I joined King’s as Lecturer in Religion and Social Science in September 2019.
After studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics as an undergraduate and Continental Philosophy for my MA, I worked as a social researcher in various policy and community settings. I returned to academic study in 2010, in order to undertake a PhD in Sociology at the University of Kent, and this research formed the basis of a book, published in 2016, Tragic Encounters and Ordinary Ethics: Palestine-Israel in British University (Manchester University Press).
Prior to joining King’s, I was an Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent and then a Research Fellow at Birkbeck, London, where I conducted an ethnographic study of the everyday ethics of neighbouring as part of a programme of work on ‘Psychosocial Components of Ethical Monotheism’.
Research interests and PhD supervision
- Sociology of religion
- Morality, ethics and political conflict
- Religious / secular encounters in everyday and institutional settings
- Religion and the ‘secular’ university
- Sociology and anthropology of ethno-religious (particularly Jewish) minorities
My research is broadly concerned with exploring encounters across difference within public life, examining the meanings, histories and investments at stake when religious and secular actors come into contact within the racialised, postcolonial and globalised landscapes of Western modernity. In order to investigate this, I initiate conversations across a range of disciplines, including the sociology of religion, cultural sociology, the anthropology of ethics and critical theory. In recent years, I have approached the question of cultural encounter through two long-term ethnographic projects, the first exploring the campus politics of Palestine-Israel within British universities and, more recently, a study of everyday relationships between neighbours within a ‘super-diverse’ urban neighbourhood in London. In addition to this substantive focus, my research is shaped by an abiding interest in ethnography as a practice implicated with the ethical question of what it means to ‘know’ the religious other within secular modern contexts.
I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students in any of these or related areas.
I teach modules on the Sociology of Religion, Lived Religion, and Religion and International Relations.
Expertise and public engagement
I have engaged in collaborations with activists, policymakers and inter-faith practitioners in order to address issues of religious inclusion, marginalisation, conflict and dialogue. This includes a recent collaboration with the Faith and Belief Forum (formally the Three Faith’s Forum) generating a series of policy roundtables and reports addressing themes of faith and inclusion in London.
- Sheldon, R. (2016) Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics: Palestine-Israel in British universities (Manchester: Manchester University Press)
- Sheldon, R. (2019). On Learning from the margins: Jewish nonreligious grammars within a Secular-Protestant landscape. Secularism and Nonreligion, 8: 8, pp. 1–6.
- Frosh, S. and Sheldon R. (2019) Transmission, relationality, ethnography Angelaki 24 (3), pp. 117-134.
- Sheldon, R (2016) Formative sociology and ethico-political imaginaries: opening up transnational responses to Palestine–Israel. Sociological Review. 64(4), pp.837-854.Sheldon, R (2016) Secularism, free speech and the public university: student engagement with Israel-Palestine in a British campus. In: Aune, K. and Stevenson, J. (eds.) Religion and Higher Education in Europe and North America. Research into Higher Education. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.