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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
Edith Turner offers an excerpt from the preface of her book, Communitas: The Anthropology of Collective Joy. In the excerpt, she recounts an incident while doing fieldwork among whale hunters in Alaska when a moment of “collective effervescence” was generated by the community in an effort to influence environmental conditions to better support their whale hunting activities.
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.