Skip to main content

Professor in the Study of Religion, Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies Douglas J. Davies


D.Litt. (Oxon), FAcSS, FLSW, FBA

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in the Department of Theology and ReligionAbbey House 007+44 (0) 191 33 43943
Associate Member in the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS)  
Member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture  
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing +44 (0) 191 33 43943


I am both an anthropologist and theologian with theoretical and practical interests. After an initial degree in Anthropology at Durham I engaged in my first research on Mormonism at the Oxford Institute of Social Anthropology under the supervision of the sociologist Bryan Wilson. I then read a theology degree at Durham and shortly afterwards became Lecturer at Nottingham University where I became Professor of Religious Studies before leaving for Durham in 1997. During that period I engaged in further work on Mormonism, as well as in Sikhism and Anglicanism, and in death rites. I also completed my first doctorate there on the issue of meaning and salvation. In Durham, as Professor in the Study of Religion, I help teach undergraduate modules on the Introduction to the Study of Religion, and Death, Ritual and Belief, and a module for postgraduates on Ritual, Symbolism and Belief in the Anthropology of Religion. Academically speaking, I also hold the degree of D.Litt. from Oxford as well as an Honorary Dr. Theol. from the University of Uppsala in Sweden. In 2009 I was made an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences.

A great deal of my general work has sought to relate issues in theology and social (Anthropology and Theology, Berg, 2002). I then have several other areas of research interest. Special research in Mormonism has resulted in An Introduction to Mormonism, ( CUP. 2003) and The Mormon Culture of Salvation, (Ashgate. 2000) along with other books, chapters and encyclopaedia entries. I have also been a visiting professor at Brigham Young University in Utah. In terms of death Studies I have edited the Encyclopedia of Cremation, (with Lewis Mates: Ashgate, 2005), and also written A Brief History of Death, (Blackwell, 2004), Death, Ritual and Belief, (Revised and expanded edition, Continuum 2002). Extensive empirical research for Reusing Old Graves. (With A. Shaw. 1995) has been influential in relation to issues of burial reform in the UK. In terms of Christian church life I have, for example, joint edited ( with Helen Cameron, Philip Richter and Frances Ward) Studying Local Churches: A Handbook, ( SCM Press, 2005). My Private Passions, (Canterbury Press, 2000) was the Archbishop of Wales's Lent Book for that year. Church and Religion in Rural England. (With C. Watkins and M. Winter, 1991) involved a major study of the Church of England. Many other papers and book chapters numerous aspects of religious life including, for example, some biblical interests in, 'Purity, Spirit and Reciprocity in the Acts of the Apostles', in Anthropology and Biblical Studies, (eds) L.J.Lawrence and M.I. Aguilar, Leiden: Deo Publishing. 2004), and 'Rebounding Vitality: Resurrection and Spirit in Luke -Acts'. The Bible in Human Society. eds. M.D.Carroll, D.Clines and P. Davies. Sheffield Academic Press,1995.

Research interests

  • sociology and anthropology of religion
  • Mormon religion
  • death, ritual and belief
  • Emotions and Religion

Research Projects

  • The ‘Invisible Dead’ and the Development of Early Human Beliefs about the Body

Awarded Grants

  • 2008: CREMATION IN SCOTLAND(£236428.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2008: EMOTION, IDENTITY & RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES(£25301.00 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2007: GOLDERS GREEN FELLOWSHIP(£10000.00 from Golders Green Foundation)
  • 2007: GOLDERS GREEN STUDENT FELLOWSHIP(£4000.00 from Golders Green Foundation)
  • 2006: WAVE(£45566.00 from European Commission)
  • 2004: WELFARE AND RELIGION IN A EUROPEAN(£1000.00 from Diakonivetenskapliga Institutet)
  • 2001: THE CLERGY AND BRITISH SOCIETY 1940-2000(£135264.00 from Arts & Humanities Research Board)
  • 1997: GOLDERS GREEN FOUNDATION FUND(£47436.00 from Golders Green Foundation)
  • 1997: Religious Studies Research(£2080.00 from MISC Charities)

Esteem Indicators

  • 2017: Fellow of the British Academy:
  • 2016: Honorary Vice President of the Cremation Society of Great Britain:
  • 2012: Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales:
  • 2009: Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences:
  • 2009: President of the British Association for the Study of Religion (2009-12):
  • 2004: Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.), University of Oxford:
  • 1998: Hon.Dr.Theol (Uppsala): Prof Davies had the honorary degree of Doctor of Theology conferred upon him in 1998 by the University of Uppsala, Sweden.

