Dr Fiona Bowie

fiona bowie

Research Affiliate

Current positions
Member of Wolfson College, Oxford
Honorary Treasurer and Fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute, London
Founder, Afterlife Research Centre http://www.afterliferesearch.co.uk

DPhil (Oxford University), Institute of Social Anthropology 1985
BA (Hons, First Class) Anthropology, University of Durham 1978
PGCE University of Wales 1987

Research interests

  • Ethnography of the afterlife
  • Mediumship, shamanism, spirit possession and spirit release
  • Alternative forms of spiritual healing (current research)
  • Witchcraft and healing in North West France (current research)
  • Anthropology of consciousness
  • Religious experience
  • Pilgrimage
  • African religion and society (Cameroon)
  • African diaspora (current research)
  • Religion in Wales
  • Kinship (adoption and child circulation)
  • Gender and spirituality

Former employment and affiliations
2019: Panel Member, ICREA (Catalan Research Council)
2016-2018: Panel Member European Research Council
2012-2018 Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Department of Theology & Religious Studies, King’s College London
2010-2012: Honorary Research Fellow, University of Bristol, UK
2002-2010: Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Bristol, UK
1993-2002: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies and Anthropology, University of Wales Lampeter.

Visiting lectureships
Visiting Research Fellow in the Carter Woodson Institute for African and African American Affairs at the University of Virginia (2003-2008)
The University of Virginia, USA (2002/3) (Department of Religious Studies, with guest lectures in Gender Studies)
Clare Hall, Cambridge (Visiting scholar, 1999)
University of Linköping, Sweden, Lectures in Social Anthropology and Feminist Theology (1996, 1997)

External Examining: I have acted as external examiner for undergraduate and Masters degrees in the following institutions:
Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent (MA in Cosmology and Divination) 
University of Southampton (BA and BSc in Social Science)
Department of Anthropology, University of Durham (Stockton Campus), (BA and BSc in Health Studies.)
Department of Religious Studies, University of Stirling, (BA and MA in Religious Studies)
Department of Anthropology, University of Kent, (BA and  BSc Anthropology).
Department of Religious Studies, University of Lancaster, (MA in Religious Studies)
Faculty of Social Science, Liverpool Hope University, (BA in Women’s Studies)
Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Wales Trinity St David, (BA Theology and Religious Studies)
PhD/DPhil External Examiner: Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, UCL, King’s College London, Leeds and Bradford, UWTSD.
Internal Examiner: UWL, Bristol.

Forthcoming Publications (2022)

“Channelling an Archangel: An Apprenticeship in Metatronic Life and Healing®”. In Other Worlds, Other Bodies: Embodied Epistemologies and Ethnographies of Healing, Eds. Emily Pierini, Alberto Groisman and Diana Espirito Santo. Oxford: Berghahn.

“The Role of Intention in Witchcraft and Bullying”. In La Violence insidieuse – Anthropologie et psychologie de la sorcellerie et du harcèlement moral, eds. Eds. Erwan Dianteill, Serena Bindi, Thierry Lamote. Paris: Archives Karéline

‘Spirit Possession and Spirit Release Therapy: Notions of Self and Afterlife as Reflected in Contemporary Practices of Healing’. In Marcello Muscari, Ehler Voss & Martin Zillinger (eds) Skill and Scale in Transnational Mediumship. Springer, Contributions to Praxeology Series. Cham: Switzerland.

Recent Publications

2021 Social Anthropologies of the Welsh: Past and Present (eds) W. J. Morgan and Fiona Bowie. ‘Introduction’ (with W.J. Morgan), pp.1-17 and Ch.5 ‘Anthropological perspectives on religion in Wales’ pp.94-122.  Sean Kingston Publishing: London. RAI World Anthropologies Series.

2020 , ‘Miraculous and Extraordinary Events as Religious Experience’. In Chad Meister & Paul Moser (eds) The Cambridge Companion to Religious Experience, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp.261-283.

2020 ‘Anthropology of Religion’. Nickolas P. Roubekas and Robert A. Segal (eds) Wiley/Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion, 2nd edition. Wiley-Blackwell: Chichester, pp. 4-26.

2020 ‘Mountains as sources of power in seen and unseen worlds’. In Darrelyn Gunzburg and Bernadette Brady (eds) Space, Place, and Religious Landscapes: Living Mountains. Bloomsbury Academic: London, pp.123-268.

