1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Material Religion

    478 Pages 70 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Handbook of Material Religion places objects and bodies at the center of scholarly studies of religious life and practice.

    Propelling forward the study of material religion, the Handbook first reveals the deep philosophical roots of its key categories and then advances new critical analytics, such as queer materialities, inescapable material entanglements, and hyperobjects that explode the small-scale personal view on religions.

    The Handbook comprises thirty chapters, written by an international team of contributors who offer a global perspective of religious pasts and presents, divided into four thematic parts:

    • Genealogies of Material Religion
    • Materializing the Terms of the Study of Religion
    • Entanglements, Entrapment, Escaping
    • Hyperobjects, or How Ginormous Things Affect Religions

    In these four parts, the study of material religion is redirected towards systematic, critical interrogations of the imbrication of religious structures of power with racial, economic, political, and gendered forms of domination.

    From Spinoza’s political theology to African philosophies of ubuntu; from the queer materialities of Mesoamerican religion to the Satanic Temple of the United States; from Islamic love and sacrifice in human-animal entanglements to Shia militants’ attachment to weaponry; from epidemic cataclysm in Latin America to vast infrastructures and the gathering of millions in India’s Kumbh Mela, the study of material religion proves to be the study par excellence of the human condition.

    The Handbook is essential reading for students and researchers in religious studies, anthropology, history, and media studies, and will also be of interest to those in related fields such as archeology, sociology, and philosophy.

    Editors' Introduction: The Pasts, Presents, and Futures of the Study of Material Religion
    Pooyan Tamimi Arab, Jennifer Scheper Hughes, and S. Brent Rodríguez-Plate

    Part I: Genealogies of Material Religion

    1.1 Spinoza: Arch-Father of the Material-Religion Approach
    Pooyan Tamimi Arab

    1.2 Material Theories in Japanese Buddhism: What Kūkai and Dōgen Thought about Things
    Pamela D. Winfield

    1.3 Gender, Ritual, and Dancing Images: Jane E. Harrison’s Aesthetic Approaches to the Materiality of Religion
    Ulrike Brunotte

    1.4 The Philosophy of Ubuntu and Material Religion in Africa: Engaging Henry Rowley’s Mid-Nineteenth-Century Perspective on the Materiality of Religion
    Kapya J. Kaoma

    1.5 Mesoamerican Nightlife and the Queer Materialities of Religion
    Xiomara Verenice Cervantes-Gómez

    1.6 Comparison after Materiality
    Johan Strijdom

    Part II: Materializing the Terms of the Study of Religion

    2.1 Books in Religious Studies: From Relentless Textualism to Embodied Practices
    Katja Rakow

    2.2 Of Manuscripts That Can’t Be Read and Roads That Can’t Be Seen: Historical Matters among Chams in Cambodia
    Emiko Stock

    2.3 The Recursivity of the Fetish
    Roger Sansi

    2.4 Animism? Animated? Ensouled? The Active Lives of Balinese Masks
    Laurel Kendall and Ni Wayan Pasek Ariati

    2.5 "Brainsmithing" African Material Religion
    Allen F. Roberts and Mary "Polly" Nooter Roberts

    2.6 Crossing Heritage: Material Religion at the Humboldt Forum
    Duane Jethro

    2.7 Material God Mengdu: A Symbol and Real Presence
    Yohan Yoo

    2.8 Three Sacred Mouthfuls: Transformed and Transformative Materiality of Sacred Food in Hindu Publics
    Tulasi Srinivas

    2.9 Dark Mirroring: The Satanic Temple’s Queer Material Religion
    Sharday Mosurinjohn

    Part III: Entanglements, Entrapments, Escaping

    3.1 The Entanglements of Religion and Things
    Ian Hodder

    3.2 Measuring Entanglement in Material Traces of Ritualized Interaction: Preferential Attachment in a Prehistoric Petroglyph Distribution
    Tom Froese and Emiliano Gallaga Murrieta

    3.3 "Disentangling" as an Everyday Practice: Material, Visual, Sacred, and Commodity features of "Puja Things"
    Vineeta Sinha

    3.4 Broken Buddhas: Reflections on (Im)Materiality and Impermanence
    S. Romi Mukherjee

    3.5 Buddhist Practice, Recreation, and Fun: Entanglements of Popular Culture and Material Religion
    Inken Prohl

    3.6 Christmas Gifts at the Turn of the Twentieth Century in Santiago, Chile: From a Gift Economy to Commodity
    Olaya Sanfuentes

    3.7 The Jewel of Men: Weaponry as Material Religion among Muslim Communities
    Younes Saramifar

    3.8 Human-Animal Entanglements and the Anthropology of Sacrifice: Practicing Qurbani in Mumbai 
    Shaheed Tayob

    3.9 Borrando La Frontera: Ana Teresa Fernández’s Transborder Communion
    Barbara Sostaita

    Part IV: Hyperobjects, or How Ginormous Things Affect Religions

    4.1 The Erie Canal and the Birth of American Religion: Infrastructure as Hyperobject
    S. Brent Rodríguez-Plate

    4.2 The Kumbh Melā as Hyperobject: Sound, Scale, Nation, Environment
    Amanda Lucia

    4.3 Sonic Religion: The Analysis of Atmospheric Half-Things
    Patrick Eisenlohr

    4.4 Mortandad as Hyperobject: Colonial Death Worlds and Epidemic Cataclysm in Las Américas
    Jennifer Scheper Hughes

    4.5 Virus as Hyperobject: Early Atlantic World Jews and Yellow Fever Epidemics
    Laura Arnold Leibman

    4.6 On Human Extinction
    Evander Price



    Pooyan Tamimi Arab is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Utrecht University.

    Jennifer Scheper Hughes is Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Riverside.

    S. Brent Rodríguez-Plate is Professor, by special appointment, at Hamilton College, NY.