Department of Sociology

Academic Profile

David Lehmann


David Lehmann is Reader in Social Science. He was born in 1944 and educated in Modern Languages (BA) and Sociology (BPhil and DPhil) at New College Oxford. Before coming to Cambridge he worked at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and the University of Kent. In Cambridge he has worked in Development Studies, Latin American Studies, in the Faculty of Human, Social, and Political Science , and in the Department of Sociology in that Faculty. He was Director of the Centre of Latin American Studies from 1990-1999.

He has supervised numerous doctoral theses on subjects relating to Latin America and to Religion.

Brief CV

He has taught at the Universities of Brasilia, São Paulo, the State University of Rio de Janeiro, the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Université de Paris IV, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and at FLACSO-Quito, and has been a Visiting Researcher at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University. In 1999-2001 he was Chair of the Society of Latin American Studies.

Lehmann’s research began with Agrarian Reform in Chile (1968-73) and continued on similar development-related themes in Ecuador (1980-81), but then shifted towards religion, especially in Brazil, focusing first on Catholics and later on Evangelicals. In 1999 he began to do research in Israel, on religion and ethnicity, and recently has extended this theme into that of multiculturalism, He currently holds a British Academy Research Grant for a long-term study of the diffusion of multiculturalism in Latin America, which focuses on Mexico, Peru and Brazil, and he holds a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to lead a Network on the subject of Secularism and the need to reappraise its conceptual and institutional underpinnings.

Selected publications


Democracy and Development in Latin America: Economics, politics and religion in the postwar period, Cambridge, Polity Press, (U.S. edition: Temple University Press.), 1990.

Struggle for the Spirit: Religious Transformation and Popular Culture in Brazil and Latin America, Oxford, Polity Press, (U.S. edition, Blackwell International, 1996

(with Batia Siebzehner) Remaking Israeli Judaism: the challenge of Shas, London, Hurst and Company, New York OUP, 2006

(edited) Agrarian Reform and Agrarian Reformism. London, Faber and Faber, 1974.

(edited) Development Theory: Four Critical Studies. London, Frank Cass, 1979.

(edited) Ecology and Exchange in the Andes, Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Selected recent papers

‘Fundamentalism and globalism’, Third World Quarterly, 19,1, pp.607-634, 1998

(with Patricia Birman) ‘Religion and the media in a battle for ideological hegemony: the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and TV Globo in Brazil’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 18,2, April 1999, 145-164

‘Charisma and possession in Africa and Brazil’ Theory, Culture and Society, 18, 5, 45-74 2001.

‘Religion in contemporary Latin American social science’, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 21,2, 290-307, 2002.  

‘Dissidence and conformism in religious movements: what difference – if any – separates the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and Pentecostal Churches?’ Concilium, 3, 2003, pp. 122-138

‘The cognitive approach to understanding religion’, Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions 131-132: 199-213, 2005.

‘Secularism and the Public–Private Divide: Europe can learn from Latin America’, Political Theology, 7, 3:273-293, 2006

Publications in Translation:

‘Fundamentalismo: una forma de ser moderno’, Punto de Vista (Buenos Aires), 66, 20-30, April, 2000. (translation of  ‘Fundamentalism and globalism’ above)

‘Fundamentalismo y globalismo’, Política (Madrid) 2000 (translation of  ‘Fundamentalism and globalism’ above)

‘Charisme et possession en Afrique et au Brésil’, in Françoise Champion and Jean-Philippe Bastian (eds.): La globalisation du religieux, Paris L’Harmattan, 2000.           

La religión en las ciencias sociales latinoamericanas, Revista Mexicana de Sociología, 2005