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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Professor J D Y Peel



J D Y Peel
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Emeritus Professor

Professor J D Y Peel
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A former President of the African Studies Association of the UK (1996-98) and Chair of the Social Anthropology and Human Geography Section of the British Academy (1997-2000), my main external involvement at present is as the General Editor of the International African Library, the monograph series of the IAI.



My research career began in the mid-1960s with field research on indigenous African churches among the Yoruba of south-western Nigeria. I did this from the LSE Sociology Department, and for the first half of my career I was identified as a sociologist, rather an anthropologist, with my first academic appointments at Nottingham and then back at LSE. At Nottingham, I developed an interest in the history of social theory, particularly of the Nineteenth Century and wrote a study of the sociological thought of Herbert Spencer. The relations between past and present, memory and narrative, and the need for the social sciences to be grounded in history have been enduring themes in my work. Invited back to Nigeria in the mid-1970s to join a new department of Sociology & Anthropology, I undertook a further field/archival study - focussed on politics and ethnicity - of a large Yoruba town, Ilesha. After two years, I returned to England to take up the post of Charles Booth Professor of Sociology at Liverpool. Serving as editor of Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (1979-86) brought me closer to anthropology, and in 1989 I moved to SOAS. My main project of the 1990s was a third Yoruba study, of their encounter with missionaries in the C.19 and its import for their sense of themselves as a people My current project grows out of my last book and knits together many of the themes of earlier work. It is for a long-span and comparative study of the mutual engagement of Evangelical Christianity and local cultural demand in West Africa, anchored in the present by the aim to situate historically the current wave of neo-Pentecostal or “Born-again” Christianity, and in the past by the first Evangelical encounters with the “liberated” Africans in Sierra Leone c.1820. A significant aspect of the project – again dictated by the contemporary situation in Nigeria – will be to compare the trajectories of Christianity and Islam in the region.


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Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • Africa
Country Expertise
  • Nigeria


Authored Books

Peel, J.D.Y. (2000) Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba. Indiana University Press.

Book Chapters

Peel, J.D.Y. (2005) 'Not Really a View from Without: The Relations of Social Anthropology and Sociology.' In: Halsey, A. H. and Runciman, W. G., (eds.), British Sociology Seen from Without and Within. Oxford University Press, pp. 70-93.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2004) 'Divergent Modes of Religiosity in West Africa.' In: Whitehouse, H. and Laidlaw, J., (eds.), Ritual and Memory. Toward a Comparative Anthropology of Religion. Altamira Press, pp. 11-30.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2004) 'Nigeria.' In: Encyclopedia of Protestantism, vol. 3. New York: Routledge, pp. 1401-1402.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2004) 'Spencer in History: the Second Century.' In: Jones, G. and Peel, R. A., (eds.), Herbert Spencer: The Intellectual Legacy. London: The Galton Institute, pp. 125-149.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2004) '"Awolowo, Obafemi", "MacRae, Donald Gunn", "Monica and Godfrey Wilson".' In: Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, Brian, (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2003) 'The arts and humanities: between history and ethnography.' In: Arnold, David and Shackle, Christopher, (eds.), SOAS Since the Sixties. London: SOAS, pp. 87-108.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2002) 'African Studies, Religion.' In: International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Elsevier (Amsterdam), pp. 259-263.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2002) 'Christianity and the Logic of Nationalist Assertion in Wole Soyinka's Isara.' In: Maxwell, D. and Lawrie, I., (eds.), Christianity and the African Imagination. Essays in Honour of Adrian Hastings. Brill, pp. 127-155.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2000) 'Yoruba as a city-state culture.' In: M, ed, (ed.), A Comparative Analysis of City-State Cultures. Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, pp. 507-517.

Peel, J.D.Y. (1998) 'Two pastors and their histories: Samuel Johnson and C C Reindorf.' In: P, ed, (ed.), The Recovery of the West African Past. Basler Afrika Bibliographien, pp. 57-78.

Peel, J.D.Y. (1997) 'A Comparative Analysis of Ogun in pre-colonial Yorubaland.' In: S, ed, (ed.), Africa''s Ogun - Old World and New. UNSPECIFIED, pp. 263-289.


Peel, J.D.Y. (2002) 'Gender in Yoruba Religious Change.' Journal of Religion in Africa, 32 (2). pp. 136-66.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2002) 'La reponse aux critiques de John D. Y. Peel [part of a review symposium devoted to Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba].' Politique africaine, vol. 8 . pp. 209-214.

Peel, J.D.Y. (2001) 'Adrian Hastings, 1929-2001: an appreciation.' Journal of Religion in Africa, vol. 3 . pp. 493-503.

This list was generated on Wed Nov 25 00:31:50 2015 GMT.