SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES (2010)
Keith Beasley graduated from Bangor Univerisity (then UCNW) in Electronic Engineering in 1979. In 1987 he took a ‘leap of faith’ and became a teacher of Reiki Healing. Following another leap of faith to run retreats in Portugal (2003-8), he is now back in Bangor undertaking his PhD in ‘Transcending Thought’
Dr Fiona Bowie has a DPhil in Anthropology from the University of Oxford, and now teaches anthropology at the University of Bristol. She is the author of several notable publications, including The Anthropology of Religion: An Introduction. Her latest book, Tales From the Afterlife, will be published next year. Her research interests include ethnographic approaches to the study of religious experiences, and she directs the recently established Afterlife Research Centre, which focuses on ethnographic and anthropological approaches to studies of the afterlife
Dr David Clarke is a course leader and senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, where he teaches media law and investigative skills. He previously worked as a journalist for The Sheffield Star and Yorkshire Post, and spent four years working as a Press Officer in local government. He has a PhD in Folklore from the University of Sheffield, and several publications concerning supernatural belief and folklore. Recently, he has been working for the National Archives as a consultant for their release of the UFO files created by the Ministry for Defence. His most recent book, The UFO Files, was published by TNA last year.
Ann Davies is now a retried Head of Art from Secondary and Tertiary education. She is a practising artist as well as a spirit artist, and is the founder of the Spirit Arts Society. Over the past twenty years, she has worked worldwide demonstrating spirit art to others, and has hundreds of evidential portraits in many countries. She is currently studying for a PhD at the University of Aberystwyth on ‘Phenomenological Art’.
René Gründer studied sociology, historical anthropology and philosophy at the University of Freiburg. Since 2005, he has been a postgraduate student at the IGPP, and since 2006 has worked as a research associate of the DFG-(German Research Foundation) funded research project ‘Social construction of the ‘Germanic’ within contemporary Heathenism’ at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Freiburg. His research interests cover the sociology of alternative religions, especially questions of ritual dynamics and the iconology of neopagan movements.
Dr Jenny Hallam is a lecturer at the University of Derby. Her research interests centre on the use of critical qualitative methods in areas such as developmental psychology and spirituality. More recently, she has started work investigating the development of paranormal belief in children.
Alice Herron was a member of a Hindu-based New Religious Movement for twenty-seven years, from 1974 – 2002. After leaving the organisation, she returned to higher education. In 2008 she was awarded an MA in Psychology of Religion from Heythrop College, University of London, achieving a distinction for her research dissertation entitled ‘Psychological Factors in the Emergence of New Religious Movements.’ She is currently an independent researcher, writing a psychological account of her experiences as a member of a NRM. She intends to resume her academic research in this area as a candidate for a PhD.
Jack Hunter has a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from the University of Bristol. His undergraduate dissertation took the form of an experiential investigation into contemporary trance and physical mediumship at a private home-circle in Bristol. After a number of peculiar experiences during his research, Jack concluded that spirit beliefs are best understood by examining their experiential foundations, and that these are best accessed through the methods of anthropology and ethnography. Since receiving his degree, Jack has studied on the MA in Religious Experience at the University of Lampeter, published several papers based on his research findings, and established Paranthropology, a free web-based newsletter. He is currently co-editing a volume on mediumship with David Luke. Recently, Jack was awarded the Eileen J Garrett scholarship by the Parapsychological Foundation, which will be used to fund a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Bristol. His PhD will examine the role of anomalous experiences in contemporary Spiritualism.
Dr David Luke is President of the Parapsychological Association, the professional body for researchers in the field of parapsychology, and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich where he teaches an undergraduate course on the Psychology of Exceptional Human Experiences. As a writer and researcher he has a special interest in altered states of consciousness and he has studied ostensibly paranormal phenomena and techniques of consciousness alteration from South America to India, from the perspective of scientists, shamans and Shivaites. He lives life on the edge, of Hackney, London.
Michele Knight is currently completing her PhD in Social Work at the University of Sydney. She has been researching bereavement and grief, with a focus on sense of presence experiences reported by the bereaved. She is also studying to become a chaplain, with an emphasis on pastoral care in a hospital setting.
Dr Paul Marshall is an independent researcher with interests in the philosophy and psychology of religion, the philosophy of mind, and the study of science and religion. His publications include Mystical Encounters with the Natural World (2005).
Dr Yves Marton received an MA in Ethnology of Dance and a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He studied for over twenty years with Cuban and Brazilian spirit mediums and followers of African Diaspora religions, as well as Spiritism in Umbanda. He has also conducted research at a Spiritualist Healing Centre in 1990. His PhD research was conducted with Brazilian and Cuban immigrants in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro. During his research in Rio de Janeiro, he found that paranormal research and phenomena were both abundant in contemporary Brazil and that there was a general access to such research for the local public. He has also conducted research on the impact of Carlos Castaneda’s legacy in anthropology, and published a chapter on this in the edited volume Being Changed by Cross Cultural Encounters: The Anthropology of Extraordinary Experiences. Currently, he is studying the intersection between traditional religions, parapsychological knowledge, esoteric science and new age concepts of a spirituality of convenience and subjectivity.
Dr Gerhard Mayer studied psychology, sociology and philosophy at the University of Freiburg. Since 1996 he has been working a scientific collaborator at the Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene e.V. in Freiburg/Germany. His research interests concern questions of cultural studies relating to the frontier areas of psychology, anomalies, media research, (neo-) shamanism, magical practises and beliefs.
Sarah Metcalfe has a First Class BA (Hons) in Sociology, and an MA in Social Research from the University of York. She is currently in the second year of her PhD, which explores the emotional labour, relational dynamics and ethics of psychic and mediumship work and practices. Her interests include sociological approaches to extraordinary phenomena, emotion theory and interaction, feminist concepts, gender and identity and reflexivity. She is a member of the Anomalous Experiences Research Unit.
Dr Mary Murray is currently Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Massey University, New Zealand. Her research and teaching interests include dying and death, emotion and culture, and animals and society. Mary's recent publications have been at the interface of these three areas. She is currently completing a book about grief and bereavement.
Josefine Speyer is a psychotherapist, in private practice in London and a supervisor for a bereavement service. She was a co-founder of the Natural Death Centre and the Befriending Network and a co-editor of the fourth edition of the Natural Death Handbook (Rider, 2003). She has a special interest in psycho-spiritual transformation and in psychic phenomena, particularly in relation to dying and bereavement.
Candice Sunney recently completed a BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology at the University of Derby. Her research used the synthesis approach to discourse analysis, to explore the construction of spiritual identity, spirituality and religion. Her research interests include exploring people’s experiences of spirituality and religion, across mainstream religions and subgroups, and she has a particular interest in different group constructions and constructed practices and beliefs.