Religions in Practice : An Approach to the Anthropology of Religion book cover
7th Edition

Religions in Practice
An Approach to the Anthropology of Religion

ISBN 9781138221123
Published August 7, 2017 by Routledge
284 Pages

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Book Description

Religions in Practice provides a comprehensive and primarily theme-based overview for students of the anthropology of religion. Whilst covering traditional topics such as magic, witchcraft, and spiritual healing, the book addresses key contemporary subjects including migration, transnationalism, nationalism, secularism, and law. It offers an issues-oriented perspective on everyday religious behaviors and examines small-scale societies as well as major, established religions. Throughout the text Bowen engages with ongoing debates concerning the place of religion in public life. He successfully balances the presentation of theory and concepts with rich case study examples, integrating theoretical discussion with a wide range of cross-cultural ethnographic material.

This seventh edition has been updated throughout. The opening section now focuses more clearly on the question of what is ‘religion’ and on approaches to studying religion. There is more on materiality as well as a new final chapter on religious mobilizing and violence. Further resources are available via a comprehensive companion website.

Table of Contents

Part One: Theories and Authority
1. Studying religion through practice
2. Social theory and the anthropology of religion
3. Authority and centralization
4. States, secularisms and religions

Part Two: Materialities and Morality
5. Meanings and materiality
6. Material transformations in Catholicism
7. Transatlantic religions 
8.  Embodiment and materiality in healing
9. Embodied harmfulness 
10. Boundaries: shaping time, space, and selves

Part Three: Languages and Movement
11. Speech and Grace in Protestantism
12. Revelation and Authority in Islam
13. Virtual religion
14. Migration and diaspora
15. Religious mobilizing

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John R. Bowen is Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. His research focuses on comparative social studies of Islam across the world.


Praise for the sixth edition:

“Bowen's Religions in Practice provides a very compelling introduction to the anthropology of religion, integrating theoretical discussions with ethnographic material from a wide range of societies, especially Islam in its diverse manifestations. While covering traditional topics like magic, witchcraft, and spiritual healing, the book also breaks new ground by covering ultra-contemporary political issues like migration, nationalism, transnationalism, law, and secularism.”
  - Sean O'Neill, University of Oklahoma
“An excellent introduction to Anthropology of Religion. It lays out the issues clearly, describes different theoretical approaches, and illustrates its points with lots of examples.”
  - Mark Webb, Texas Tech University
“An eclectic book build around the practice of the world religions.”
  - Derrick Lemons, the University of Georgia
“Its coverage of a range of issues and phenomena is first-rate. A thorough and very useful textbook, with particularly helpful attention to theory, method, and non-Western religious phenomena.”
  - James Findlay, California State University Northridge
“Clear, anthropologically oriented discussion of the study of religion”
  - Eric Rovie, Georgia Perimeter College-Newton Campus
“It is a clearly written, comprehensive text on the anthropology of religion that focuses primarily on religion as practice rather than as a belief system. It is current and includes important topics relevant to the modern situation. It is well-balanced in terms of the presentation of theory/concepts and case examples.”
  - Frances Purifoy, University of Louisville