Marion Irene Bowman

Image of Marion Irene Bowman
Norwegian version of this page
Mobile phone +447974979642
Visiting address Niels Henrik Abels vei 36 P. A. Munchs hus 0371 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1010 Blindern 0315 OSLO

 Academic interests

Working at the interstices of religious studies and folklore/ ethnology, my research interests are rooted in contemporary vernacular religion - religion as it is lived; the experiences, worldviews, beliefs, practices and material culture of individuals and groups in in specific locations and contexts. I have championed the study of both vernacular religion and material religion within UK Religious Studies.

My research has tended to be fieldwork-based, with people inside, on the margins of and outside institutional religion, and my research interests include: Protestant and non-traditional pilgrimage; material religion; spiritual economies; religion in public and private domains; airport chapels; the creation, adaptation and revival of myth, ritual and tradition in contemporary religiosity; religion and healing; new expressions of mourning and memorialisation; religion in Newfoundland. I have conducted long term research in Glastonbury, a significant pilgrimage destination and microcosm of contemporary spirituality and vernacular religiosity.

Courses taught


Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of Glamorgan, 1998

M.A. Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, 1985

B.A. with Honours, Religious Studies with Anthropology, University of Lancaster, 1976


  • I am a Senior Lecturer in the Religious Studies department at The Open University, UK. I moved there in 2000 after working for ten years in the Study of Religions department at Bath Spa University.
  • I worked previously as an archivist in Canada, the UK and Bahrain, and also taught English for Academic Purposes while living in Bahrain and Hong Kong.

Positions held

European Association for the Study of Religions - Vice-President, 2013 –

British Association for the Study of Religions – President (2006 - 2009);

Executive Committee Member/ Conference Organiser (2001-06)

The Folklore Society – President, 2002- 2005; Vice-President, 2005 – 2011); Director, 2002- 2016; Executive Board, 2016 -  

SIEF (Societe Internationale d’Ethnologie et de Folklore), Working Group on Ethnology of Religion – Executive Board member, 2010 -

Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Theology and Religious Studies Subject Undergraduate Benchmarking Group - Chair 2013-14

TRS UK (Theology and Religious Studies UK; formerly AUDTRS: Association of University Departments of Theology and Religious Studies) – Board member AUDTRS 2009-2013, TRS UK 2013 –


Co-I, Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, Past and Present, 2014-17:

Post-secular culture and a changing religious landscape in Finland project, Abo Akademi, Finland - International Scientific Advisory Board Member, 2010- 2015

Religion, Martyrdom and Global Uncertainties - Advisory Group 2013-2014.

Spirited Stoke: Spiritualism in the Everyday Life of Stoke-on-Trent (SpELS) - Advisory Group, 2014-2016.







Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief. (New York & London: Routledge 2012), co-edited with Ulo Valk.

'The Contented Collector: Materiality, Relationality and the Power of Things’ Material Religion volume 12, issue 3, pp. 393–397

‘Crisis, Change and “the Continuous Art of Individual Interpretation and Negotiation”: The Aftermath of Clerical Sexual Abuse in Newfoundland’ The Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions, Vol 3, 2016, pp. 140-170

‘Railways, Rivalry and the Revival of Pilgrimage in Glastonbury, 1895 and 1897’ in Gábor Barna with Orsolya  Gyöngyössy,eds, Religion, Culture, Society: Yearbook of the MTA-SZTE Research Group for the Study of Religious Culture  (MTA-SZTE Research Group for the Study of Religious Culture, University of Szeged and Devotio Hungarorum Foundation (Szeged) 2015), pp.168-190

‘”He’s My Best Friend” Relationality, Materiality, and the Manipulation of Motherhood in Devotion to St Gerard Majella in Newfoundland’ in Terry Woo & Becky Lee, eds. Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2016), 3-34.

‘Christianity, Plurality and Vernacular Religion in early Twentieth Century Glastonbury: A Sign of Things to Come?’  in Christianity and Religious Plurality Studies in Church History 51 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2015), 302-321.

‘“Helping Glastonbury to Come into Its Own”: Practical Spirituality, Materiality, and Community Cohesion in Glastonbury’ in  Practical Spiritualities in a Media Age, edited by Curtis C Coats and Monica M Emerich  (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), 51-65.

‘Vernacular Religion, Contemporary Spirituality and Emergent Identities: Lessons from Lauri Honko’. Approaching Religion, 4, 2014.

‘Vernacular/ Lived Religion’ in The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements, George D. Chryssides and Benjamin E. Zeller, eds.(London, New Delhi, etc: Bloomsbury. 2014), 253-269.

Bowman, M. and Valk, Ü. eds. Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life:  Expressions of Belief. (New York and London: Routledge 2012). 

‘Valuing Spirituality: Commodification, Consumption and Community in Glastonbury’ in Religion in Consumer Society: brands, consumers and markets, Francois Gauthier and Tuomas Martikainen, eds. (Farnham and Burlington, VA: Ashgate. 2013), 207-224.

‘Understanding Glastonbury as a Site of Consumption’ in Gordon Lynch, Jolyon Mitchell, Anna Strhan (eds.), Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. (London: Routledge. 2011), 11-22.

‘From Glastonbury to Hungary: Contemporary Integrative Spirituality and Vernacular Religion in Context’ in Passageways. From Hungarian Ethnography to European Ethnology and Sociocultural Anthropology. Gábor Vargyas, ed. (Department of European Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, The University of Pécs - L’Harmattan Publishing House, Budapest, 2009), 195-221.

'Going with the Flow: Contemporary Pilgrimage in Glastonbury' in Shrines and Pilgrimage in the Modern World: New Itineraries into the Sacred Peter Jan Margy, ed. (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2008), 241-280

"Å følge strømmen. Moderne pilegrimsferd I Glastonbury" in Religiøse reiser. Mellom gamle spor og nye mål (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget 2007), 53-62. [Festschrift for Lisbeth Mikaelsson; article translated into Norwegian.]

‘Healing in the Spiritual Marketplace: Consumers, Courses and Credentialism’ (2004) reprinted in James R. Lewis, ed The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of New Age Religions, (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books), 339-348

‘Phenomenology, fieldwork and folk religion’ reprinted (with newly written Afterword) (2004) in Steven Sutcliffe, ed Religion: Empirical Studies (Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate), 3-18.

Bowman, M and Sutcliffe, S. eds (2000) Beyond New Age: Exploring Alternative Spirituality (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)



Published Oct. 13, 2016 10:02 AM - Last modified Nov. 23, 2017 12:40 PM