The World History Association Bentley prize was created in 1999 to recognise outstanding contributions to the field of world history.

Professor Alan StrathernCongratulations to Professor Alan Strathern, Associate College Lecturer in Early Modern History, whose book Unearthly Powers: Religious and Political Change in World History has been awarded this year’s World History Association Bentley Book Prize

Drawing on sociology and anthropology, as well as a huge range of historical literature from all regions and periods of world history, Alan Strathern sets out a new way of thinking about transformations in the fundamental nature of religion and its interaction with political authority. His analysis distinguishes between two quite different forms of religiosity – immanentism, which focused on worldly assistance, and transcendentalism, which centred on salvation from the human condition – and shows how their interaction shaped the course of history. Taking examples drawn from Ancient Rome to the Incas or nineteenth-century Tahiti, a host of phenomena, including sacred kingship, millenarianism, state-church struggles, reformations, iconoclasm, and, above all, conversion are revealed in a new light.

Professor Strathern teaches primarily early modern European and World History. Initially specialising in the history of Sri Lanka c.1500-1650, his work has increasingly adopted a more comparative or interdisciplinary approach, addressing themes such as origin myths, ethnic consciousness, sacred kingship, and first encounters.