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Anna King is Professor of Religious Studies and Social Anthropology and Director of Postgraduate Research in the University’s high-impact Centre for Religion, Reconciliation and PeaceHer recent research focuses on how religious beliefs and practices have the potential to drive social and political change globally, and their role in peace and conflict. She is interested in the contribution that the study of religion and social anthropology can make to peacebuilding, mediation and reconciliation by understanding religious traditions as living and contested sites of interpretations and reimagining.  She writes on religion's role as a source of conflict and a force in peace-making, and on the relationship between the religious, secular and postsecular, the role of religious and faith-based actors in peacebuilding and conflict transformation, and the links between theory and practice in peacebuilding and reconciliation processes.

The Centre has a strong collaborative ethos, and Professor King, with her colleagues, works with academic partners, secular, religious and faith-based organisations and governments worldwide, supporting peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts at community, national and international levels. She has written about the ways in which multireligious peacebuilding civil society organisations can impact national peace processes, and the ways in which international organisations (particularly the UN) and governments are seeking to engage religious leaders in the promotion of human rights. Her research students are engaged in research across a wide range of topics bringing feminist, interreligious and ecological perspectives to the study of conflict, non-violent action and peacebuilding.

Higher Education Teaching Qualification: Higher Education Academy Fellowship (FHEA).

Anna has an interdisciplinary background in history, social anthropology. religious studies and education.  She studied history at King's Collge, London University (BA), and social anthropology at the Institute of Social Anthropology (now Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology), Oxford, gaining the Dip.Soc Anthropology [now MSc], M.Litt and DPhil.  She also has a PGCE in religious studies from the University of Cambridge (PGCE). and a Certificate in Counselling and Psychotherapy (also from Cambridge)..

Anna studied Hindi at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Cambridge University, before carrying out fieldwork in India, spending several years in Hardwar, a sacred Ganges tirtha, studying the interactions between priests, pilgrims, ascetics and ashramites.  She also carried out research during the Kumbha Mela, a pan-Indian, mass pilgrimage engendering the imagination of a national, and even international, community. Since then, she has carried out numerous fieldwork projects in India and South Asia using reflexive, dialogic and collaborative approaches. She has also worked with Alan Morinis on the film Sacred Journey, an ethnographic study of the Kumbha Mela and with Finnish director, Jouko Aaltonen, on the film LEAP, an exploration of the devotional world of ISKCON.

Anna obtained a PGCE in Religious Studies from the Cambridge Department of Education, and later became the director of its ambitious interdisciplinary multicultural/antiracist project, a project which produced seminal publications across both the humanities and sciences. 

Anna joined what is now the University of Winchester in 1992. As Head of the then Department of Theology and Religious Studies, now the Department of Theology, Religion and Philosophy, she led the development of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in religious studies and encouragied a community of research.  As a member of the Centre of Religion, Reconciliaton and Peace since 2011, she has been engaged (with Professor Mark Owen) in major international peace projects, particularly in Nepal and Myanmar. These projects provided the Department of Theology, Religious Studies and Philosophy with high impact 4* REF case studies in 2014 and 2021. 

In 1998 Anna became the convenor of the Spalding Symposium on Indian Studies which is sponsored by the Spalding Trust. In 2007 she founded the international journal Religions of South Asia (RoSA) as a development of its work. RoSA publishes papers by internationally respected scholars and includes the latest research on distinctively South Asian or Indic religions.  Today she co-edits RoSA with Dermot Killingley (University of Newcastle) and Karen O'Brien Kop (King's College, London). In 2018 Anna was appointed a Trustee of the Spalding Trust which supports inter-relligious research and projects which promote mutual understanding and respect. 

Anna was appointed Professor in 201; she delivered her Inaugural Lecture on 5 April 2017, titled Sacred Violence, Sacred Peace: religion in an age of conflict. Watch the full video of Prof. Anna King's Inaugural lecture.

