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News archive 2006

King's Sociologist of Religion presents documentary

4 April 2006, PR38/06

Dr Richard Hoskins, Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Sociology of Religion in the Department of Theology at King's College London, investigates African religions in a thought-provoking BBC 2 documentary, Witch Child, to be shown this evening (4 April) at 23.20.

The programme highlights the increase of a disturbing recent crime in which young African children in the UK are being abused, and even murdered, by parents and relatives in the belief that they are possessed by evil spirits.

Dr Hoskins, a specialist in African religions who joined King's in 2003, investigates the background to this phenomenon and sensitively analyses the driving forces behind these religions.

He comments: ‘I travelled to Africa in search of a young London child who had been sent back to the Congo and came face-to-face with the horrifying realities of exorcism in the 21st century.'

Dr Hoskins has been invited by Democratic Republic of the Congo President, Joseph Kabila, to talk about the issues raised in his investigation.

Richard Hoskins lived and studied in Africa for five years before going up to Oxford to read Theology. He then studied for his PhD in historical Christianity at King's before being appointed Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University College where he specialised in African Religions and a range of other themes in contemporary religion.

Whilst at Bath he was asked to help on the Thames torso case, and after pioneering ‘cultural profiling' on the investigation he has been asked to give advice on numerous other criminal investigations involving apparent religious motivation. He is currently researching for a major book on the Kimbanguist movement of central Africa, and has recently completed a series of articles on African Religions. He regularly appears on radio and television programmes.

Notes to editors

King's College London

King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,800 undergraduate students and nearly 5,700 postgraduates in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.

King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, international relations, medicine and the sciences, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to four Medical Research Council Centres – more than any other university.

King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £363 million.

Further information

Public Relations Office, King's College London

Tel: 020 7848 3202 Email:


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