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Ethics, Religion & Beliefs: Death ritual and belief
  • Religion: Death ritual and belief
  • Theology: Death ritual and belief
  • Health & Welfare: Death ritual and belief
  • Health & welfare services: Death ritual and belief
  • Public policy, health and well-being: Death ritual and belief
  • History & Archaeology: Death ritual and belief
  • World perspectives & techniques: Death ritual and belief
  • Social sciences: Death ritual and belief
  • Sociology: Death ritual and belief


Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Davies, Douglas J. (Published). Christ in Mormonism. In An Introduction to Mormonism. Hammer, Olav. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 170 -189.
  • Davies, D. (Published). Ethics of Cremation and Religion. In Handbook on cremation commemorative publications for the 75th anniversary of the International Cremation Federation. Lichtner, R. Fachverlag des deautschen Bestattungsgewerbes. 55-73.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (Published). Salvation, Death and Nature as Grace. In Alternative Salvations. Bacon, Hannah & Dossett, Wendy Bloomsbury Academic. 85-96.
  • Davies, Douglas J (Accepted). Kaleidoscopic Crematoria. In Goodbye Architecture. The Architecture of Crematoria in Europe. Valentijn, Vincent & Verhoeven, Kim nai010. 219-225.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2019). Ritual, Identify and Emotion. In The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ritual. Uro, Risto, Roitto, Rikard, Day, Juliette J. & DeMaris, Richard E. Oxford University Press. 55-73.
  • Davies, Douglas J (2018). Anthropology and Theology: Fugues of Thought and Action. In Theologicallyu Engaged Anthopology. Lemons, J. Derrick Oxford University Press. 194-210.
  • Davies, Douglas (2018). The death turn: interdisciplinarity, mourning and material culture. In The Materiality of Mourning: Cross-disciplinary perspectives. Newby, Zahra & Toulson, Ruth E. Routledge. 245-260.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2018). Kaleidoscopic Crematoria. In Goodbye Architecture - The Architecture of Crematoria in Europe. Valentijn, Vincent & Verhoeven, Kim NAI Publishers. 219-225.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2017). Death in material and metal culture. In Materiality and the Study of Religion: The Stuff of the Sacred. McKenzie,Joanne & HutchingS, Tim Routledge. 169/184.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2017). Death's Impossible Date. In Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Mortality and its Timings: When is Death?. McCorristine, Shane Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2016). Valuing Emotion in Tragedy. In Modernities, Memory and Mutations: Grace Davie and the Study of Religion. Day, Abby & Lövheim, Mia Routledge. 113-129.
  • Davies, Douglas (2015). Emotions, Grief, and Reality-Unreality in Human Mortality. In Death and Mortality: From Individual to Communal Perspectives. Hakola, Outi, Heinämaa, Sara & Phihlström, Sami Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. 10-31.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2015). Immortality. In The Role of Death in Life: A Multidisciplinary Examination of the Relationship between Life and Death. Behr,John & Cunningham, Conor Cascade Books. 31-44.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2014). Mormon Studies. In The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements. Chryssides,George D. & Zeller, Benjamin E. Bloomsbury Academic. 47-51.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2013). Thriving Through Myth. In Spirituality, Theology & Mental Health. Cook, Christopher C. H. SCM Press. 160-177.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2010). Geographies of the Spirit World. In The Matter of Death, Space, Place and Materiality. Hockey, Jenny., Komaromy, Carol. & Woodthorpe, Kate. Basingstoke.: Palgrave Macmillan. 208 - 222.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2009). Baptism for the dead; Cremation: Cremation Movements. In Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Condition. Bryant, Clifton & Peck, Dennis L. Los Angeles: Sage. 98 -101, 232 - 237, 237 - 241.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2009). Visions, Revelations and Courage in Joseph Smith. In Joseph Smith Jnr. Reappraisals after Two Centuries. Nelson, Reid L. & Givens, Terryl L. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 129 - 142.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2009). Superplausibility in Life and Death. In Religionssociologi i brytningstider. Bremborg, Anna Davidsson & et al. Lund, Sweden: Lund University. 13 - 28.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2009). Dying in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition. In The Study of Dying. Kellehear, Alan. Cambridge.: Cambridge University Press. 233 - 252.
  • Davies, D. J. (2008). Cultural Intensification: A Theory for religion. In Religion and the individual: belief, practice, identity. Day, Abby Aldershot: Ashgate. 7-18.
  • Davies, Douglas J. (2008). Resurrection and Immortality of the Soul. In Death our Future. Jupp, Peter C. London: Epworth. 82 - 92.
  • Davies, D. J. (2007). The invention of sacred tradition: Mormonism. In The Invention of Sacred Tradition. Lewis, J. R. & Hammer, O. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 56-75.
  • Davies, D. J. (2006). Inner Speech and Religious Traditions. In Theorizing Religion. Beckford, J. A. & Walliss, J. Aldershot: Ashgate. 211-223.
  • Davies, D. J. (2005). Forms of Disposal. In Death and Religion in a Changing World. Garces-Foley, K. New York: M. E. Sharpe. 228-245.
  • Davies, D. J. (2004). Priests, parish and people reconceiving a relationship. In Congregational studies in the UK Christianity in a post-Christian context. Guest, M., Tusting, K. & Woodhead, L. Aldershot: Ashgate. 153-168.
  • Davies, D. J. (2004). Time, Place and Mormon Sense of Self. In Religion, Identity and Change. Colemand, S. & Collins, P. Aldershot: Ashgate. 107-118.
  • Davies, D. J. (2001). Health morality and sacrifice the sociology of disasters. In The Blackwell companion to sociology of religion. Fenn, R. K. Oxford: Blackwell. 404-417.
  • Davies, DJ (1995). Rebounding Vitality: Resurrection and Spirit in Luke-Acts. In Carroll, M.D. Clines, D. & Davies, P. Sheffield Academic Press. 205-224.