Areas of expertise

  • The interrelation between religion and politics/nationalism, conflict and peacebuilding
  • Faith-based NGOs and international peacebuilding
  • The role of civil society, and community and faith-based leaders and organisations in peace and reconciliation
  • Hindu and Buddhist ethics in peace and conflict


Recent articles

2022.  'Myanmar's Coup d'etat and the Struggle for Federal Demoicracy and Inclusive Government.' Religions 13 (7), pp.1-41.  https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070594

2022. 'Hinduism': The Culture of Peace and the Ethics of War.  In The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Peace. ed. Jolyon Mitchell, Lesley Orr, Martyn Percy, Francesca Po. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN:978-1-119-4243-5. pp.197-215.

2022. 'Mahatma Gandhi and the Nonviolent Resistance Movement.'  In The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Peace. ed. Jolyon Mitchell, Lesley Orr, Martyn Percy, Francesca Po. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN: 978-1-119-42434-5. pp.289-306.

2022. 'Hinduism' in chapter 2.  World Religions and Peace.  In The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Peace. eds. Jolyon Mitchell, Leslet Orr, Martyn Percy, Franscesca Po. John Wiley @ Sons. ISBN: 978-1-119-42434-5. pp.23-26.

2020. The Promise and Challenge of Multireligious Peacebuilding in the 21st Century: A Myanmar Case Study Religions 2020.11(3), 121

2019. Enhancing the Efficacy of Religious Peacebuilding Practice: An Exploratory Evidence-Based Framework for Assessing Dominant Risks in Religious Peacebuilding. Religions 2019, 10(12), 641

Recent podcasts

Rebuilding Post-conflict Nepal - Prof. Anna King in conversation with Mukti Suvedi

In this podcast in the CRRP's Talking Peace, Exploring Conflict series, Anna talks to leading scholars, researchers and practitioners from all around the world about their approaches to peacebuilding and conflict transformation. She asks about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them, and explores the ways in which the international system is organised be improved to promote peace.

Selected publications

2015 'Transcending Religions, Transforming Traditions.'The Liberation Spiritualities and Ethics of the Dalai Lama and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.' The United Nations Day of Vesak Conference, Bangkok, Thailand. Collected Papers.

2014/15 'Religions, Peacebuilding, Conflict and Non-Violence in Indian Religions' (entire issue of collected papers in Religions of South Asia, ed. Anna King).

2014/15 'Peace by Peaceful Means? A Preliminary Examination of Buddhist Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Nepal, Religions of South Asia, eds Anna King, Dermot Killingley and Simon Brodbeck. London: Equinox.

2014 'Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Recovery in Nepal: A Buddhist Case Study', in: Buddhist Contribution to Global Peace-Building. Eds Most Ven. Dr Thich Nhat Tu and Most Ven. Dr Thich Duc Thien. Vietnam Buddhist University Series 24. Vietnam: Religion Press, pp 357-380.

2014. 'A Hindu Perspective' [commentary], in Degeling C, Irvine R and Kerridge I., 'Faith-based perspectives on the use of chimeric organisms for medical research', Transgenic Research 2014; 23(2): 265-279.

2014. King, Anna and Hedges, Paul. ‘Is the Study of Religion Religious? How to Study Religion, and Who Studies Religion?’, in: Paul Hedges (ed.), Controversies in Contemporary Religion, Vol. I, Westport, CN: Praeger, pp 31-56.

2014. King, Anna and Paul Hedges, ‘What is Religion? Or What is it We’re Talking About?’, in: Paul Hedges (ed.), Controversies in Contemporary Religion, Vol. I, Westport, CN: Praeger, pp. 1-30.

2013. King, Anna and Owen, Mark. Religious Peacebuilding and Development in Nepal: Report and Recommendations for the Nepal Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. University of Winchester.

2012. 'Krishna’s Prasadam: eating our way back to godhead.' Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief 2012; 8(4): 440-465.

2012. 'Krishna’s Cows: ISKCON’s Animal Theology and Practice.' Journal of Animal Ethics 2012; 2(2): 179-204.

