I joined the Religious Studies department at The Open University in 2000, and was Head of Department 2010-2013. Before the OU, I worked for ten years in the Study of Religions department at Bath Spa University. (I had worked previously as an archivist in Canada, UK and Bahrain, and also taught English for Academic Purposes while living in Bahrain and Hong Kong.)
I was Co-Investigator on the AHRC funded project Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, Past and Present, 2014-2018. (See http://www.pilgrimageandcathedrals.ac.uk/about )
I am currently a Guest Researcher at the University of Oslo, Norway, in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, having worked as Professor II there from October 2016 until September 2018. I have had the pleasure of working as a visiting lecturer/ professor also at the University of Tartu, Estonia; University of Bayreuth, Germany; University of Pecs, Hungary; Abo Akademi, Turku, Finland; and University of Bergen, Norway.
I am Vice-President of the European Association for the Study of Religions and former president of both the British Association for the Study of Religions and of The Folklore Society. I served on the Executive Board of the Working Group on Ethnology of Religion of SIEF (Société Internationale d'Ethnologie et de Folklore) 2010-2016.
I chaired the review group for the QAA subject benchmark statement for theology and religious studies, and am Vice-President of Theology and Religious Studies UK.
As an undergraduate, I started by studying Archaeology, Medieval History and Drama at the University of Glasgow, but in my second year took Principles of Religion. I became totally hooked on the study of religions, and transferred to Lancaster University to specialise in Religious Studies! A studentship enabled me to spend two years at Memorial University of Newfoundland studying for the MA in Folklore.
Working at the interstices of religious studies and folklore/ ethnology, my research interests are very much rooted in contemporary vernacular religion - the experiences, worldviews, beliefs, practices and material culture of individuals and groups in in specific locations and contexts. The extent to which vernacular religion is conceptually valuable was demonstrated by the range of chapters in and positive response to Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief. (New York & London: Routledge 2012), co-edited with Ulo Valk.
My research has tended to be fieldwork-based, with people within, on the margins of and outside institutional religion, and my research interests include: non-traditional pilgrimage, including the growth of 'Caminoised' pilgrimage in northern Europe; material religion; spiritual economies; religion in public and private domains; airport chapels; 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.
European Association for the Study of Religions - Vice-President, 2013 -
British Association for the Study of Religions – President (2006-2009); Conference Organiser, 2001-06.
The Folklore Society – President, 2002- 2005; Vice-President, 2005 - 2011.
SIEF (Société Internationale d'Ethnologie et de Folklore); member of the Executive Board of the SIEF Working Group on Ethnology of Religion (2010 - 2016 ); SIEF Working Group on The Ritual Year; SIEF Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Property.
Theology and Religious Studies UK - formerly The Association of University Departments of Theology and Religious Studies (AUDTRS). Vice-President, 2017 - ; Committee Member AUDTRS, 2009-2013; TRS UK, 2013 - 2017.
British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Study Group http://socrel.org.uk/
Life Member, Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society http://www.crmsociety.com/
Bowman, M. and Valk, Ü. eds. Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief. (New York & London: Routledge 2012).
Bowman, M. and Sepp, T. ‘Caminoisation and Cathedrals: replication, the heritagisation of religion, and the spiritualisation of heritage’ lead author with Tiina Sepp, Religion (published online: 04 Oct 2018; https://doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2018.1515325 )
Coleman, S. and Bowman, M. ‘Religion in cathedrals: pilgrimage, heritage, adjacency, and the politics of replication in Northern Europe’, Introduction to co-edited, themed issue of Religion ( published online: 16 Nov 2018; https://doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2018.1515341 )
Bowman, M. with Simon Coleman, John Jenkins and Tiina Sepp ‘Visibly different: Continuity and change at Westminster Cathedral’, in David Goodhew and Anthony-Paul Cooper, eds. The Desecularisation of the City: London’s Churches, 1980 to the Present (London and New York, 2019), 300-327.
'The Contented Collector: Materiality, Relationality and the Power of Things’ Material Religion volume 12, issue 3, 2016, 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 (https://jisasr.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/crisis-change-and-e28098the-continuous-art-of-individual-interpretation-and-negotiation_-the-aftermath-of-clerical-sexual-abuse-in-newfoundland-pdf1.pdf )
‘”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. <http://ojs.abo.fi/index.php/ar/article/view/783/835>.
‘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), pp. 253-269.
‘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), pp. 207-224.
‘Raising the Dead: Revisiting Letters to Diana’ Acta Ethnographica Hungarica. 2013, 58 (1): 221-228.
‘From sanctity to celebrity? Relics in contemporary contexts’, in Tremlett, P.-F. (ed.) Afterlives (A151 Book 3) Milton Keynes: The Open University, 2012, pp.1-54.
‘Folklore, Religion and Contemporary Spirituality’ Introduction to Virtual Special Issue of Folkore, Folklore, Religion and Contemporary Spirituality 2011.
‘Understanding Glastonbury as a Site of Consumption’ in Gordon Lynch, Jolyon Mitchell, Anna Strhan (eds.), Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. (London: Routledge. 2011), pp.11-22
'Learning from experience: The value of analysing Avalon. Religion, 2009 39(2), pp. 161–168.
‘Glastonbury festival and the performance of remembrance’. DISKUS, 10.
