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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Religious conversion may be approached by paying particular attention to the way in which the experience of conversion is narrated by the converts themselves. Drawing upon case studies of conversion to Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, this chapter distinguishes clearly the life lived in the past by the convert and the life lived in the present by the narrator, paying attention to the way religious conversion is so often presented in the form of narrative and autobiography. Reviewing the theoretical and critical literature in these fields, this chapter shows how conversion narratives may be analyzed as formal systems, political declarations, and ethical rhetoric, and how as autobiographies they may be further studied as eyewitness history, statements of self-identity, and ideological commitments. The chapter concludes by pointing toward the explanatory power of religion as a theoretical category in its own right in ethics and anthropology, as in narrative and autobiographical theory.

Keywords: autobiography, narrative, criticism, theory, ethics, rhetoric, ideology, anthropology, politics, identity

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