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PhD projects

English-speaking settler empire; colonial political and religious culture; colonial environmental history; colonial Anglicanism; religious responses to crisis in empire

  • Source: Scopus
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Personal profile

Research interests

Joe's past research has focused on two main areas. First, the overseas development of the Church of England, and how, despite contact with empire and a diversity of peoples, the institution became in some senses more 'English' as the nineteenth century went on. Second, and most recently, the culture of community-wide worship that was a long-running feature of British settler societies at moments of acute crisis (droughts and wars) and celebration (the coming of peace, the birth of royals). Joe has also written on the history of religious responses to extreme weather and climate change. His current research considers 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 in the Church of England since the mid-1800s.


His 2014 Manchester University Press book, An Anglican British World, 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.


Three recent articles in leading journals have considered the cultures of special national worship in Australia, Canada and the British Empire more generally. His second book - Providence, Prayer and Empire: Special Worship in the British World, 1783-1919 (Manchester University Press, 2021) - considers 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.


Joe’s research interests and teaching specialisms lie primarily in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British imperial, environmental, animal and religious history, with a particular focus on the political and religious culture of British settler communities. His first book - see the research pages for further information - considered the Church of England's relationship with the British empire, while the second, published 2021, tells the story of the long-running history of 'special worship' or 'national prayer' in settler colonies from the mid-eighteenth century to the First World War. Research for these books was made possible by fellowships with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and a 2019 visiting fellowship at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Education/Academic qualification

History, PhD

1 Oct 20041 Jun 2008

Award Date: 9 Jan 2009


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