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University of St Andrews (UK)
Profile: My PhD dissertation examined the racial views of atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers in nineteenth-century Britain and the United States. My current research focuses on the emergence and negotiation of nonreligious identities in the modern Anglophone world.
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)
Profile: David Berman’s main work is his History of Atheism: from Hobbes to Russell (Croom Helm, 1988), reprinted in paperback by Routledge in 1990, reprinted in hardback in 2013. He has also edited Atheism in Britain, in 5 volumes, published by Thoemmes Press, in 1996. His most recent publication in this area is ‘Why early atheists loved Berkeley’s idealism’, in Le Cabinet du Curieux, published by Classiques Garnier in 2013.
Coordinator, Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College
Secretary, Thomas Paine National Historical Association
New York (USA)
Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor of Jewish History
University of California, Davis (USA)
Profile: David Biale is the Director of the Humanities Institute at the University of California, Davis. He was educated at UC Berkeley, the Hebrew University and UCLA. He is the author of five books, the most recent of which is Not in the Heavens: The Tradition of Jewish Secular Thought (Princeton University Press, 2011). He is also the editor of Cultures of the Jews: A New History (Schocken Books, 2002) and the Norton Anthology of World Religions: Judaism (Norton, 2014). His books have won the National Jewish Book Award three times. Most recently, he won the UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. He is currently the Project Director of an international team writing a History of Hasidism.
University of California, Santa Barbara (USA)
Profile: My research focuses on organized nonbelievers and secular activists in the United States. I’m especially interested in their engagement with America’s courts and other branches of government, as well as the ways in which they distinguish between secular and religious. In another ongoing research project I consider the role that evangelicals play in catalyzing nonbeliever group and identity formation.
Thompson Rivers University (Canada)
Profile: Much of my research centres on the intersections between irreligon and region, with particular focus on the secular culture of the Pacific Northwest. More recently, I have started to explore the experience of unbelievers, and the interplay between class, gender, and belief, in postwar Canada.
Editor-Publisher, The Truth Seeker
San Diego, CA (USA)
Profile: I am the author of D.M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker. In association with the Council for Secular Humanism and Center for Inquiry, I produced the four-part American Freethought film series about secularism and censorship in 2013. Currently I’m pursuing a posthumous pardon for free-speech martyr D.M. Bennett.
University of Glasgow (UK)
Profile: Callum Brown has studied secularisation for 30 years, and published ten books including The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800-2000 (Routledge, 2001, 2009), Religion and the Demographic Revolution: Women and Secularisation in Canada, Ireland, UK and USA since the 1960s (Boydell, 2013). He is now researching how people lose religion using oral history and autobiography. His most recent book on this topic is Becoming Atheist: Humanism and the Secular West (Bloomsbury).
Associate Professor of History
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (USA)
Profile: My current project is entitled Black Freethinkers: African American Secularism, 1800-2015. Here I examine the rise of black freethought, which runs the gamut from atheists to non-traditional beliefs such as Deism, during the era of slavery, its growth during the Harlem Renaissance, and its influence on African American politics and culture to the present day.
Royal Holloway, University of London (UK)
Profile: Justin Champion is a historian of heterodoxy, blasphemy and irreligion, with a particular focus on Hobbes, Toland and Le Traité des trois imposteurs.
Royal Holloway, University of London (UK)
Profile: Gregory Claeys is a historian of British radicalism and socialism from 1750 to the present and is the author of seven books and editor of some fifty volumes of primary sources. He has written studies of Robert Owen and Owenism, Thomas Paine, and John Stuart Mill. He is a member of the British Humanist Association.
University of California, Santa Cruz (USA)
Profile: I study atheism in modern France during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I am focused particularly on the loss of faith/deconversion narratives of freethinkers and defrocked priests during Third Republic France (1870-1940).
Teacher of philosophy and religious studies
Priestley College (UK)
Profile: Bill is a historian of atheism and humanism, with interest in the ongoing debate between religious and non-religious world-views. His books include A Rebel to His Last Breath: Joseph McCabe and Rationalism (Prometheus, 2001), and A Wealth of Insights: Humanist Thought Since the Enlightenment (Prometheus, 2011). He wrote 45 entries for the New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Prometheus: 2006). He is also the Director of Transnational Programs for the Center for Inquiry.
Queen’s University (Canada)
Profile: My dissertation concerns the intellectual history of Victorian secularism in its global and imperial contexts. My fields of research include Britain and Empire in the long nineteenth century and early-modern European intellectual history with a focus on Enlightenment thought.
