, for research on Judaism in the Pentecostal Imaginary (£10,000).

2008: from the British Academy, small grant (£2,000) to support a workshop run by the Religion and Secularism Network.

2007-10: from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a Network entitled ‘Secularism: a reappraisal of institutional arrangements for religious regulation’ (£20,000). Now known as The Religion and Secularism Network and run with Humeira Iqtidar . 

2006-12: from the British Academy, for research on Multiculturalism in Latin America: a Study in the Diffusion of Ideas (£85,000).

Job Title:
Emeritus Professor in Social Science
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