‘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. pp.195-221
‘Glastonburytől Magyarországig. Kortárs integratív spiritualitás és vernakuláris vallás’ in Átjárók. A magyar néprajztól az európai etnológiáig és a kulturális antropológiáig. Szerkesztette) Vargyas Gábor. L'Harmattan - Pécsi Tudományegyetem Néprajz - Kulturális Antropológia Tanszék, 2009 pp. 181-208.
‘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, pp. 241-280.
Arthur and Bridget in Avalon: Celtic Myth, Vernacular Religion and Contemporary Spirituality in Glastonbury Fabula, Journal of Folktale Studies, 48 (1/2) 2007: 1-17
‘A tale of two Celticities: sacred springs, legendary landscape and Celtic revival in Bath’ Australian Religious Studies Review, Special Issue on "Tradition as a Resource: Invention, Innovation, Inheritance", ed. Michael Hill, 20 (1), 2007: 95-117
‘The Holy Thorn Ceremony: Revival, Rivalry and Civil Religion in Glastonbury’ in Folklore 117, Issue 2, 2006:123-140 Read this online or download in PDF format.
‘Ancient Avalon, New Jerusalem, Heart Chakra of Planet Earth: Localisation and Globalisation in Glastonbury’ Numen, 52:2, 2005:157-190
‘Taking Stories Seriously: Vernacular Religion, Contemporary Spirituality and the Myth of Jesus in Glastonbury’ Temenos, 39-40, 2003-2004:125-142
‘Healing in the Spiritual Marketplace: Consumers, Courses and Credentialism’ reprinted in The Encyclopedic Sourcebook of New Age Religions, James R. Lewis, ed (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2004), 339-348
‘Phenomenology, fieldwork and folk religion’ reprinted (with newly written Afterword) in Religion: Empirical Studies, Steven Sutcliffe, ed. (Aldershot: Ashgate 2004), 3-18
‘Procession and Possession in Glastonbury: Continuity, Change and the Manipulation of Tradition’ Folklore (2004) 115:3, 1-13
‘Vernacular Religion and Nature: The “Bible of the Folk” Tradition in Newfoundland’ Folklore 114:3 (2003), 285-295
‘From Keltoi to cybercelts: continuity and change in Celtic identities’ in Globalization and Europe, Mark Pittaway, ed. (Milton Keynes: The Open University, 2003),107-165
‘Contemporary Celtic spirituality’ in Belief Beyond Boundaries, Jo Pearson, ed. (Aldershot & Milton Keynes: Ashgate & The Open University: 2002), 55-101
‘The People’s Princess: Religion and Politics in the Mourning for Diana,’ in Politics and Folk Religion, Gabor Barna, ed. (Szeged, Hungary: Department of Ethnology, University of Szeged, 2001)
‘Introduction’ (with Steven Sutcliffe) and ‘More of the same?: Christianity, Vernacular Religion and Alternative Spirituality in Glastonbury,’ in Beyond New Age: Exploring Alternative Spirituality, co-edited with Steven Sutcliffe (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000),1-13; 83-104
‘Introduction’ and ‘The Need for Healing: A Bath Case Study’ in Healing and Religion, Marion Bowman, ed. (Middlesex: Hisarlik Press, 2000), ix-xii and 95-107
Pagan Identities, Special Issue of DISKUS, co-edited with Graham Harvey, DISKUS 6, 2000 (electronic journal)
‘Nature, the Natural and Pagan Pluralism,’ DISKUS 6, 2000
See also Open Research Online for further details of Marion Bowman’s research publications.
Since joining The Open University I have contributed to the production and presentation of AA100 The Arts Past and Present, A151 Making sense of things: an introduction to material culture, A217 Introducing Religion, AD317 Religion Today: Tradition, Modernity and Change, AA300 Europe: Culture and Identities in a Contested Continent, AD281 Understanding Global Heritage, and A332 Why is Religion Controversial? I produced units entitled ‘Pilgrimage: Routes with Roots'‘ and ‘What does religion sound like?’ for A227, Exploring religion: places, practices, texts and experiences, and I am working on a Material Christianity unit for A111 Discovering the Arts and Humanities.
My research interests in Glastonbury, vernacular religion, material religion, airport chapels, Celtic spirituality, methodology, religion in Newfoundland and pilgrimage have been reflected in many of these units.
I co-chaired the MA Religious Studies in production, and for the duration of the MA presentation.
I currently co-supervise 3 PhD students at The Open Univeristy, and have seen 11 PhD candidates through to successful completion. I have been external examiner for 28 PhD theses at universities in the UK, USA, Ireland, Australia, Estonia and Germany.
2016-2018: University of Oslo, Norway. Professor II (20%), Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages.
2010 -2015 - International Scientific Advisory Board Member, Post-secular culture and a changing religious landscape in Finland project, Abo Akademi, Finland
2014: University of Tartu, Estonia. Visiting Professor, Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore.
2009: University of Bayreuth, Germany. William James Visiting Professor, Study of Religion.
2007: University of Pecs, Hungary, Guest lecturer, Department of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology, (Marie Curie Host Fellowship for the Transfer of Knowledge).
2006: Abo Akademi, Turku, Finland, Visiting Lecturer on Contemporary Spirituality, Religious Studies. 2002, 1997: University of Bergen, Norway, Visiting Lecturer, "Magic, Myth and Miracle" Research Project, Departments of Folklore and Religious Studies.
|Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|
|Cross-Cultural Identities Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|
|Heritage Studies Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|
|Material Cultures Research Group||Group||Faculty of Arts|