2009. 'Islam, Women and Violence.' Feminist Theology, eds. Lisa Isherwood and Lillalou Hughes. Vol. 17(3): 292-328.

2008. 'Rhetorical Reflections'. Religion, Terror, and Violence: Religious Studies Perspectives. eds. Philip L Tite and Bryan Rennie. London: Routledge.

2006. Indian Religions: Renaissance and Renewal in Indian Religions, ed. Anna King. London: Equinox.

2005. 'The Intimate Other: Love Divine in Indian Religions', rds. Anna King and John L. Brockington. Delhi: Orient Longman.

2004. 'Dalit Theology: a Theology of Outrage', in: The Persistent Challenge: Religion, Truth, and Scholarship, Essays in Honour of Klaus Klostermaier, eds. I. Bocken, W. Dupré, P. van der Velde, Maastricht: Uitgeverij Shaker, 53-78.

Recent conferences

  • ?2016. ‘Hindu Attitudes to Non-Human Animals: Precept, Practice and Politics,’ Animal Welfare and Religion Symposium, University of Winchester. 2 November.
  • 2016 ‘The Dalai Lama: Liberal or Strategic Peacebuilder.’ Conference on Buddhism and Conflict Transformation, Winchester University and the Centre for Applied Buddhism. Taplow Court, Maidenhead. 18-19 July.
  • 2016. 'Cultural Conquest and the Rescue of the West’: ISKCON and the Discourses of Modernity and Tradition. Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Divinity School and Center for the Study of World Religions. 22-24 April.
  • 2015 ‘Crossing the Boundaries: The Liberation Ethics and Spiritualities of the Dalai Lama and Dr Babasaheh Ambedkar.’ The Religion in the Local and Global: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Challenges. British Association of the Study of Religion Annual Conference. 7-9 September.
  • 2015 (invited speaker). Peace Forum on ‘Peace Studies for Developing World Peace,’ hosted by The Peace Studies Program of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University. 26 May.
  • 2015 (invited speaker and panel moderator) ‘Transcending Religions, Transforming Traditions: The Liberation Spiritualities and Ethics of the Dalai Lama and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.’ International Buddhist Conference of the United Nations Day of Vesak, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Ayutthaya, and United Nations Convention Centre, Bangkok, Thailand. 27-31 May (source of funding: Thailand UNDV-2015 Buddhist Conference).
  • 2014 ‘The Role of Religions in Reconciliation and Peacebuilding.’ Joint paper with Mark Owen. Societas Ethica Annual Conference, Maribor, Slovenia. 21 August.
  • 2014 (keynote speaker) ‘Religious Literacy’: Why It is Important.’ South East England's Faith Forum AGM on religious literacy, 7 June.
  • 2014 ‘Peacebuilding and Post-Conflict Recovery in Nepal: A Buddhist Case Study.’ The United Nations Day of Vesak Conference hosted by the National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, Bai Dinh Temple, Vietnam, 7-11 May (source of funding: Vietnam UNDV-2014 Buddhist Conference).


2012. UK Première of LEAP, an ethnographic documentary film that focusses on followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). LEAP is directed by Jouko Aaltonen, Cinematographer Marita Hällfors and Production PerrtiVeijalainen Illume Ltd. The premiere of LEAP took place in Helsinki in April 2012, and the first screening in the UK was at the British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR) conference in Winchester in 2012. LEAP was originally funded by the University of Winchester in the form of a research grant, but later attracted substantial funding from the Finnish Film Foundation / Elina Kivihalme / AVEK / Timo Korhonen / KMS / Juha Rajamäki / and the MEDIA Programme of the European Union. LEAP represents a collaboration between the director, Jouko Aaltonen and the University of Winchester.

1998. Anthropological consultant to SACRED JOURNEY, a documentary film on the 1998 Hardwar Kumbha Melā; length 51 minutes, produced and directed by Dr R Alan Morinis, the Canadian anthropologist, filmmaker, and writer; aired first on television by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and then globally.

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