Religion and Material Culture
The Matter of Belief
Edited by David Morgan
Routledge – 2010 – 306 pages
Religious belief is rooted in and sustained by material practice, and this book provides an extraordinary insight into how it works on the ground. David Morgan has brought together a lively group of writers from religious studies, anthropology, history of art, and other disciplines, to investigate belief in everyday practices; in the objects, images, and spaces of religious devotion and in the sensations and feelings that are the medium of experience. By avoiding mind/body dualism, the study of religion can break new ground by examining embodiment, sensation, space, and performance.
Materializing belief means taking a close look at what people do, how they feel, the objects they exchange and display, and the spaces in which they perform whether spontaneously or with scripted ceremony. Contributions to the volume examine religions around the world—from Korea and Brazil to North America, Europe, and Africa. Belief is explored in a wealth of contexts, including Tibetan Buddhism, the hajj, American suburbia and the world of dreams, visions and UFOs.
'With this volume, one of the most important recent developments in the study of religion, attention to its materiality, achieves a new pitch of sophistication. David Morgan, already known for his pioneering work on religious visual culture, has assembled scholars from across the spectrum of scholarly disciplines. The result is a fascinating collection that will draw a wide range of readers.' - Webb Keane, author of Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter and Signs of Recognition: Powers and Hazards of Representation in an Indonesian Society.
Introduction: 'The Matter of Belief' (David Morgan) Part 1: Theory 1. Body and Mind: Material for a Never-ending Intellectual Odyssey (Jojada Verrips) 2. Object Theory: Toward an Intersubjective, Mediated, and Dynamic Theory of Religion (Gordon Lynch) 3. Materiality, Social Analysis, and the Study of Religions (David Morgan) Part 2: Sensation 4. Tactility and Transcendence: Epistemologies of Touch in African Arts and Spiritualities (Mary Nooter Roberts) 5. The Feeling of Buddhahood, or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Body, Belief and the Practice of Chod (Laura Harrington) Part 3: Things 6. Tempering ‘the Tyranny of the Already’: Re-Signification and the Migration of Images (Allen F. Roberts) 7. Out of This World: The Materiality of the Beyond (Jeremy Biles) 8. The Material Culture of Japanese Domesticity (Inge Daniels) Part 4: Spaces 9. Baroque Worship in Brazil (Jens Baumgarten) 10. Form, Function, and Failure in Postwar Protestant Christian Education Building (Gretchen T. Buggeln) 11. Materializing Ancestor Spirits: Name Tablets, Portraits, and Tombs in Korea (Insoo Cho) Part 5: Performance 12. Clothing as Embodied Experience of Belief (Anna-Karina Hermkens) 13. Dressing the Ka‘ba from Cairo: The Aesthetics of Pilgrimage to Mecca (Richard McGregor) 14. Performing Statues (Jon P. Mitchell)
David Morgan is Professor of Religion at Duke University, where he also holds an appointment in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies. He is the author of Visual Piety (1998), Protestants and Pictures (1999), The Sacred Gaze (2005), and The Lure of Images (2007) and is an editor of the journal Material Religion.