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Dr Suzanne Newcombe

Profile summary

  • Lecturer in Religious Studies
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Social Sciences & Global Studies
  • Religious Studies
  • suzanne.newcombe

Professional biography

I became fascinated by religion growing up in Kansas, my experience of the landscape strongly affected by the passion and religious beliefs of the people who live there. Religion became a formal focus of study while I was an undergraduate at Amherst College in Massachusetts, as an undergraduate I spent a year at SOAS in London where I was inspired by the varieties of religious life in the multicultural city. In order to explore living religion further, I enrolled in an MSc in Religion in Contemporary Society in the Sociology Department of the London School of Economics. I completed my PhD in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge looking at the popularsiation of yoga and ayurvedic medicine in Britain. 

Research interests

I am very interested in the interfaces between religion, health and healing; I am currently working half-time on a project funded by the European Research Council (Horizon 2020) entitled ‘Medicine, Immortality and Moksha: Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia’ where I am focusing on overlaps between yoga, ayurveda and Indian alchemy in the modern period. At the moment, my research is focusing on ideas about immortality, rejuvenation practices and the medical interventions of sadhus. This portion of my work is based at Inform, an indepedent charity now based in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College London.

I also have extensive experience in Sociology of Religion specializing in new and minority religious movements in contemporary Britain. From 2002-2016, I worked for Professor Eileen Barker at Inform, a registered charity that researches and provides information on new and minority religions and spiritualities using social scientific methodology. I have a specialty in movements originating in, or inspired by South Asian religious beliefs and the overlaps between religious beliefs and health care practices. I also have a long-term interest in millenarianism and apocalyptic groups and conducted in-depth research at Inform concerning millennial expectations of 2012. 

Teaching interests

I currently chair A332: Why is Religion Controversial? and am also the Module Team Accessiblity Co-ordinator for A227: Exploring Religion: Places, Practices, Texts and Experiences for which I also co-convened Block 3. I produced the Open Learn course Religious Diversity based on material from A227. I am contributing material to A111: Discovering the Arts and Humanities, which will present for the first time in 2019.

I have a passionate interest in making complex and controversial subjects intelligible for the general public and have often given talks to A-level students and to the media. I worked with Inform and the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM) at the Panacea Charitable Trust to create accessible online Profiles of Millenarian Movements

External collaborations

I am a founding editor of the Journal of Yoga Studies (2017-present) and the Modern Yoga Research website (2009-present). 

Since 2016, I have served on the educational advisory committee for the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM). 

I am book reviews editor for the journal Religions of South Asia (2011-present) and served as a commissioning editor for the Indian Traditions section of Religion Compass from (2012-2015).


