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date: 27 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Beginning with the material turn in the study of religion, this chapter explores the relevance of the study of materiality in recent developments in the study of religion. The chapter traces the development of the material turn as a response to poststructuralism’s focus on textuality. In contrast to the tradition of the phenomenology of religion, the usefulness of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception leads to a much more productive study of embodiment as a way of materializing the study of religion. This approach works effectively with the study of networks as a way of robustly grounding the study of religion in the configuration of human and non-human agencies. The chapter then turns to three examples of the embodiment of devotion in order to show that material analysis draws attention to the materiality of enacting the presence of saints; the materiality of prayer; and embodiment as a primary medium of religious formation.

Keywords: actor-network theory, embodiment, material turn, materiality, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, phenomenology, prayer, religion, saints, semiotics

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