Alan Strathern's book Unearthly Powers: Religious and Political Change in World History has been awarded this year's World History Association Bentley Book Prize. The WHA Bentley prize was created in 1999 to recognize outstanding contributions to the field of world history.
Drawing on sociology and anthropology, as well as a huge range of historical literature from all regions and periods of world history, Dr Strathern sets out a new way of thinking about transformations in the fundamental nature of religion and its interaction with political authority. His analysis distinguishes between two quite different forms of religiosity - immanentism, which focused on worldly assistance, and transcendentalism, which centred on salvation from the human condition - and shows how their interaction shaped the course of history. Taking examples drawn from Ancient Rome to the Incas or nineteenth-century Tahiti, a host of phenomena, including sacred kingship, millenarianism, state-church struggles, reformations, iconoclasm, and, above all, conversion are revealed in a new light.
Alan Strathern teaches both European and Global History as a Fellow at Brasenose College, and a Lecturer at St. John's College. He is a member of the Oxford Global History Centre's Advisory Committee.
Check out this recent Global History Podcast in which Dr Strathern discusses religion and political authority in the Pre-Modern World.