Joel Cabrita

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Joel Cabrita’s research is on the history of Christianity in Southern Africa, particularly from the early twentieth century to the present-day. She has focused on the much-studied, so-called ‘Independent churches’, and is particularly interested in inserting these influential churches within broader transnational histories of religion. Joel’s first book is Text and Authority in the South African Nazaretha Church (Cambridge University Press, 2014). It tells the story of how the Nazaretha church - one of Southern Africa's largest religious organizations - created a new body of sacred scriptures. She is currently writing a book about the international history of a popular Christian faith healing movement called Zionism. Unrelated to Jewish Zionism, the movement initially took its name from its location in the small mid-Western town of Zion, Illinois. By the late nineteenth century, Zionist teachings had spread across the world (including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain), as well as to South Africa, which became a key area for both European and African Zionist believers. Joel’s research traces the changing relationship between North American and black South African Zionists, examining how the latter used their links to an American church as a means to improve their standing within the apartheid-era state. Joel is a lecturer in World Christianities at the Faculty of Divinity in the University of Cambridge, and is also a member of the Centre for African Studies there.