Edited book

  • Davies, D.J. & Whitefield, R. (Forthcoming). Religious, Spiritual, and Ecclesiastical Responses to Death, Loss, Memory, and Mourning in the Long Nineteenth Century, 1780-1914. London: Routledge.
  • Davies, D.J., McCullough, M., Sandy, M., Scarre, G. & Whitefield, R. (Forthcoming). Historical, Political, and Public Responses to Death, Loss, Memory, and Mourning in the Long Nineteenth Century, 1780-1914. London: Routledge.
  • Davies, D.J. & McCullough, M. (Forthcoming). Music, Mortality, and Memory. Death in History, Culture, and Society. Brill Publishing.
  • Davies, Douglas.J. (ed.) (Forthcoming). The Bloomsbury Cultural History of Death. (6 vols.) London: Bloomsbury.
  • Davies, Douglas J. & Powell, Adam J. (2015). Sacred Selves, Sacred Setting: Reflecting Hans Mol. Ashgate.
  • Warne, Nathaniel A. & Davies, Douglas J. (2013). Emotions and Religious Dynamics. Emotions and Religious Dynamics.
  • Davies, Douglas James & Park, Chang-Won (2012). Emotion, Identity and death: Mortality Across Disciplines. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Davies, D. J., Cameron, H., Richter, P. & Ward, F. (2005). Studying Local Churches: A Handbook. London: SCM Press.
  • Davies, Douglas J. & Mates, Lewis H. (2005). Encyclopedia of Cremation. London: Ashgate.

Journal Article

Supervision students