Material culture has emerged in recent decades as a significant theoretical concern for the study of religion. This book contributes to and evaluates this material turn, presenting thirteen chapters of new empirical research and theoretical reflection from some of the leading international scholars of material religion. Following a model for material analysis proposed in the first chapter by David Morgan, the contributors trace the life cycle of religious materiality through three phases: the production of religious objects, their classification as religious (or non-religious), and their circulation and use in material culture.
The chapters in this volume consider how objects become and cease to be sacred, how materiality can be used to contest access to public space and resources, and how religion is embodied and performed by individuals in their everyday lives. Contributors discuss the significance of the materiality of religion across different religious traditions and diverse geographical regions, paying close attention to gender, age, ethnicity, memory and politics. The volume closes with an afterword by Manuel Vásquez.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The body of St Cuthbert Tim Hutchings and Joanne McKenzie
- Material analysis and the study of religion David Morgan
- From production to performance: Candles, creativity and connectivity Marion Bowman
- Blessed food from Jalarām’s kitchen: Narrative, continuity and service among Jalarām Bāpā devotees in London Martin Wood
- Music and materialism: The emergence of alternative Muslim lifestyle cultures in Britain Carl Morris
- Augmented graves and virtual Bibles: Digital media and material religion Tim Hutchings
- Art works: A relational rather than representational understanding of art and buildings Graham Harvey
- Im/material objects: Relics, gestured signs, and the substance of the immaterial Timothy Carroll
- ‘An altar inside a circle’: Climate activists and green Christians ritualising and relating to place and planet Maria Nita
- The significance of secular sacred space in the formation of British atheist identities Janet Eccles and Rebecca Catto
- Death in material and mental culture Douglas J. Davies
- Religion materialised in the everyday: Young people’s attitudes towards material expressions of religion Elisabeth Arweck
- Mobilising Mecca: Reassembling blessings at the museum Steph Berns
- Matter challenging words: From ‘angel talisman’ to ‘prayer ornament’ Terhi Utriainen
Part 1. Production
Part 2. Classification
Part 3. Circulation
Afterword: Materiality, lived religion, and the challenges of "going back to the things themselves" Manuel Vásquez
Tim Hutchings is a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Media Studies at Stockholm University, Sweden. He is a sociologist of digital religion, and his research has included studies of online churches, digital Bibles, evangelism and pilgrimage. His current work focuses on death, grief and memory in digital environments, as part of the Existential Terrains research program (et.ims.su.se) funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation and Stockholm University. He is the editor of the Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture (jrmdc.com).
Joanne McKenzie is currently undertaking doctoral research in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, UK. The project is focused on how social class shapes contemporary English evangelicalism and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.