Entering Religious Minds : The Social Study of Worldviews book cover
1st Edition

Entering Religious Minds
The Social Study of Worldviews

ISBN 9781138603936
Published August 9, 2019 by Routledge
138 Pages

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Book Description

Led by Mona Kanwal Sheikh and Mark Juergensmeyer, nine authors journey into the worlds of unusual, sometimes violent religious groups. Together, these original first-person contributions provide an integrated, problem-solving approach to field research in religious extremism, illustrating ground-breaking methods in gaining access to their subjects’ worldviews. In a narrative style that is at once both conversational and rigorous, the book demonstrates for students, researchers, and journalists the relevance of religious studies to political science, sociology, and anthropology. It is particularly well suited to upper-level courses at the intersection of religion and the social sciences.

Table of Contents



1. Introduction: The Challenge of Entering Religious Minds Mark Juergensmeyer and Mona Kanwal Sheikh

Part I Bridging Disciplines: Theology, Religious Studies, and Social Science

2. From Methodists to Mormons: Reflections on Describing and Explaining Religious Worldviews Ann Taves

3. Finding a Vocation Between Religious Worlds Richard Madsen

4. Route 40: Encountering a Spiritual School in the Desert Ariel Glucklich

5. Translating Worldviews: Religious Studies as a Social Science Julie Ingersoll

Part II Encountering Religious Violence: Fieldwork, Empathy, and Immersion

6. Talking with Terrorists, Entering Their Minds Mark Juergensmeyer

7. Epistemic Worldviews: Buddhist Perspectives on Violence Michael Jerryson

8. Lessons from My Study of the Pakistani Taliban Mona Kanwal Sheikh

9. Interviewing White Ethno(-Religious) Nationalists: Reflections on Fieldwork Sara Kamali

10. Grasping Ritual Violence in Ancient Texts Margo Kitts

11. Conclusion: The Significance of Worldview Analysis for Social Sciences Mona Kanwal Sheikh


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Mona Kanwal Sheikh, PhD in Political Science, is Senior Researcher and Head of the International Security Research Unit at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Mark Juergensmeyer is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Global Studies, Affiliate Professor of Religious Studies, and Founding Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara.


"This important volume makes a significant conceptual and methodological contribution to the study of religion by exploring in-depth cases of religious communities' worldviews. The chapters provide fascinating inside perspectives on communities across an impressive range of geographic sites and religious traditions. It should be of great interest to a broad, multidisciplinary audience at all levels."

Cecelia Lynch, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of California, Irvine

"We cannot fully understand religious violence without taking the inside perspective into account – the worldview as perceived by the believer within its particular social context. This unique and important book provides a useful interdisciplinary guide for scholars of religion, political science and sociology on how to emphatically understand and critically analyze the religious experience. By putting the religious imageries, ideas, justifications, and practices as the focal points of the analysis, the book provides novel ways to bridge the inside and outside approach to the study of religion in general, and religious violence, in particular."

Isak Svensson, Uppsala University, author of Ending Holy Wars: Religion and Conflict Resolution in Civil Wars (2012) and co-editor of International Relations and Religion (2016).