2020 ‘Experience and Ontology in the Study of Religion’. In Nickolas P. Roubekas and Thomas Ryba (eds) Explaining, Interpreting, and Theorizing Religion and Myth. Contributions in Honor of Robert A. Segal. Supplements to Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Brill: Leiden, Vol.16, pp.196-216.

2019 ‘Negotiating Blurred Boundaries: Ethnographic and Methodological Considerations’. In George D. Chryssides and Stephen E. Gregg (eds) The Insider/Outsider Debate: New Perspectives in the Study of Religion. Equinox: Sheffield, pp.110-129.

2016 ‘How to Study Religious Experience: Methodological Reflections on the Study of the Paranormal’. In Bettina Schmidt (ed.) The Study of Religious Experience: Approaches and Methodologies. Equinox (pp.13-32).

2015 ‘Miracles’ (pp.161-166), ‘Reincarnation’ (pp.254-256), ‘Survival After Death’ (pp.312-318). In Matt Cardin (ed.) Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio.

2014 “Believing Impossible Things: Scepticism and Scientific Enquiry’. In Jack Hunter and David Luke (eds) Talking with the Spirits: Ethnographies from between the Worlds., Brisbane, Australia: Daily Grail Publishing, pp.19-56.

2013 ‘Building Bridges, Dissolving Boundaries: Towards a Methodology for the Ethnographic Study of the Afterlife, Mediumship and Spiritual Beings’. J Am Acad Relig (2013) 81 (3): 698-733 first published online August 2, 2013.

2013  ‘History of Cross Country Adoption and Fostering’, Oxford Bibliographies in Childhood Studies. OUP.

2012 ‘Devising Methods for the Ethnographic Study of the Afterlife: Cognition, Empathy and Engagement’. In Jack Hunter (ed.) Paranthropology. Bristol: Paranthropology (pp.99-106).

2011 ‘Miracle in Traditional Religion’  in Graham Twelftree (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Miracles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (pp.122-137).

2009  'Anthropology of Religion', Chapter 1 in The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion ed. Robert Segal, Oxford & Malden, MA: Blackwell.

2009  'The challenge of multi-sited ethnography' and 'Azi since Conrau' (with Michael Ndobegang) in Ian Fowler and Verkijika G. Fanso (eds.) Encounter, Transformation, and Identity: Peoples of the Western Cameroon Borderlands, 1891-2000, Oxford & New York: Berghahn.

Invited talks 2014-22

17th-18th June 2022. Roundtable discussion for workshop Moving and Being Moved: Healing, Conversion, and Transnationalism, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford and Marie Skłodowska-Curie THE TRANCE HEAL Network for the Ethnography of Healing.

Western Esotericism and the Search for Divinity Within. University of Paris Nanterre, 24th May 2022

SIEF2021 Breaking the Rules: Power, Participation, Transgression
University of Helsinki (online) Thursday 24 June 2021
Panel: The human-animal divide: contesting knowledge production and practices. Paper title: ‘Chickens: engaging personally with the politics of industrialised production’.

Witchcraft and Moral Harassment Workshop: Forms of Insidious Violence
University of Paris, April 14 & 15 2021 (online). Invited workshop.
The Role of Intention in Witchcraft and Moral Harassment’.

Transnational Religious Networks: Alternative Articulations and New Methodologies.
Asian Research Institute, National University of Singapore (online) 3-5 March 2021
Keynote lecture: ‘Transnational Religious Communities: Methodological Challenges in the Study of a Modern Ecclesial Community, The Focolare Movement’.

International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC)
Religion/Water/Climate: Changing Cultures and Landscapes
13-16 June 2019, University College Cork, Ireland. Panel organizer: Anthropological Understandings of Religion, Environment and Climate Change in the UK.
Paper title: ‘Hafren/Severn: From River Goddess to Ecological Threat’.

South East University Nanjing, P.R. China. Conference title: ‘International Dialogue: How do we live together in the Internet Age’ May 18, 2019. Invited speaker. ‘Intercultural Dialogue and the Construction of Spiritual Community in the Internet Era: An Anthropological Perspective’.

Social Anthropologies of the Welsh: Past and Present. A joint symposium organized by the Learned Society of Wales and RAI, 2 May 2019, Cardiff University. Invited speaker: ‘Anthropological Perspectives on Religious Belief in Wales’.