Transmutations: Rejuvenation, Longevity, and Immortality Practices in South and Inner Asia (2017-12-31)
Wujastyk, Dagmar; Newcombe, Suzanne and Barois, Christèle
History of Science in South Asia, 5(2) (i-xvii)
Yogis, Ayurveda, and Kayakalpa: The Rejuvenation of Pandit Malaviya (2017)
Newcombe, Suzanne
History of Science in South Asia, 5(2) (pp. 85-120)
Guest Editorial for a Special Issue of Religions of South Asia: Yoga Darśana, Yoga Sādhana: traditions, transmissions and transformations (2017)
Newcombe, Suzanne and Ciołkosz, Matylda
Religions of South Asia, 11(2-3) (pp. 117-122)
Religious prophecies: the next end of the world (2010-04)
Harvey, Sarah and Newcombe, Suzanne
Sociology Review, 19(2) (pp. 8-11)
The Development of Modern Yoga: A Survey of the Field (2009-11-25)
Newcombe, Suzanne
Religion Compass, 3(6) (pp. 986-1002)
Stretching for Health and Well-Being: Yoga and Women in Britain, 1960–1980 (2007)
Newcombe, Suzanne
Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity, 3(1) (37- 63)
Spirituality and 'Mystical Religion' in Contemporary Society: A Case Study of British Practitioners of the Iyengar Method of Yoga (2005)
Hasselle-Newcombe, Suzanne
Journal of Contemporary Religion, 20(3) (pp. 305-321)
Yoga in Britain: Stretching Spirituality and Educating Yogis (2019-06-01)
Newcombe, Suzanne
ISBN : 9781781796610 | Publisher : Equinox | Published : Sheffield
Certain Beliefs and Uncertain Evidence – the Case of Shugden (2021-01-01)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Knott, Kim and Francis, Matthew eds. Minority Religions and Uncertainty. Routledge-Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements
ISBN : 9781472484512 | Publisher : Routledge (In Press)
Yoga in Europe (2019)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Jacobson, Knut and Sardella, Ferdinando eds. Handbook of Hinduism in Europe ((In Press))
Publisher : Brill | Published : Leiden
"Trust Me, You Can't Trust Them": Stigmatised Knowledge in Cults and Conspiracies (2018-10-02)
Newcombe, Suzanne and van Eck Duymaer van Twist, Amanda
In: Dyrendal, Asbjørn; Robertson, David G. and Asprem, Egil eds. Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion (pp. 152-179)
ISBN : 978-90-04-38202-2 | Publisher : Brill | Published : Leiden
Spaces of Yoga – Towards a Non-Essentialist Understanding of Yoga (2018-09-10)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Baier, Karl; Maas, Philipp André and Preisendanz, Karin eds. Yoga in Transformation: Historical and Contemporary Perspective. Wiener Forum für Theologie und Religionswissenschaft (pp. 551-573)
ISBN : 978-3-8471-0862-7 | Publisher : V&R University Press | Published : Göttingen
The Revival of Yoga in Contemporary India (2017-07-01)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Barton, John ed. Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Religion
ISBN : 9780199340378 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Cults: history, beliefs, practices (2014-11-04)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Muck, Terry C.; Netland, Harold A. and McDermott, Gerald R. eds. Handbook of Religion: A Christian Engagement with Traditions, Teachings, and Practices (pp. 568-572)
ISBN : 9780801037764 | Publisher : Baker Academic | Published : Grand Rapids, MI, USA
The institutionalization of the yoga tradition: ''gurus'' B. K. S. Iyengar and Yogini Sunita in Britain (2014-01-09)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Singleton, Mark and Goldberg, Ellen eds. Gurus of Modern Yoga (pp. 147-167)
ISBN : 9780199938704 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : New York
Magic and yoga: the role of subcultures in transcultural exchange (2013-06-21)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Hauser, Beatrix ed. Yoga Traveling: Bodily Practice in Transcultural Perspective. Transcultural research ? Heidelberg studies on Asia and Europe in a global context (pp. 57-79)
ISBN : 9783319003146 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham
Religious education in the United Kingdom (2012-08-06)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Davis, Derek and Miroshnikova, Elena eds. The Routledge International Handbook of Religious Education. Routledge International Handbooks of Education (pp. 367-382)
ISBN : 9780415536301 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon
Global hybrids? 'Eastern traditions' of health and wellness in the West (2012-05-09)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Nair-Venugopal, Shanta ed. The Gaze of the West and Framings of the East. Frontiers of Globalization (pp. 202-217)
ISBN : 978-0-230-30292-1 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke
Grossbritannien | United Kingdom (2011)
Newcombe, Suzanne and Shterin, Marat
In: Schäfer, Danny and Schwarzer, Corinna eds. Religiöse Intoleranz und Diskriminierung in ausgewählten Ländern Europas - Teil II. Religious Intolerance and Discrimination in selected European Countries - Part II. Religion - Staat - Gesellschaft: Zeitschrift fur Glaubensformen und Weltanscauguungen. Journal for the study of beliefs and worldviews (12/1) (pp. 29-52)
ISBN : 9783643998941 | Publisher : LIT Verlag | Published : Munster, Germany
Financing of churches and religious societies in England (2010)
Newcombe, Suzanne and Barker, Eileen
In: Moravčíková, Michaela and Valová, Eleonóra eds. Financing of Churches and Religious Societies in the 21st Century (pp. 29-52)
ISBN : 978-80-89096-46-6 | Publisher : Institute for State-Church Relations | Published : Bratislava, Slovakia
Ayurvedic Medicine in Britain and the Epistemology of Practicing Medicine in "Good Faith" (2008-07)
Newcombe, Suzanne
In: Wujastyk, Dagmar and Smith, Frederick M. eds. Modern and Global Ayurveda: Pluralism and Paradigms. Health Studies / Asian Studies (pp. 257-284)
ISBN : 9780791474891 | Publisher : State University of New York Press | Published : Albany, USA
Prophecy in the New Millennium: When Prophecies Persist (2013-04-22)
Harvey, Sarah and Newcombe, Suzanne
Harvey, Sarah and Newcombe, Suzanne eds.
Routledge Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements
ISBN : 9781409449959 | Publisher : Ashgate Publishing | Published : Farnham