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Philippe Denis

Position Senior Professor
Discipline History of Christianity
Phone 033 260 5348
Campus Pietermaritzbug Campus
Office Address Room 105C, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Other Research Profiles ResearchGate

Degrees Held

  • Licenciate in History (University of Liège); PhD History (University of Liège),  Lectorate in Theology (CEI Lille)

Research Interests

  • History of Christianity, Memory Studies, Oral History

Teaching Interests

  • History of Christianity, Research Methodology


  • Edmond et le renouveau du conciliarisme au dix-septième siècle (Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 2014), 387 p.
  •  Edmond Richer, De la puissance ecclésiastique et politique. Texte de la première édition latine (1611) et française (1612), introduit et annoté par Philippe Denis (Paris, Éditions du Cerf, 2014).
  • (edition of, with Lucas Ngoetjana), Voices of farmers, landless people, land movements and church in KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications, 2016)

Journal Articles

  • “The Beginnings of Anglican Theological Education in South Africa, 1848-1963” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 63/3 (July 2012), 516-533.
  • “Economic activities and money exchanges in the African Independent Churches of South Africa”, Cristianesimo nella Storia, 33/2 (2012) 715-732.
  • a)“African indigenous Christianity in a geo-historical perspective”, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, 38/2 (2012), 1-22.
  • “The churches’ response in political violence during the last years of apartheid. The case of Mpophomeni in the Natal Midlands”, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae; 39/1 (May 2013), 13-34.
  • “Ecumenical Education and Social Change. The Case of the Federal Theological Seminary of Southern Africa”, The Ecumenical Review, 65/2 (July 2013), 244-257.
  • “The Journal of Theological for Southern Africa and the Emergence of Contextual Theology in Southern Africa”, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 146 (June 2013), 6-23.
  • “Archbishop Denis Hurley’s Strange Silence on Apartheid at Vatican II”, Ephemerides Theologiae Lovanienses, 89/1 (2013), 411-423.
  • “The suspension and resignation of Francis Pfanner, first abbot of Mariannhill”, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, vol. 40/2 (2013), 39-56.
  • “Is stigma receding? Stories of AIDS support group members in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa”, Oral History Journal of South Africa, vol. 1 (2013), 3-16.
  • “HIV/AIDS and religion in sub-Saharan Africa: an emerging field of enquiry”, Archives de sciences sociales de religion, 164 (Oct.-Dec 2013), 43-58
  • “New patterns of disclosure. How HIV positive support group members from KwaZulu-Natal speak of their status in oral narratives”, Medical History, 58/2 (April 2014), 278-297.
  • “Bulletin d’histoire du christianisme en Afrique”, Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique, 110/1-2 (2015), 281-294.
  • “Thirty years later. Albert Nolan on the Kairos Document and its relevance today. Interview conducted and introduced by Philippe Denis”, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 151 (March 2015), 6-23
  • (with Sabine Marschall), “Editorial: Memory Studies”, Alternation 22,2 (2015) 1 - 7
  • (with Philani Dlamini), “Multiple layers of memory: the history of Mpophomeni told and retold”, Alternation 22,2 (2015) 73 – 99.
  • “Abbot Pfanner, the Glen Grey Act and the Native Question”, South African Historical Journal, 67 (2015), No. 3, 271–292.
  • “Is there truth in history? “Is there truth in history? The challenge of teaching History of Christianity in a post-modern world”, 32/3 (November 2015), 25-37. Grace and Truth. A Journal of Catholic Reflection for Southern Africa
  • “Memory and commemoration as a subject of enquiry for African Christianity scholars”, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, 41/3 (2015), 4-22
  • “The foundation years of the Pietermaritzburg Cluster of Theological Institutions”, Grace and Truth, 33/2 (2016), 25-30.
  • (with Dr Maimbo Mndolwa), “Anglicanism, Uhuru and Ujamaa. Anglicans in Tanzania and the Movement for Independence”, Journal of Anglican Studies, 14/2 (2016), 192-209.
  • “Timeboundness and Prophetism in the Theology of Albert Nolan”, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 145 (November 2016), 5-19.
  • “Oral histories of HIV/AIDS
  • support group members, NGO workers and home-based carers in KwaZulu-Natal”, African Journal of AIDS Research, 15/1 (2016), 27-34

