- Copyright Page
- List of Contributors
- Words or Things in American History?
- Artifacts and Their Functions
- Mastery, Artifice, and the Natural Order: A Jewel from the Early Modern Pearl Industry
- Food and Cognition: <i>Henry Norwood’s</i> A Voyage to Virginia
- On Pins and Needles: Straight Pins, Safety Pins, and Spectacularity
- Mind, Time, and Material Engagement
- Material Time
- Remaking the Kitchen, 1800–1850
- Boston Electric: Science by “Mail Order” and Bricolage at Colonial Harvard
- Making Knowledge Claims in the Eighteenth-Century British Museum
- The Ever-Changing Technology and Significance of Silk on the Silk Road
- Science, Play, and the Material Culture of Twentieth-Century American Boyhood
- The Sensory Web of Vision: Enchantment and Agency in Religious Material Culture
- Sensiotics, or the Study of the Senses in Material Culture and History in Africa and Beyond
- The Numinous Body and the Symbolism of Human Remains
- Symbolic Things and Social Performance: Christmas Nativity Scenes in Late Nineteenth-Century Santiago de Chile
- Heritage Religion and the Mormons
- From Confiscation to Collection: The Objects of China’s Cultural Revolution
- Persons and Things in Marseille and Lucca, 1300–1450
- Cloth and the Rituals of Encounter in La Florida: Weaving and Unraveling the Code
- Street “Luxuries”: Food Hawking in Early Modern Rome
- Ebony and Ivory: Pianos, People, Property, and Freedom on the Plantation, 1861–1870
- The Material Culture of Furniture Production in the British Colonies
- Material Culture, Museums, and the Creation of Multiple Meanings
- Chronology and Time: Northern European Coastal Settlements and Societies, c. 500–1050
- Materialities in the Making of World Histories: South Asia and the South Pacific
- Mapping History in Clay and Skin: Strategies for Remembrance among Ga’ anda of Northeastern Nigeria
- Remember Me: Sensibility and the Sacred in Early Mormonism
- Housing History: The Colonial Revival as Consumer Culture
- Collecting as Historical Practice and the Conundrum of the Unmoored Object
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter teases out the various ways that religion intersects with historical material culture to create “heritage religion.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains a series of “historic sites” across the United States. Like nonreligious historic sites, Latter-day Saint sites use material culture, historic re-enactments, educational videos, and sophisticated media technology to teach visitors about sacred places and histories. However, Latter-day Saint historic sites have the additional mission to spiritually uplift members and convert nonbelievers. By using recently renovated Mormon Battalion Historic site of San Diego as a case study, this chapter illustrates how the secular “heritage industry” and traditional religion merge to become “heritage religion.” Heritage religion is defined as a set of generic religious beliefs, cast into the past, and translated into media and material culture. Through heritage religion, faith communities use the past to make sense out of their present and craft an agenda for the future. “Heritage Religion and the Mormons” illustrates how a specific historic site can be constructed to convince visitors that they can easily understand the past because they share similar values and mutual struggles. Through material culture, history is made familiar and the complexities of interpretation fall away. Through heritage religion, church leaders for the Latter-day Saints can reinforce religious practices that resonate with wider American values and beliefs.
Colleen McDannell is Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Utah.
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