Skill and Scale in Transnational Mediumship II:  Workshop, University of Cologne Institute of Advanced Studies, Part II. 13/14 December 2018. ‘Voices, possession and healing: Spirit release therapists and their clients’.

The Sophia Centre Alumni Lectures 2018: Explorations in Ontological Anthropology: Exploring Place, Presence and Power. Online subscription lectures (Zoom):

  1. 31.10.18, A Transpersonal Anthropology: Locating the Boundaries.
  2. 7.11.18, The Power of Place.
  3. 14.11.18, Inclined Planes - Traversing the Different Forms of Space and Being.

The Futures of Magic. Symposium, The Open University and SOAS. Held at SOAS, London, 29.6.2018. Invited speaker: ‘The Dialogue between experience and interpretation: Paradigm shifts at the junction of science and the occult.’

The Open University, Milton Keynes. Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective: Publics and Performances, February 19-21, 2018. Session on Interfaith. ‘Interfaith and Intercultural Spirituality in a Faith-Based Organisation’.

Espiritual medias and transnational mediumship: on skills and scale of new communities of practice. Invited symposium, University of Cologne Institute of Advanced Studies, September 25-26, 2017.
Paper on ‘Spirit Release Therapies: Healing Networks and Mediumistic Practices in Contemporary Britain’.

Wild or Domesticated: Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Helsinki, 20-22 September 2016. Convenor of workshop panel: Discernment: Recognising the Presence of Spirits. Paper entitled ‘Spirit Release as Therapy: An Alternative Western Tradition’.

IUAES 2016, Dubrovnik 4-9.5.16 Keynote talk in panel on ‘The ontological turn – new ethnographic approaches, theories and analysis of spirit mediumship, shamanism, religious ritual and discarnate phenomena’ convened by Fabian Graham. Paper title: ‘Ontology and the Other: Reconfiguring Anthropology for the Anthropocene’.

Exploring the Extraordinary, 4-6 December 2015, York University. Invited lecture on ‘The Psychic Self’.

Immortality and Human Finitude: Life after Death? Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, Anthropology and Literature. Public Symposium funded by the Templeton Foundation, University of Leeds 20.3.15. ‘Experiential Themes in Afterlife Narratives’.

Sophia Centre Lecture, Trinity St David University, WebX lecture, 12.2.15. ‘Transformational Encounters with Non-Ordinary Realities’.

British Association for the Study of Religion Postgraduate and Early Career Workshop, 8.1.15. ‘The Ethics of Representation’ Goldsmiths College, London

King’s College London Graduate Research Day, 26.11.14
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
Research Day for Theology and Ministry students.
Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research on Religion’.

Scientific and Medical Network Conference, Frontiers of Science and Spirituality: The SCM Approach to Holistic Education. ‘The Role of Experience in the Origin and Development of Religion’. 1.11.2014, Imperial College, London.

British Association for the Study of Religion, Milton Keynes, 3-5 September 2014
Presentation for round table discussion on Insider and Outsider Approaches to Faith Communities: ‘Engaging with Others or with “The Other” in Social Research’.
Key note address on panel Research among spirits, ghosts and deities – How to study non-ordinary realities, organised by Bettina Schmidt and David Wilson.
Transformational Encounters with Non-Ordinary Realities’.

The Study of Religious Experience in Lampeter. Alister Hardy Research Centre, 4th July 2014. Key note address.
How to Study Religious Experience: Methodological reflections on the study of the afterlife.’

King’s College London/LSE Seminar, panel member
(Re)turning to the wonder of non-dualism: Theology and anthropology in conversation about biblical, non-western, and scientific cosmologies
15th May 2014, Virginia Woolf Building (22 Kingsway), 3.01
Convenor: Prof. Oliver Davies, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London
Ontology, Experience and the Anthropology of Religion

Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred: Open Lecture. Canterbury Christ Church 7th June 2014.
Ethnographic Approaches to the Afterlife’.

Unitarian General Assembly, Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire
14th April 2014. Guest speaker.
The Origins of Religion and Experience of the Paranormal

Arthur Findlay College, Spiritualists' National Union Science Week
11th February 2014. Special guest speaker.
Towards and Anthropology of the Afterlife