Associate Professor of History
Holy Cross College (USA)
Profile: Most of my work has been on the 19th century, focusing on the interface of science and religion as well as the history of colleges and universities and their intellectual life. I have published in Religious Studies Review, Choice, and the History of Intellectual Culture. My dissertation was titled, “Student Idealists and the Specter of Natural Science, 1870-1910,” PhD diss., University of Notre Dame, 2008. I am currently working on a study of American intellectual alienation during the Gilded Age.
Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands)
Profile: As the author of a monograph on the freethinker, journalist and literary critic John Mackinnon Robertson (1856-1933), I am particularly interested in the radical press of the second half of the nineteenth century and the intersections between freethought and literature. I am hoping to start a new project on literary criticism in the Secularist press soon.
Profile: I am interested in the history of atheism widely construed, and have specialised so far on 17th and 18th century atheist thinkers, notably Bayle, Meslier, d’Holbach, and Diderot. I am interested in the plurality of atheistic beliefs, the political consequences of an atheistic position, and the impact of these on social thought. I also have a particular interest in contemporary debates on toleration, both by and of atheists, and in engaging with the ‘new atheism.’ I am currently writing a book on ‘Radical Atheism’ that details the emergence of positive notions of atheism in French philosophical thought from the 17th century.
Library and Archives Manager
Bishopsgate Institute, London (UK)
Profile: Stefan Dickers looks after the Bishopsgate Institute’s numerous collections on freethought and humanism, the history of London, the labour movement, co-operation, and protest and campaigning. He is also secretary of the Archives and Resources Committee of the Society for the Study of Labour History and the oral history consortium Britain at Work, 1945-1995. Stefan is also co-founder of the Network of Radical Libraries and Archives (NORLA), committee member of the Socialist History Society, and Co-Director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre.
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Germany)
Profile: My research is focused on anticlericalism in 19th century Europe. Dealing with the transnational dimension of Church criticism my published PhD thesis (Antiklerikalismus in Europa. Öffentlichkeit und Säkularisierung in Frankreich, Spanien und Deutschland (1848-1914), Göttingen 2014) studies the complex relationship between anticlericalism, secularization, religious reform and secularism.
NLA Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication (Norway)
Profile: My research is located at the intersection of the history of technology and practice, theories of secularity, and political theology.
University of California, Berkeley (USA)
Profile: Victoria Frede has worked on the history of doubt and atheism in Russia from the mid-18th century through the mid-19th century. She is interested in the circulation of western European philosophical and theological treatises in Russia, as well as in the cultural and social meanings attached to anti-religious speech acts.
College of William & Mary (USA)
Profile: I’m completing a book called Skepticism and American Faith: From the Revolution to the Civil War, small pieces of which have appeared in the Journal of the Early Republic and the Journal of American History.
Miami University (USA)
Profile: Kimberly Hamlin’s book, From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women’s Rights in Gilded Age America (University of Chicago Press, 2014) analyzes how American women utilized evolutionary arguments for feminist purposes. For many, evolutionary theory bolstered their agnosticism/atheism and encouraged their involvement with the Freethought movement. Hamlin’s current project tells the larger story of U.S. women’s rights history through the eyes of one of its most fascinating leaders, the freethinking feminist Helen Hamilton Gardener.
University of Manitoba (Canada)
Profile: My dissertation research, which I am revising for publication, was on unbelief and religious controversy in Canada between the world wars, with a particular focus on organized rationalism and anti-clericalism.
Professor of History
Umeå University (Sweden)
Profile: My current research project is “Pro-secular organizations in Sweden 1880-2010.” This study will describe and analyse pro-secular organizations in Sweden 1880-2010. The term “pro-secular” refers to organisations that fought for greater freedom of beliefs and state neutrality in religious issues. In previous research they have been ignored as marginal groups and their members as uninteresting “militant atheists”. The aim is to gain knowledge about the country`s secularisation and how pro-secular organisations contributed to Sweden becoming one of the worlds most secular countries, but also provide knowledge about historical and contemporary secularisation, and support research that has sought to highlight and defend respectful dialogue on life area.
Birkbeck, University of London (UK)
Profile: I have long been interested in the history of early modern atheism, perhaps particularly the interrelationship between irreligion and contemporary perceptions of it. Recently, I have discovered and published an overtly atheistic text attributed to the Scottish intellectual, Archibald Pitcairne (1652-1713).
University of Bayreuth (Germany)
Profile: My research is focused on witchcraft accusation among the Dagomba in Northern Ghana. I am currently writing my dissertation on how accused persons respond to allegations of witchcraft. I am also interested in the emergence of atheism/unbelief as well as the relationship between secularism and religion in Africa
University of Gothenburg (Sweden)
Profile: I am interested in the history of atheism and secularism in Sweden in the 19th and 20th centuries. At the moment I am working on two smaller projects: one about the conceptual history of atheism and secularism in Sweden, and one on the local history of atheism in the town of Gothenburg. I am generally interested in religion and secularization. My dissertation (defended in 2017) was on the relation between religion and politics in German political thought in the 1840s.
