A former Police Officer for Kent Police, Steven is now a full-time Ph.D. scholarship student, specialising in Theology and Religious Studies, as well as Traveller and Gypsy studies. He graduated with a 1st with Honours in Theology and Religious Studies and was awarded the Lindsay Jones Memorial Prize for ‘best student and outstanding contribution to the department’. In 2014 Steven was also awarded the University’s coveted Templeman Prize. Alongside working on his doctorate, he regularly contributes to discussions in his field through seminars, teaching and blogging. Steven’s research interests in both theology and Gypsy culture stem from personal experience and a passion for social change and understanding. Steven wishes (and has begun) to take his research into the mainstream through various avenues, including general media, television and publication.
My concept ‘Traveller Theology’ is essentially an amalgamation of theological understanding and Gypsy/Traveller conceptions and practices. The area of spirituality in Traveller and Gypsy studies is virtually un-investigated barring the regurgitated tales of palmistry and tarot-card reading. ‘Traveller theology’ is an attempt to go deeper, beyond the readily observable and direct. Exploring Traveller identity from within a position of social suspicion through a developing theological framework, Traveller theology enables a globally persecuted and ostracised community to begin to form their own cultural and spiritual identity; the subsequent translation happening by way of established theological practices, as well as a cultural anthropology with a biographical influence. Investigating themes and areas of Traveller life through a theological lens allows for a picture to develop that reveals a complexity and depth to Traveller thought and spirituality that (with particular reference to modern UK Travellers), is unexplored. As such, a new representation of Travellers is allowed to emerge, devoid of prejudice and media-fuelled opinion. Areas such as identity are heavily explored, enabling the emerging dialogue and text the ability to facilitate a dual-engagement by Travellers and non-Travellers alike; primarily by way of its Christian centrality but also by its Universalistic approach. Whilst the project is still in its infancy, it is perhaps the perfect time for its message to be heard as we enter a period where Traveller identity itself is being contested by the UK Government.
- Rev. Dr Ivan Khovacs (first supervisor)
- Professor Robert Beckford (second supervisor)
- Dr Brian Capper (chair)