S. Brent PlateApr 24, 2017
Key Terms in Material Religion
In recent years, several scholars of religion have moved away from the examination of discursive textual domains or the meaning of ritual practices towards analyzing the material worlds in which these practices and beliefs exists. S. Brent Plate, Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Hamilton College, has been one of the forerunners of this turn and provides an accessible staring point for novices in Key Terms in Material Religion (Bloomsbury, 2015). The collected set of short essays explores new perspectives on a number of familiar themes that have been historically important within the study of religion, such as belief, magic, fetish, words, sacred, or ritual. The volume also reveals the dominant themes in the field of material religion, such as objects, senses, time and space, and new horizons like sound, smell, and taste. Overall, the authors begin from the perspective that material forms shape how we understand the world and solidify identities through physical performance. In our conversations we discussed the long history of the collection and its beginnings in the Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief, the selection of terms, what we privilege when thinking about material aspects of religion, creative ways to use the text in the classroom, material aesthetics, urban space and religion in the city, prayer as a site of materiality, exhibiting religion in museums, and where young scholars might take new research in material religion.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska Omaha. His research and teaching interests include Theory and Methodology in the Study of Religion, Islamic Studies, Chinese Religions, Human Rights, and Media Studies. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.