University of Turku (Finland)
Profile: In my dissertation I study the intersection of gender and irreligiousness in the nineteenth-century United States, focusing especially on the experiences of atheist women.
Wheaton College (USA)
Profile: I am interested in the reasons given and arguments made for and against religious belief and specific doctrines or aspects of Christian thought, not least reasons for the gaining, loss, or regaining of such convictions, in the English-speaking world, especially Britain, in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.
Uppsala University (Sweden)
Profile: In my dissertation I analyze the categories of “religion” and “secular” in Supreme Court rulings in post-war Japan, focusing in particular at “common sense” assumptions about Shinto as a non-religion. My other research interests include the interactions between politics and Shinto and the role of religion in modern Japanese nationalism.
Christopher Newport University (USA)
Profile: I am primarily interested in the relationship between value and debates over God’s existence. I am also interested in the connection between atheism and the early-modern contestation of religious language.
University of Málaga (Spain)
Profile: My research concerns the history of political liberalism in Victorian Britain. Having previously written my dissertation on John Stuart Mill, at the moment I am studying the links between Richard Cobden’s economic and political ideas and his cosmopolitan pacifism.
Professor of Philosophy and History
American University in Bulgaria (Bulgaria)
Profile: Diego Lucci’s research concentrates on the philosophy of the Enlightenment, particularly on deism. His publications include the monograph Scripture and Deism: The Biblical Criticism of the Eighteenth-Century British Deists (Lang, 2008) and the co-edited volume Atheism and Deism Revalued: Heterodox Religious Identities in Britain, 1650-1800 (Ashgate, 2014).
Oxford Brookes University (UK)
Profile: My research investigates the idea of the UK secular movement after the 1880s – looking at the secularists involved in politics, peace and women’s suffrage to 1930.
University of Victoria (Canada)
Profile: Lynne Marks’ research interests include a focus on atheism, irreligion and unbelief in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Pacific Northwest, focusing particularly on British Columbia. She is particularly interested in how questions of unbelief intersect with race, gender and class in the region.
George Mason University (USA)
Profile: I am a historian of American religions in the nineteenth century. I am currently writing a history of people who switched between religions tentatively titled The Varieties of Religious Conversion: The Origins of Religious Choice in the United States.
(See also Lincoln’s helpful blog post on the historiography of America irreligion.)
Oxford Brookes University (UK)
Profile: David Nash has written published and spoken extensively on the history of Secularism in Britain. He has a special interest in the history of blasphemy (his last monograph on the subject was Blasphemy in the Christian World) and continues to publish in this area. He has given extensive advice to governments and NGOs in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom on contemporary blasphemy laws and issues.
University of Southern Queensland (Australia)
Profile: My work concerns the intersection of law and religion. Specifically, I’m interested in legal restrictions on the establishment of religion, religious guarantees of religious freedom, blasphemy laws, and more. Presently, I’m writing a book on the interaction of freedom of religion guarantees with legal restrictions on fortune-telling, witchcraft, and individual spirituality.
University of Roehampton (UK)
Profile: Martin Priestman is the author of Romantic Atheism: Poetry and Freethought, 1780-1830 (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and articles on Shelley’s prose and the reception of the atheist poet Lucretius in the 18th and 19th centuries. His work on the evolutionist scientist-poet Erasmus Darwin includes various editions and The Poetry of Erasmus Darwin: Enlightened Spaces, Romantic Times (Ashgate, 2013).
Ethan G. Quillen
University of Edinburgh (UK)
Profile: While my PhD thesis focused exclusively on the use of fiction as an ethnographic source of Atheism, my wider interests on the topic have turned from trying to define the term, to a discursive analysis about how ‘Atheism’ is used within particular contexts. This varies quite usefully from judicial discourses (such as the use of the term in Supreme Court cases) to aesthetic discourses (such as how ‘Atheism’ is manifested within the language of popular sources such as films, novels, and art).
New York University (USA)
Profile: Michael Rectenwald is a professor in Global Liberal Studies at NYU. His articles on secularism have appeared in several journals and anthologies. His newest work reflects a revision of our understanding of Secularism in connection with Charles Taylor’s reconceptualization of secularity. This will be reflected in his forthcoming monograph, Nineteenth-Century British Secularism: Science, Religion and Literature, and an edited volume, Global Secularisms in a Post-Secular Age.
Researcher of Church History
University of Tartu (Estonia)
Profile: My research interests include religious policy and atheism in the Soviet Union (particularly in Estonia ) and the evolution of different atheist traditions. I’m interested in contemporary developments as well.