Chapter in Books

  • “The historical roots of South African Congregationalism”, in James Cochrane, Elias Mbongwa, Isabel Phiri & Des van der Water, eds., Living on the Edge. Essays in Honour of Steve de Gruchy, Activist & Theologian, Pietermaritzburg, Cluster Publications, 2012, 303-319.
  • “Un nouveau pôle d’attraction : les étudiants étrangers en Afrique du Sud depuis la fin de l’apartheid”, in Françoise Hiraux and Françoise Minguet, eds., Finances, mobilités et projets d’éducation universitaire, Louvain-la-Neuve, Academia-L’Harmattan, 2012, 255-263
  • “Les mutations du sentiment religieux au temps du sida”, in Gerald Hobbs and Annie Noblesse-Rocher (eds), Bible, histoire et société. Mélanges offerts à Bernard Roussel. Turnhout, Brepols, 2013, 319-329
  • “Ébauche d’une géohistoire du christianisme africain”, Alberto Melloni, Giuseppe Ruggieri and Silvia Cristofora, eds, Formes de vie chrétienne en Afrique. Actes du colloque de Bologne, 11-13 avril 2012, Dakar, L’Harmattan Sénégal, 2014, 50-27.
  • “Christianity in southern Africa”, in Isabel Apawo Phiri, Werner Dietrich, Chammah Kaunda and Kennedy Owino, eds, Anthology of African Christianity, Geneva (Oxford: Regnum, 2016), 248-260.
  • “Changing religious beliefs and attitudes among people living with HIV in South Africa”, in Jacquineau Azetsop, ed., HIV and AIDS in Africa. Christian Reflection, Public Health, Social Transformation (New York, Orbis, 2016), 65-76.


  • Andrew Kruger (reg. 2009, grad. 2012)
    The Eucharist in a time of change.  The Eucharist as practised at the Church of the Ascension, Hilton from 1975 to 2002
  • Linda Naicker (reg. 2010 grad. 2012)
    Crossing the colour-bar: Mixed Race Relationships between black/white couples in the context of apartheid.
  • Thomas Ninan (reg 2011, grad. 2015).  
    Towards an HIV competent church: the Hillcrest AIDS Centre, a pioneering faith response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa (1990 to 2001).
  • Ezechiel Rivuzimana (reg. 2014, grad. 2016)
    Colonization and Evangelization. The development of the Catholic indigenous clergy in Burundi under the Belgian colonial administration, 1916 - 1961


  • Kennedy Gondongwe (reg. 2009, grad. 2012)
    The development of indigenous clergy in the Methodist Church in Mashonaland (1888-1930)
  • Radikobo Ntsimane (reg. 2000, grad. 2013)
    A Critical History of the Lutheran Medical Missions in Southern Africa with Special Emphasis on Four Hospitals.
  • Michael Mbona (reg. 2009, grad. 2013)
    The Church and HIV and AIDS:  An evaluation of the response of the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church to HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment in Manicaland, Zimbabwe (1985-2007)
  • Maimbo Mndolwa (reg. 2010, grad. 2013)
    From Anglicanism to African socialism. The Anglican Church and Ujamaa in Tanzania (1955-2005)
  • Millicent Atujuna (reg 2004, grad. 2013) [School of Built Environment and Development]
    Church-Based Social Spaces and HIV/AIDS in Rural South Africa
  • Mxolisi Mchunu  (reg. 2007, grad. 2014) [School of Historical Studies]
    A History of Political Violence in KwaShange, Vulindlela district and of its effects on the memories of survivors (1987-2008)
  • Ishaya, Edward (reg. 2005, grad. 2015)
    Christian Life and the Rise of Pentecostalism in Adamawa State Nigeria, 1970 to 2005
  • Lois Moyo (reg. 2008, grad. 2016) [co-supervision with Prof Isabel Phiri]
    Faith and resilience in child or youth-headed households: a gendered exploration into the socio-economic and religio-cultural circumstances of children and youths living on their own in Slangspruit in Pietermaritzburg in times of HIV and AIDS
  • Allen Goddard (reg. 2012, grad. 2016)
    Invitations to Integral Spirituality in the Students’ Christian Association’s Discipleship Programmes1973 to 1997
  • Mochechane, Steve (reg. 2013, grad. 2016)
    Race and Culture in Pentecostalism. From Nicholas Bhengu and Andrew Pettegree to the International Assemblies of God (1933-1990)
  • Cogitator Mapala (reg. 2014, grad. 2017)
    A Historical Perspective on the Border Dispute between the Livingstonia and the Nkhoma Synods of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (1890-2013)
  • Jock Agai (reg. 2013, grad. 2017)
    Yoruba Origins: A Reflection on the Tradition of Yoruba Cultural Connection with the Ancient Egyptians (1846-1970)

Community Involvement

  • Director of Research and Board member, Sinomlando Centre for Oral History and Memory Work in Africa
  • Board member, Thandanani Children’s Foundation
  • Board member, Centre for Community Justice and Development

Teaching Expertise

  • History of Christianity, from 1st year to PhD.

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