Joseph Hardwick

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Animals and British religion; the English-speaking settler empire; colonial political and religious culture; colonial environmental history; colonial Anglicanism; religious responses to crisis in empire.

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Personal profile


My research interests and teaching specialisms lie primarily in modern British imperial, environmental, animal and religious history, with a particular focus on the political and religious culture of British settler communities. My current research considers the ways that people in modern Britain have engaged with the natural world, non-human animals, and ecological issues through rituals and ceremonies, both in religious and secular settings. I'm also interested in how societies respond when outbreaks of disease in the animal world - such as 'cattle plague' - coincide with epidemics and other crises among humans.

My first book considered the Church of England's relationship with the British empire, and my second explored how the diverse communities in British colonies could, at moments of crisis and celebration, come together to pray communally. In addition to teaching and researching animal and religious history at Northumbria, I am also secretary of the Ecclesiastical History Society.

Research interests

My research connects the histories of religion and ritual and environmental crisis in modern Britain and the British Empire. More specifically, I'm interested in how Christian churches in modern Britain have developed a 'green' or 'ecological' awareness, as well as a concern for non-human animals. I'm currently researching the varied ways that people in modern Britain have connected to the natural world, non-human animals, and ecological issues through religious rituals, both in and beyond the sacred space of churches and chapels.

My most recent published work explores how far the intermixing of human life with the lives of a great variety of non-human animals, both wild and domesticated, has been reflected in everyday worship and ritual in British churches since the mid-1800s. Rituals and acts of worship involving animals - both symbolic and living ones - tended to multiply at moments of animal disease, such as outbreaks of rinderpest among cattle. My future research will explore how societies in Britain and beyond responded when disruptions in the animal world, such as disease outbreaks, coincided with human epidemics and other crises.  

My first book, An Anglican British World, published in 2014 by Manchester University Press, considered how the Church of England dealt with migration and how an institution that enjoyed a privileged status in parts of the British Isles tried to maintain a new kind of establishment overseas, most notably by projecting new forms of cultural and ethnic authority across the empire of British settlement.

The second book - Providence, Prayer and Empire: Special Worship in the British World, 1783-1919 (Manchester University Press, 2021) - considered those moments when colonial populations of many faiths and ethnicities came together to pray for common causes and objects in times of crisis and celebration, and, in so doing, expressed a powerful, and often inclusive, sense of religious community.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

History, PhD

1 Oct 20041 Jun 2008

Award Date: 9 Jan 2009


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