Charles Louis Richter
The George Washington University (USA)
Profile: I am a historian of US religions writing a dissertation on nativist responses in the United States to the idea of atheism and irreligion in the 20th century. I explore how Americans have connected atheism with what they perceive as threatening, foreign ideologies.
University of York (UK)
Profile: I began my research in the 1960s with a PhD thesis on George Jacob Holyoake and the Origins of Secularism, which was later expanded as Victorian Infidels, 1791-1866 (MUP 1974) and was followed by Radicals, Secularists and Republicans (MUP 1980) which took the story up to the death of G. W. Foote in 1915. I have also published several chapters and articles on Holyoake, Bradlaugh (both of whose papers I catalogued) and other leaders as well as British radical freethought in general in addition to my other studies of Owenism, Chartism and works on British radical, religious and social history since the eighteenth century.
John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics,
Washington University (USA)
Profile: I am interested in the history of atheism, secularism and humanism, especially in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.
University of Warwick (UK)
Profile: Laura Schwartz’s book Infidel Feminism: Secularism, Religion and Women’s Emancipation, England 1830-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2013) examines the emergence of the concept of secularism in Britain in the 19th and early 20th century. It argues that secularism was forged within an antagonistic but also symbiotic relationship with British forms of Protestantism. Also that gender, and questions of women’s rights more specifically, were from the very start central to the formation of modern definitions of secularism and religion.
Oxford Brookes University (UK)
Profile: I’m researching whether and how changes in parenting, particularly in relation to religious belief and practise, could have contributed to the growth of atheism and irreligiosity in 20th century Britain. Autobiographies, oral histories, diaries, and interviews, provide the primary sources for this project.
John R. Shook
Research Associate in Philosophy and Instructor in Science Education
University at Buffalo, New York (USA)
Profile: My research focuses on American intellectual history, and the history of freethought, secularism, atheism, and naturalism back to the Greeks. I also explore ‘atheology’ which explains and defends atheism.
Ph.D. Candidate and Instructor of American religion and culture
Heidelberg University (Germany)
Profile: My research is focused on the cultural practices of belief in the United States. I am currently writing my dissertation on how belief and the conditions for belief are imagined in contemporary evangelical fiction. I am also interested in the historical development of 20th century atheisms in America.
Wesleyan University (USA)
Profile: Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock’s work explores the role that atheism and secularism played in the Communist project. Her forthcoming book, A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: The Spiritual Life of Soviet Atheism is about how the Soviet experience with “scientific atheism” transformed the political understanding of the state’s role in spiritual life. She is also working on a book about the religious question in Cold War politics.
Christoph De Spiegeleer
Liberaal Archief/Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium)
Profile: Christoph De Spiegeleer was educated at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Leiden. His research interests include the 19th-century history of liberalism and secularism. He is the author of a monograph on the Belgian freethinker Charles Potvin (1818-1902). His current research focuses on the relationship between funerary culture and secularization. He wrote his PhD about funerals of political and royal elites in Belgium between 1830 and 1940. He is currently engaged as Research Fellow of the Liberaal Archief, a recognized archive and documentation centre on the history of liberalism and freethought in Belgium.
University of Otago (New Zealand)
Profile: John Stenhouse teaches intellectual history, the history of science, European and New Zealand history at the University of Otago. His research interests centre on nineteenth century science, religion, secularism, race, gender, politics and their interconnections.
Senor Lecturer, Musicology
Monash University (Australia)
Profile: Paul Watt has published on the influence of the late nineteenth-century freethinkers on the career and writings of the English music critic, Ernest Newman (1868–1959). Paul is currently working on a new project, ‘Musical expressions of Auguste Comte’s positive philosophy in nineteenth-century music’ looking especially at the hymns of Malcolm Quin (1855–1945).
Lecturer in Modern European History
Queen’s University Belfast (UK)
Profile: My research concerns facets of secularist culture in modern Germany and Europe. I published a volume on monism as the essential worldview of most modern atheists and a monograph on secularism as a political and social formation of the nineteenth century. I’m now working on the transnational history of encounters between socialism and religion in the twentieth century.
AG Leventis Professor of Greek Culture
University of Cambridge (UK)
Profile: Tim Whitmarsh is a specialist in the literature, culture and thought of ancient Greece. He is the author of, among other books, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World (New York: Knopf, 2015; London: Faber and Faber, 2016).
Ball State University (USA)
Profile: Matthew Wilson is an intellectual historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century spatial design and the built environment. He is the author of Moralising Space: The Utopian Urbanism of the British Positivists, 1855-1920 (2018).
University of York (UK)
Profile: David Wootton has worked extensively on early modern unbelief, most recently Galileo (2010), and has a future project on secularisation from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.