About the Authors
The authors are Catherine Robinson and Denise Cush.
Catherine Robinson has a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from Stirling University and a PhD in Religious Studies from Lancaster University. She taught at Bath Spa University for nearly 30 years where her main interests included issues of gender and sexuality in religions and Indian religions (especially Hinduism and Sikhism) in the modern period. She was also a member of the local SACRE and the regional steering group of Learn, Teach, Lead RE. Together with Denise Cush, she worked on the Living Religion: Facilitating Fieldwork Placements in Theology and Religious Studies project that received the Shap Award for 2013 for its contribution to the field of the study of/education in religions. More recently, they co-authored articles on the relationship between Religious Studies and Religious Education and the role of feminist praxis in both, and a chapter on the applicability of the concept of ‘religion’ to Dharmic traditions, and the implications for religious education. She has also written an entry on ‘Hinduism and Religious Education’ for a German online dictionary. Her publications include Tradition and liberation: the Hindu tradition in the Indian women’s movement (Curzon, 1999), Interpretations of the Bhagavad-Gita and images of the Hindu tradition: the Song of the Lord (Routledge, 2006) and co-editorship of The Routledge Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Routledge, 2008) along with, for example, articles on the legacy of Edwin Arnold and religion in the Indian Army (Religions of South Asia, 2009; 2014; 2015).
Catherine grew up in a family where religion was debated as much as politics. Educated in both Catholic and non-denominational schools, as an adult she retained no religious belief or commitment. However, her fascination for religions and for Hinduism in particular remained, especially an interest in Gandhi to whose life and career she was introduced by her mother when a young child. While her main academic concerns have been with real-world implications of religious belief and practice, she feels very much ‘at home’ in Hindu settings and enjoys puja in temples as well as participating in festivals. She has visited India and is familiar with various different Hindu groups and communities in the UK where she has been made welcome. However, she has made particularly strong links with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness based at Bhaktivedanta Manor where devotees became friends over the course of decades bringing students to visit.
Denise Cush is Emeritus Professor of Religion and Education at Bath Spa University, having retired after 29 years there in 2015. Her roles during this time included leading and teaching Study of Religions and Philosophies and Ethics, teaching within Education Studies, and teacher training for both primary and secondary RE. Before that she taught Religious Studies (including Hinduism at A/O level) as well as Religious Education for nine years at St. Mary’s RC Sixth-form College in Middlesbrough. She has an MA in Theology from Oxford University, a PGCE in RE with Science as second subject from Westminster College, Oxford, an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Lancaster, a PhD in Religious Education from the University of Warwick, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala. She was a member of the Commission on Religious Education 2017-18, and Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Religious Education from 2011-2018. Publications include Buddhism, a still much-used textbook (Hodder, 1994), Celebrating Planet Earth, a Pagan/Christian Conversation (Moon, 2015) and many others on religious education. She has collaborated with her colleague Catherine Robinson on a number of publications, notably in co-editing The Routledge Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Routledge, 2008).
Denise was brought up within a Roman Catholic family and attended Catholic maintained schools in the North East. She identified as Catholic (of a liberal, post Vatican II, ‘preferential option for the poor’, ‘justice and peace’ tendency) for the first 30 years of her life, including teaching in a Catholic Sixth-form college. Since then she has resisted labels, and identifies as non-binary in relation to the religious/non-religious construct, though has sometimes called herself a ‘positive pluralist’, acknowledging the influence of several religious and non-religious worldviews on her personal worldview. The factors affecting her interpretations of Hinduism include visits to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, visits to Hindu temples/communities elsewhere such as in Australia and South Africa as well as many visits to Hindu temples and interactions with Hindu communities and individuals in the UK. She first decided to study Hinduism (and Buddhism) at MA level, mainly because of the contrast with the Christianity of her upbringing and Theology degree, and probably also because of the positive image ‘Eastern’ religions had in 1960s/70s alternative youth culture. Any attempt to summarise the complexity and diversity to which the label Hinduism is applied is bound to be partial and flawed, but, we hope, of some help.