University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Following a fellow


September 3, 2010

Irving Hexham, a professor in the Department of Religious Studies, was elected a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Historical Society (RHS) this past spring. Founded in 1868, the RHS is the foremost British association for those engaged professionally in researching and presenting public history.

The RHS awards Fellowships to individuals who have made an original contribution to historical scholarship in the form of significant published work. Hexham is one of only 86 scholars from Canadian universities to have been elected as a Fellow.

“I am honored to be awarded a Fellowship to the Royal Historical Society and must thank Donovan Williams, professor emeritus from the Department of History, for nominating me,” says Hexham.

Hexham’s primary interest is the study of new religious movements and the relationship between religion, politics and society. He is best known for his work on new religious movements in Africa, Europe and North America. Hexham’s most important contribution to history research is his work on Afrikaner Nationalism and the history of African Independent Churches.

“Following my mentor Ninian Smart, I see religious studies as a field that draws on various disciplines for its methods,” says Hexham. “I have always believed that it is important never to separate the study of religion from the historical and social contexts in which it occurs. When I write about religious issues historically I write as someone trained in secular history and not as someone who argues for approaching religion in some sort of special way.”

Hexham has published 23 academic books and is the author of over 100 articles and chapters in books. His articles have appeared in a wide range of international journals. In 2008, he was recognized with an academic festschrift from Humboldt University in Berlin.

More recently, Hexham has worked on new religions in Germany and their relationship to both National Socialism and the role of anti-Semitism in the rise of Biblical criticism in the 19th century. Currently, he is working on the religious aspects of neo-Nazism and has just completed a book, Understanding World Religions, scheduled for publication in 2011.

“To be elected a Fellow to the Royal Historical Society is a prestigious honour conferred on scholars whose research is judged to be excellent in quality and important in its field,” says Virginia Tumasz, Head of the Department of Religious Studies. “Dr. Hexham’s election to the Fellowship by members of the Society is a testament to the breadth and importance of his work and to his international reputation as an historian of religions.”