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Feeling Apollo: The Sensual Paradigms of Landscape at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Klaros

Jaimie Gunderson assesses the interplay between body and visual representations at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Klaros. In conversation with aesthetic theory and classical studies, Gunderson suggests that visitors to the Klarian landscape were implicated in two competing sensual paradigms, which enabled them not only to see, but to feel, Apollo.

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Recent Work in, Jugaad: A Material Religions Project

State Islam in Morocco

Kaylee Steck investigates the diversity of state Islam in Morocco, including the ways it manifests across the densely interconnected fields of education, politics, religious practice and religious programming. Given the breadth of these manifestations, Steck argues that Moroccans engage with official religious discourse in different ways, rendering not a uniform experience of Islam, as the state may prefer, but unique and diverse quotidian experiences alongside multiple state Islams with different discourses and iconographies. In doing so, Steck resists the notion of state religion as a coherent set of policies and institutions.

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Feeling Apollo: The Sensual Paradigms of Landscape at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Klaros

Jaimie Gunderson assesses the interplay between body and visual representations at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Klaros. In conversation with aesthetic theory and classical studies, Gunderson suggests that visitors to the Klarian landscape were implicated in two competing sensual paradigms, which enabled them not only to see, but to feel, Apollo.

Continue Reading

Material Culture and the Construction of Subjects

Marie-Pierre Julien and Céline Rosselin explore the issues at stake in the close physical relationship that people have with objects, proposing that this seemingly quotidian and frequently non-verbal process is a means of constructing human beings as subjects. What is at stake in material culture is not only the production of physical environments by actors but the effects of these environments in shaping people as specific kinds of social entities.

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Editor's Choice

State Islam in Morocco

Kaylee Steck investigates the diversity of state Islam in Morocco, including the ways it manifests across the densely interconnected fields of education, politics, religious practice and religious programming. Given the breadth of these manifestations, Steck argues that Moroccans engage with official religious discourse in different ways, rendering not a uniform experience of Islam, as the state may prefer, but unique and diverse quotidian experiences alongside multiple state Islams with different discourses and iconographies. In doing so, Steck resists the notion of state religion as a coherent set of policies and institutions.

Continue Reading

Material Culture and the Construction of Subjects

Marie-Pierre Julien and Céline Rosselin explore the issues at stake in the close physical relationship that people have with objects, proposing that this seemingly quotidian and frequently non-verbal process is a means of constructing human beings as subjects. What is at stake in material culture is not only the production of physical environments by actors but the effects of these environments in shaping people as specific kinds of social entities.

Continue Reading

Matters of Place: Placing Religion in Film

M. Gail Hamner explores the place of religion in film where, beyond cartography, place is relational: indexed in an at once individual and collective where, what and when. Beyond tracking actual and tangible places such as the Vatican or American West, religion in film is about what she calls affecognitive economies that offer expression for felt if unthought responses to those places. Hamner’s attention to film form, including light and sound, and to the sedimented histories of certain places further offer ways of feeling the violences that not only mark our current world filmicly but that also inundate our daily lived lives.

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Marginal Maps

Samuel Tongue merges book history, marginalia studies, reader usage, cartography, and cultural geography to theorize the inclusion of maps as an example of biblical marginalia in 16th-century printed Bibles. By examining a specific example of a user adding their own marginal map, Tongue focuses on religious, historical and economic forces that undergird their authority, arguing that, for a certain user, these maps produce an imagined ‘Palestine,’ framing the land as stage for a divine history, while also underwriting the ‘truth’ of the biblical texts in a type of cartographical Protestant geopiety.

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Popular Posts

State Islam in Morocco

Kaylee Steck investigates the diversity of state Islam in Morocco, including the ways it manifests across the densely interconnected fields of education, politics, religious practice and religious programming. Given the breadth of these manifestations, Steck argues that Moroccans engage with official religious discourse in different ways, rendering not a uniform experience of Islam, as the state may prefer, but unique and diverse quotidian experiences alongside multiple state Islams with different discourses and iconographies. In doing so, Steck resists the notion of state religion as a coherent set of policies and institutions.

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Flaying the Second Skin: Mormon Underwear and Intersectionality

Dai Newman draws attention to movies in which gay Mormon men engage in their first sexual encounter. In each case, the films include a brief moment of exposing sacred Mormon undergarments on the cusp of erotic contact. Newman considers how the garment is a visible, physical marker of conflicting identities and raises questions about the ability of intersectionality theory to explain the overlap of religion and sexuality.

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Religion and ‘Radiation Culture’: Spirituality in a Post-Chernobyl World

Elena Romashko analyzes how atomic power may be interpreted through the lens of spirituality and mythology as a cultural response. By focusing on the Chernobyl explosion in 1986, she proposes the idea of a ‘radiation culture’ where nuclear radiation has evolved from a purely scientific concept, first observed in the controlled environment of the lab, to a culture with its vivid beliefs and folklore.

