PhD University of Birmingham
With particular research interests in African and African Caribbean history, Religion and Popular Culture, Professor Beckford interrogates the intersection(s) of social history, religious experience and cultural politics.
Professor Beckford researches in written, visual and audio texts and has won numerous awards, including a BAFTA. He has presented over twenty television documentaries on commercial television stations, including Channel 4, BBC 2, BBC4 and Discovery USA. Professor Beckford has also worked as radio presenter for BBC Radio.
Professor Beckford is the Program Director for the BA in Theology taught in Woolwich, London at Christ College. http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/arts-and-humanities/school-of-humanities/theology/christ-college-woolwich.aspx
Most recent media work -
BBC Radio World Service, The Jamaican New Testament (2017 fortcoming)
BBC Radio (English Regions) (2017) 'Jesus Piece' 4x15 min Drama See http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2017/jesus-piece
BBC 1 Battle for Christianty (2016), http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b075634m
Research and knowledge exchange
Current Research Projects
Theo-musicology: The Jamaican Bible Remix Project
My current research constructs an urban theo-musicological practice. By triangulating samples of the audio of the Jamaican New Testament, critical themes from black liberation theology and select genres from the black British urban music canon, I create a new musical genre or 'social gospel music.' This project is a collaboration with the Bible Society of Great Britain, and 5AM Records. This research will be disseminated in written and audio (studio album) formats. See -
* 'Is David Starkey Right, or has the Jamaican Bible Movement lost its mind?' In L. Palmer and K. Andrews (eds), Blackness in Britain. London: Routlege, 2016.
Theo-political Drama: 'Jesus Piece' BBC Radio Drama Series
'Jesus piece' is a four-part radio detective drama series for BBC Regions for 2017. Set in Pentecostal church, the protagonist, an activist urban preacher, is forced to solve a murder in his community, after the police declare him a prime suspect. The project is a collaboration with BBC Regions.
I am interested in applications seeking to explore the interfaces between theology, popular culture and political action. I am currently supervising students researching:
The African spirituality of Jamaican reggae-dancehall
Black Politics in Britain - A study of the personal archives of Bernie Grant MP
Biblical Studies - A political reading of the Ethiopian Eunuch in the book of Acts
Economic empowerment and religious communities
The new Christian Left
Rastafari in literature
Eastern Caribbean Liberation Theology
Teaching and subject expertise
Theology and Urban Cultures
Theology and Documentary Film Practice
BBC 2 Documentary
My latest film, 'The Battle for Christianity' (BBC2) was broadcast in March 2016.
I have presented special editions of Songs of Priase on the Notting Hill Carnival and the Black and British Season (2016)
BBC Radio Documentary
My lastes radio documentary, 'Doping, Diving and God' (BBC World Service) was broadcast in August 2016.
F.D. Maurice Lectures in Spring 2018, Kings College, London (2018), 'Doing Theolgy in the Age of Black Lives Matter.'
Publications and research outputs
Jamaican Bible Remix, 5AM Records. January 2017.
Beckford, R. (2014) Documentary as Exorcism: Resisting the Bewitchment of Colonial Christianity. London: Bloomsbury.
Beckford, R. (2006) Jesus Dub: Theology, Music and Social Change. London: Routledge.
Beckford, R (2004) God and the Gangs: An Urban Toolkit for Those Who Won't Be Bought Out, Sold Out or Scared Out. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.
Beckford, R. (2003) God of the Rhatid: Redeeming Rage. London: Darton, Longman and Todd
Beckford, R. (2000) Dread and Pentecostal: A Political Theology for the Black Church in Britain. London: SPCK.
Beckford, R. (1998) Jesus is Dread: Black Theology and Black Culture in Britain. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.
Television Documentaries (select)
Beckford, R. (2016), The Battle for Christianity, BBC1
Beckford, R. (2014), Seven Wonders of Brazil, BBC2.
Beckford, R. (2014), Easter? BBC iWonder.
Beckford, R. (2014), Series consultant, A Very British Mission (Lent 4Thoughs) Channel 4.
Beckford, R. (2010), God Bless You Barack Obama: Barak Obama and Religion, BBC2.
Beckford, R. (2010), The Bible A History: Revelation, The Final Judgment, Channel 4.
Beckford, R. (2009), The Dark Ages (programme 3) The History of Christianity, Channel 4.
Beckford, R. (2008), The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples, Channel 4.
Beckford, R. (2008), The Nativity Decoded, Channel 4.
Beckford, R. (2007), The Hidden Story of Jesus, Channel 4.
Beckford, R. (2007), Hidden Jerusalem, Discovery USA.
Beckford, R. (2007), The Great African Scandal, Channel 4.
Doping, Diving and God (BBC World Service, 2016)
The divinity of Haile Selassie (BBC World Service, 2014)
With Kwame Kwei-Armah, (drama) Father Son and Holy Ghost (BBC Radio 3, 2012)