I specialised in radio and television broadcasting at the same time as studying of theology in my undergraduate degree, and since then have found that combining studies of media with studies of religion to be a very fruitful and interesting pursuit. For my MTh degree at Oxford I studied literature and television for and of Generation X as a means of offering a soteriology for young people that takes seriously the problem of evil. My PhD fieldwork found me in Kiev, Ukraine, talking to students about the posters they put on their walls and the music they listen to, and discovered an underlying spirituality influenced both by traditional Orthodox belief and Communist atheism.
Since then, I have worked to develop a visual ethnographic research methodology called ‘Narrated Photography’, which uses participant generated photographs to talk about religious beliefs. My book, Visualising Hope, explains how this method was used to discover the spiritual journeys of students in five different cities across Eastern and Central Europe.
My research interests are church and ministry in the UK, practical theology and ministry training, visual ethnographic research methods, the sacred within contemporary culture, religion and belief among young people, religion in popular culture and the media, lived religion, migration, young people in Eastern and Central Europe.
I obtained an AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme Small grant for a project called “Migration and Visual Culture: An Exploration of Identity, Catholic Imagery and Popular Culture among Polish Young People”. In this case study of Polish people aged 18-30 living in Plymouth, the young people photographed what was ‘sacred’ to them. These images, along with their narration, formed an exhibition that gave the young people a ‘voice’ within the local community: What is Sacred.
More recently, I worked as the researcher on a study of Church of England chaplains on behalf of the Arch Bishop’s Mission and Public Affairs Committee. The five case studies included chaplains in a hospital, the police service, commercial sector, a university and the industrial sector.