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The Magic of Mimesis: A Historically Informed Anthropology of Sympathetic Magic and Contact

 

Raquel Romberg provides an in depth review of magic and mimesis from an anthropological perspective. Drawing on her own exhaustive research into Afro-Latin rituals and Taussig’s “first and second contact”, Romberg turns her post into a reflexive project: a fourth contact that acts as an embodied retelling with its own ethnographic and spiritual ‘power’.

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Clothed with Strength: Meaningful Material Practices in the Sport of CrossFit

Alexander D. Ornella explores the sport of CrossFit as meaningful material practice via the use and display of t-shirts. He provides us with a unique case study and encourages us to look at the domain of sport with new eyes, one where materials, artefacts and practices are simultaneously part of the mundane world but also transcend the ordinary and manifest transformative values.

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On Freedom, Pencils and Material Religion

Jean-Pierre Warnier, reporting from Paris, offers some reflections on Charlie Hebdo and the burgeoning Je Suis Charlie movement. David Morgan builds on Warnier’s comments by considering the humble pencil as means and motive of the events in Paris. What both bring to the forefront is the role that materiality, and, particularly, material religion, play in this confrontation with and affirmation of the democratic process.
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Material Culture

Exploring Aniconism: IAHR 2015 Panel Review

Mikael Aktor reviews the panel he co-organised on Aniconism at the 2015 IAHR World Conference in Erfurt, Germany.

Anicionic objects from different religious traditions together form a broad category of religious material sources. In fact, it seems both too broad and incoherent. It includes clearly recognizable depictions of wheels, fish, phalli, unmanufactured objects and elements in the natural environment such as unwrought stones, trees, rivers and mountains, fashioned objects, such as stelai and logs, as well as empty spaces, such as vacant seats, and empty rooms. While all of these objects are described as ‘aniconic’ at least in some religious traditions, they differ dramatically in their religious agency and manner of mediating divine presence. A South Asian river can be a Hindu goddess, while it is hardly an image of her. Similarly, a black meteorite could be described as Cybele the mother goddess, yet it does not seem to articulate a vision of the divinity’s imagined appearance. At the same time, a river and a stone have markedly different physical and visual relations to their viewers and worshippers as well as the deities to which they are linked. In order to explore the range of aniconism, Mikael Aktor and Milette Gaifman organised a panel at the 21st World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR)to discuss these questions.
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Thoughts on Death and Immortality

Ludwig Feuerbach, the 19th century philosopher and theologian, discusses the modern idea of the soul and immortality in this excerpt from his 1830 book, Thoughts on Death and Immortality. Feuerbach was the original “materialist” in that he felt human existence to be subsumed in the larger existence of nature and society. Philosophical anthropology, the philosophy of the existence and experience of personhood, remained a key theme across all of his work. Feuerbach thought that modern Christianity’s notion of the soul and its immortality was errant. His attempt to ground human existence in the natural world could be seen as one of the earliest attempts to overcome the mind-body dualism that had become entrenched in European religion, through Christianity, and European philosophy, through Descartes. Given Feuerbach’s perspective, a focus on materiality and environment cannot be separate from a philosophical anthropology that supports or denies their significance.

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History and the Claims of Revelation: Joseph Smith and the Materialization of the Golden Plates

Ann Taves reviews the accounts of the golden plates that Joseph Smith discovered and interpreted. In spite of conflicting historical evidence regarding the actuality of the plates, Taves suggests a nuanced approach of skilled perception as a means to resolve the challenges of accepting their reality wholesale or denying their reality and inferring that Smith intentionally misled people. This excerpt reproduces the first two sections of the longer article cited below.

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The ‘Magritte effect’ in the study of religion, Part I and II

In this theoretically rich piece, Jean-Pierre Warnier discusses the entanglement of ‘things’ and their representations.In most religious traditions, this topic plays an important historical role in determining how devotees respond to imagery and materiality, especially as these media convey or embody their most important religious concepts.Cycles of iconophilia and iconoclasm relating to this issue form a central thread in the Abrahamic faiths, for instance.Warnier insists that scholars of religion need to be more circumspect regarding the ‘cognitive gap’ that exists between the praxeological ‘things’ of a religious tradition and the representations of those things.

Non-ordinary Powers: Charisma, Special Affordances and the Study of Religion

Ann Taves presents a rich theoretical work on religious objects. Reviewing Max Weber’s ideas about charisma, J.J. Gibson’s ecological psychology, and a range of other theorists too numerous to mention, Taves produces a novel account, deeply informed by cognitive science, regarding the fascinating roles objects have played in religious traditions.
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