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Dr David G Robertson

Profile summary

Professional biography

I began studying religion at the University of Edinburgh, focusing initially on the New Testament, but quickly switching to New and Alternative Religions. My interest in theory grew steadily as I worked on an MSc (by research) on contemporary Gnostic groups and my PhD on Conspiracy Theories in the New Age movement. All of these come together in my current project, a critical history of Gnosticism in the History of Religions school.

I'm also fascinated by communications technology. As well as running the Religious Studies blog here at the Open University, I co-founded the Religious Studies Project, a podcast showcasing cutting-edge social-scientific research on religion, supported by the BASR, NAASR and IAHR.


Research interests

  • Conspiracy theories in, as or about religion
  • Contemporary Gnosticism
  • Critical theory in the study of religion
  • The History of Religions school
  • New Religious Movements
  • Teaching and Learning in Religious Studies 

Current research project:

Elite Knowledge: Gnosticism and the History of Religions School

Elite Knowledge is a critical history of this problematic category, and its relationship with scholarly and popular discourse on religion in the twentieth century. It will show how ideas about Gnosticism developed in late 19th and 20th century scholarship, drawing from continental phenomenology, Jungian psychology and post-Holocaust theology, coming to be constructed as a perennial religious current based on special knowledge of the divine in a corrupt world.

Teaching interests

I have a passion for using unconventional subjects like new religions and conspiracy theories as ways into thinking critically about religion, society and "belief". I have been teaching on A227, Exploring Religion, as an Associate Lecturer since 2017. I am currently contirbuting a Module to the interdisciplinary course DD218, Understanding Digital Societies, on "Disinformation, Misinformation & Conspiracies", and will co-writing a module on secularization and religious innovation the 1960s for A113 Revolutions, with John Maiden.

External collaborations

The Religious Studies Project | Founding Editor, Interviewer and Podcast Co-Host

An innovative podcast and website project presented in association with the British Association for the Study of Religions and working with an international team in six countries. Featuring weekly interviews with leading international scholars in the academic study of religion, in addition to features essays, book reviews, roundtable discussions, opportunities digests and more. (

British Association for the Study of Religions | BASR Bulletin Editor

Implicit Religion (Equinox) | Co-Editor (2016-2020)

This international journal offers a platform for scholarship that challenges the traditional boundary between religion and non-religion and the tacit assumptions underlying this distinction. It invites contributions from a critical perspective on various cultural formations that are usually excluded from religion by the gatekeeping practices of the general public, practitioners, the law, and even some scholars of religion. Taking a broad scope, Implicit Religion showcases analyses of material from the mundane to the extraordinary, but always with critical questions in mind such as: why is this data boundary-challenging? what do such marginal cases tell us about boundary management and category formation with respect to religion? and what interests are being served through acts of inclusion and exclusion?


[Review Essay] A Gnostic Study of Religions (2020-01-24)
Robertson, David G.
Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, 32(1) (pp. 75-88)

“Tuning Ourselves” (2017-01-01)
Robertson, David G.
Religion and the Arts, 21(1-2) (pp. 236-258)

Silver Bullets and Seed Banks: A Material Analysis of Conspiracist Millennialism (2015-11-30)
Robertson, David G.
Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 19(2) (pp. 83-99)

Conspiracy Theories and the Study of Alternative and Emergent Religions (2015-11)
Robertson, David G.
Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, 19(2) (pp. 5-16)

David Icke’s Reptilian Thesis and the Development of New Age Theodicy (2013-09-07)
Robertson, David G.
International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 4(1) (pp. 27-47)

UFOs, conspiracy theories and the new age: Millennial conspiracism (2016-02-25)
Robertson, David
Bloomsbury Advances in Religious Studies
ISBN : 9781474253208 | Publisher : Bloomsbury

The Counter-Elite: Strategies of Authority in Millennial Conspiracism (2018)
Robertson, David G.
In: Dyrendal, Asbjørn; Robertson, David G. and Asprem, Egil eds. Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion
ISBN : 978-90-04-38202-2 | Publisher : Brill

Introducing the Field: Conspiracy Theory in, about, and as Religion (2018)
Robertson, David G.; Asprem, Egil and Dyrendal, Asbjørn
In: Dyrendal, Asbjørn; Robertson, David G. and Asprem, Egil eds. Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion
ISBN : 978-90-04-38202-2 | Publisher : Brill

Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion (2018-10-02)
Robertson, David; Dyrendal, Asbjorn and Asprem, Egil eds.
Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion
ISBN : 978-90-04-38202-2 | Publisher : Brill | Published : Leiden

After world religions: Reconstructing Religious Studies (2016-02-05)
Robertson, David and Cotter, Christopher eds.
Religion in Culture: Studies in Social Contest and Construction
ISBN : 9781138919136 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London