Dr Abel Ugba, SFHEA

Dr Abel Ugba, SFHEA


I am a sociologist who is interested in the dynamics and implications of religiosity in immigration contexts and in migrants’ engagement with the media. For fifteen years, I have studied the manifestations of transnational Pentecostalism among Europe’s new African diasporas, focusing on the implications of religiosity for self-understanding and for the construction of social boundaries and commonalities in a precarious and racialised immigration environment. I am an experienced researcher who has participated in international projects, including EU-funded ones.

Research interests

My research has been influenced by my interdisciplinary academic background and my experience of living and working in several European countries. A detailed empirical investigation of African-led Pentecostalism in Ireland that I conducted concluded that Pentecostalism had enabled African immigrants to construct an alternative and subversive interpretation of their presence and social location in a challenging immigration milieu. It also enabled them to articulate a self-understanding and an identity that did not essentialise ethnicity or nationality. However, the parallel socio-cultural universe that Pentecostal activism and ideas created for believers could ultimately make their integration into the dominant society problematic. The monograph that resulted from my research has been reviewed in reputable journals. In PentecoStudies, Professor Stephen Hunt describes the book as “a sophisticated account” that is “founded upon detailed ethnographic fieldwork” while the African Studies Review notes that “Ugba’s book…will be of immense interest to scholars and students of religion, African culture, and diaspora and migration studies”.

Recently, my research has focused on media and religion and the appropriation of new media by immigrants and ethnic minorities to self-represent and self-define. I have researched media representation of Black Majority Churches in the UK and presented the findings as a book chapter, published by Routledge in 2014. In 2017, I published another chapter based on my investigation of UK media portrayal of religion and ethnicity in sports. Please, see CV for other publications by me.

I am currently leading the UK arm of a transnational research project on the doctrines and practices of divine healing among African Pentecstals in Africa and the diaspora.

On a different project, I am relying data from in-depth semi-structured interviews to articulate the acculturation and integration experiences of exiled journalists in the UK.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for African Studies
  • Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies