1st Edition

Secular Societies, Spiritual Selves? The Gendered Triangle of Religion, Secularity and Spirituality

Edited By Anna Fedele, Kim E. Knibbe Copyright 2020
    256 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    254 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Secular Societies, Spiritual Selves? is the first volume to address the gendered intersections of religion, spirituality and the secular through an ethnographic approach.

    The book examines how ‘spirituality’ has emerged as a relatively ‘silent’ category with which people often signal that they are looking for a way to navigate between the categories of the religious and the secular, and considers how this is related to gendered ways of being and relating. Using a lived religion approach the contributors analyse the intersections between spirituality, religion and secularism in different geographical areas, ranging from the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy to Canada, the United States and Mexico. The chapters explore the spiritual experiences of women and their struggle for a more gender equal way of approaching the divine, as well as the experience of men and of those who challenge binary sexual identities advocating for a queer spirituality.

    This volume will be of interest to anthropologists and sociologists as well as scholars in other disciplines who seek to understand the role of spirituality in creating the complex gendered dynamics of modern societies.

    Introduction: Spirituality, the Third Category in a Gendered Triangle

    Anna Fedele and Kim E. Knibbe

    1. Feminist Spirituality as Lived Religion: How UK Feminists Forge Religio-Spiritual Lives

    Kristin Aune

    2. Goddess Spirituality in Italy: Secular and Spiritual – Two Sides of the Same Coin?

    Stefania Palmisano and Roberta Pibiri

    3. Healers, Missionaries and Entrepreneurs of the Feminine: The Secularization of Contemporary Women’s Spirituality

    Chia Longman

    4. The Sacred Feminine in Mexico’s Neopagan Women’s Circles

    Renée de la Torre and Cristina Gutiérrez Zúñiga

    5. The (B)earth of a Gendered Eco-Spirituality: Globally Connected Ethnographies Between Mexico and the European Alps

    Irene Becci, Manéli Farahmand and Alexandre Grandjean

    6. Re-enchanted Selves: An Ethnography of Wild Woman Workshops in Belgium

    Carine Plancke

    7. Gendering the Spiritual Marketplace: Public, Private and In-Between

    Laurel Zwissler

    8. "God Wants Spiritual Fruits not Religious Nuts": Spirituality as Middle Way Between Religion and Secularism at the Marian Shrine of Fátima

    Anna Fedele

    9. 'A Merely Private Activity': Spiritual Consumerism as a Way to Transform Gendered Relationships to Secular and Religious Authorities

    Kim E. Knibbe

    10. Is Yoga a Girl’s Thing?: A Case Study on Working Class Men Doing Yoga in Jail

    Mar Griera

    11. "Things I Do Are Manifestations of Love": Queer Religiosities and Secular Spirituality Among Montreal Pagans

    Martin Lepage

    Afterword: To the Vagina Triangle and Beyond!

    Linda Woodhead


    Anna Fedele is Senior Researcher at the CRIA-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Portugal. Her research focuses on the intersections of gender and religion with a particular interest for ritual creativity and pilgrimage. She has done fieldwork in Southern Europe and Latin America about holistic spiritualities and Catholicism.

    Kim E. Knibbe is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology of Religion at Groningen University, the Netherlands. She is currently directing the project 'Sexuality, Religion and Secularism' (funded by the Netherlands Foundation for Research, NWO). Previous research focused on Catholicism and spirituality in the Netherlands and on Nigerian Pentecostalism in Europe and the Netherlands.