Dr Fiona Bowie  BA, PGCE, D.Phil



E-mail: fiona.bowie@uwtsd.ac.uk

I am a Tutor on the  Researching Contemporary Cosmologies module in the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, specialising in research methods. I also teach on the Sacred Geography module and supervise MA dissertations.

I read Anthropology at Durham University and was awarded a D.Phil in Social Anthropology by Oxford University for a study of Christian missions in Cameroon, West Africa, and have a PGCE in Religious Studies from the University of Wales.

I have held teaching positions at the Open University, the University of Wales (Bangor and Lampeter), and Bristol University, with visiting positions at the University of Linkoping in Sweden and University of Virginia in the USA.

I was instrumental in establishing Anthropology at the University of Wales, Lampeter (now the University of Wales Trinity St David) in 1995, and at Bristol University (in 2002).

I am currently a Senior Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London. In 2010 I founded the Afterlife Research Centre, a network of scholars interested in the ethnographic study of the afterlife, Mediumship and related phenomena.

  • Afterlife Research Centre, Founder
  • Royal Anthropological Institute, Honorary Treasurer
  • The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES)
  • British Association for the Study of Religions
  • The Scientific and Medical Network
  • Society for Psychical Research

My academic interests include: the Anthropology of Religion with special interests in mediumship, spirit possession, and the afterlife; qualitative research methods; kinship, gender, identity, adoption and child circulation; West African traditional religions, Christianity and missions; the African diaspora.  Currently supervising PhD students at Bristol University, King’s College London and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.

My initial research for my DPhil was on Christian Missions in Cameroon looking at the relationship between the Focolare Movement and the Bangwa people. I have continued to study both the Focolare and the Bangwa, particularly in the Diaspora. My second piece of fieldwork was on Welsh learners in North Wales, looking at issues of nationality, language and identity.

I have  also researched and written on adoption and child circulation, kinship and notions of family. Most recently I have focused on the Afterlife, Mediumship, Spirit Possession and ways of researching these issues using ethnographic methods, both in Western and comparative contexts.

I am currently supervising PhD students at Bristol University, King’s College London and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.

Peer review and examining. I am a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 4 programme Beyond Belief. TV appearances include a panel discussion on identity on BBC Wales/Cymru, and programmes on Welshness and pilgrimage for S4C. 

My External Examining includes Oxford University, Cambridge University, UCL, SOAS, King’s College London, Bristol University, St Andrew’s University, Bradford University, University of Stirling, University of Kent, Canterbury, Leeds University. I was a European Research Council SH5 panel member in 2016.

I am currently Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Anthropological Institute and I am on the editorial board of Fieldwork in Religion, The Journal for the Study of Religions, and Parathropology. I am a Panel member and reviewer for European Research Council awards, a Peer Reviewer for a number of national research councils, including the Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway and a Peer Reviewer for academic publishers including Oxford University Press, Routledge, Princeton University Press (and many others).

2016 ‘Negotiating Blurred Boundaries: Ethnographic and Methodological Considerations’. In George Chryssides and Stephen Gregg (eds) The Insider/Outsider Debate in the Study of Religion. Equinox.

2016 ‘How to Study Religious Experience: Methodological Reflections on the Study of the Paranormal’. In Bettina Schmidt (ed.) The Study of Religious Experience. 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 Ethnographic Enquiry’. In Jack Hunter & David Luke (eds.) Talking with Spirits: Ethnographies from Between the Worlds. Daily Grail: London (pp.1-19).

2013 ‘Anthropology and the Paranormal: Report on a Symposium at the Esalen Institute’. Paranthropology 4(4) pp.47-50. 

2013 ‘Building Bridges, Dissolving Boundaries: Towards a Methodology for the Ethnographic Study of the Afterlife, Mediumship and Spiritual Beings’.  Journal of the American Academy of Religion 81(3) 698-733. Online version, doi: 10.1093/jaarel/lft023JAAR

2013 ‘History of Cross Country Adoption and Fostering’, Oxford Bibliographies in Childhood Studies. Edited by Heather Montgomery. New York: Oxford University Press, 29 October 2013, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com

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 Tales from the Afterlife, Winchester, UK & Washington, USA: O-Books .

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' in Ian Fowler and Verkijika G. Fanso (eds.) Encounter, Transformation, and Identity: Peoples of the Western Cameroon Borderlands, 1891-2000, Oxford & New York: Berghahn.

2009,  '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.

2008  'Anthropology of Religion' Religion Compass, Vol.2: 5, pp.826-874. 

2006  The Anthropology of Religion, Oxford & Malden, MA.: Blackwell.

Revised and expanded edition of The Anthropology of Religion 2000.

2004  Cross-Cultural Approaches to Adoption (ed.) & Ch.1, 'Adoption and the circulation of children: A comparative perspective'. London & New York: Routledge (European Association of Social Anthropologists).

2003 ‘An anthropology of religious experience: spirituality, gender and cultural transmission in the Focolare movement’, Ethnos, Volume 68, Number 1, March 2003, (pp. 49-72).

2000 ‘Witchcraft and healing among the Bangwa of Cameroon’, in Graham Harvey (ed.) Indigenous Religions: A Companion. London & New York: Cassell, 2000 (pp.68-79).

Rreviews for: Religion (2008), American Ethnologist (2007), Anthropos

(2006), Anthropological Quarterly (2005), Current Anthropology (2004).

Dictionary entries include contributions to: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (OUP), The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (OUP), Contemporary Religions: A World Guide (Longman), Longman Guide to Living Religions (Longman).

Invited talks 2014-16

Arthur Findlay College, Spiritualists' National Union Science Week

11th February 2014. Special guest speaker.

‘Towards and Anthropology of the Afterlife’ 

Unitarian General Assembly, Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire

14th April 2014. Guest speaker.

‘The Origins of Religion and Experience of the Paranormal’

Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred: Open Lecture. Canterbury Christ Church

7th June 2014.

‘Ethnographic Approaches to 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’

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.’

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’

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.

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’. 

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

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

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’.

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’.