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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces material studies, a theoretical field rooted in performance studies, embodiment phenomenology, critical theory and post-functionalist anthropology. It lays out central analytical points and presents four approaches that can be used in the study of NRMs: 1) material mediation – the process by which objects and bodies are transformed into mediators of the otherworldly; 2) material socialization – how practitioners learn religion by acquiring correct ways of relating to objects and material worlds; 3) circulation of artifacts – how religious objects are produced, distributed and used; and 4) foodways – the process where food and drink is cultivated, prepared and consumed, and its importance for the cultivation of religious communities. The chapter includes an example of how material theory can be applied, and a discussion of how such perspectives can contribute to, and further, the study of new religions.

Keywords: materiality, religious objects, the body, food, object circulation

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