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Prof Geoffrey Samuel 

Research Interests

My research extends over a number of interrelated areas within religious studies, social anthropology, comparative sociology, and cognate disciplines. Theoretically, my interests centre around an understanding of cultural processes and their effects on human behaviour, in terms which recognise the embodied character of human existence and which give proper weight to both human consciousness and biology. I am particularly interested in religion (including ‘shamanism’) in relation to healing, gender and ecology, including the ways in which these issues manifest in contemporary societies.

My main ethnographic focus has been on religion in Tibetan societies. My work on Tibetan religion has also extended into the social history of Indic religions more generally. Other research topics include Tibetan medicine and health practices, the anthropology of music, research on Buddhism and other new religious movements (paganism, shamanism, esotericism) in the UK and Australia, and research into Islam in the UK and Bangladesh. I have carried out extensive field research over many years in India, Nepal, Tibet, and other Asian and Western societies.

My main current research, organised through the Research Group on the Body, Health and Religion (BAHAR), based at Cardiff University, centres about the understanding of healing processes in a variety of contexts: folk healing practices in Asian societies, ‘traditional’ Asian medical and yogic practices aimed at healing, and Western adaptations and developments of such practices within the field of complementary and alternative medicine. A major AHRC-funded project on Tibetan longevity practices (with Cathy Cantwell and Rob Mayer) ended in September 2009; several publications from this project have appeared or are in press. I am currently directing a Leverhulme Trust-funded project on Tibetan medicine in the Bon tradition (with Colin Millard). I am also involved in an ESRC-funded project on young Bangladeshis, marriage and the family in Bangladesh and the UK (directed by Santi Rozario), and in a British Academy-funded project on contemporary ritual in Bhutan.

For further information on BAHAR see the main BAHAR website ( and the BAHAR blog (


Jan 1971-1972 Nepal and North India

Aug-Sep 1973 North India

Dec 1978 Nepal and North India

Dec 1984-Jan 1985 West Java

Jul-Aug 1987 Nepal and Central Tibet

Jun-Sep 1989 Thailand, India and Nepal

Jan 1990, Jul-Sep 1990 India (Tibetans)

Aug 1991 Nepal, Central and Eastern Tibet

Dec 1991-Jan 1992, Aug 1992 India

Dec 1993-Jan 1994 Bangladesh and Nepal

Jul-Aug 1996 North India (Tibetans)

Dec 1997-Jan 1998 South India and Sri Lanka

Jan-Feb 2003 Bangladesh

Jan 2006 Nepal (Tibetans)

Dec 2006-Jan 2007 Northeast India (Tibetans) and Bangladesh

Jan 2008, Dec 2008-Jan 2009 Bangladesh

Feb-Mar 2009 Northeast India (Tibetans)

Jan. 2010 Bangladesh

July 2010 Northeastern Tibet

Dec 2011 to Jan 2012. Bhutan