The study of religion is a challenge. It means trying to understand the energies and visions that have created, undergirded, and sometimes disrupted the great civilizations and cultures of the world. It means studying the history and diversity of the ways people have shaped worlds of meaning in response to or relation to what they may call the ‘transcendent’, or in response to science and technology, or in response to other traditions of meaning. It means studying the many ways people have given an account of the transcendent and the ways some traditions have gotten along quite well without an understanding of the transcendent. It means studying the symbolic, interpretive, scriptural forms over which traditions of faith and practice have argued through the centuries and continue to argue today. It means studying the construction of words like ‘religion’, ‘faith’, ‘tradition’, ‘theology’, and ‘spirituality’.
Diana L. Eck
Diana L. Eck, John Stratton Hawley, Rahul Mehrotra, and Sondra L. Hausner
Javier Jiménez-Royo, Josh Bullock, Maïa Guillot, Caleb Carter, Evgenia Fotiou, Anna Clot-Garrell, Essi Mäkelä, Andrés Felipe Agudelo, Diana Espírito Santo, Kristina Wirtz, Joana Martins, Jon Bialecki, Joel Robbins, Richard Baxstrom, and Victor Roudometof
CANTÓN-DELGADO, Manuela, et al., Evangelical Gypsies in Spain: “The Bible Is Our Promised Land,” 290 pp., bibliography, index. Lexington Books, 2020. Hardback, $95.00. ISBN 9781498580939.
COTTER, Christopher R., The Critical Study of Non-Religion: Discourse, Identification and Locality, 264 pp., illustrations, notes, references. London: Bloomsbury, 2020. Hardback, $115.00. ISBN 9781350095243.
CUNHA, Ana Stela, and Edemar MIQUETA, dirs., Mandou me chamar, eu vim!, 2021. Documentary film, Portuguese, color, 61 min. Sponsored by IBRAM (Brazilian Institute of Museums) and SYNC Cultural.
DAHL, Shayne, and Satoshi WATANABE, dirs., The Buddha Mummies of North Japan, 2017. Documentary film, color, 20 min. https://www.kanopy.com/product/buddha-mummiesnorth-japan. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/buddhamummies.
FAUSTO, Carlos, Art Effects: Image, Agency, and Ritual in Amazonia, 420 pp., photographs, illustrations, maps, tables, references, index. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2020. Hardback, $80.00. ISBN 9781496220448.
FEDELE, Anna, and Kim E. KNIBBE, eds., Secular Societies, Spiritual Selves? The Gendered Triangle of Religion, Secularity and Spirituality, 254 pp., illustrations, references, index. London: Routledge, 2020. eBook, $49.00. ISBN 9780815349754.
FERARO, Shai, and Ethan DOYLE WHITE, eds., Magic and Witchery in the Modern West: Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of the ‘Triumph of the Moon,’ 278 pp., references, index. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. eBook, $70.00. ISBN 9783030155490.
GARZÓN VALLEJO, Iván, Rebeldes, románticos y profetas: La responsabilidad de sacerdotes, políticos e intelectuales en el conflicto armado colombiano, 212 pp., references. Bogotá: University of La Sabana and Ariel, 2020. Kindle, $4.99. ISBN 9789584287168.
HALPERIN, David J., Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO, 304 pp., illustrations, notes, index. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2020. Hardback, $26.00. ISBN 9781503607088.
OCHOA, Todd Ramón, A Party for Lazarus: Six Generations of Ancestral Devotion in a Cuban Town, 336 pp., notes, bibliography, index. Oakland: University of California Press, 2020. Hardback, $85.00. ISBN 9780520315983.
PALMISANO, Stefania, and Nicola PANNOFINO, Contemporary Spiritualities: Enchanted Worlds of Nature, Wellbeing and Mystery in Italy, 180 pp., figures, tables, references, index. New York: Routledge, 2021. Kindle, $44.00. ISBN 9780429019722.
ROBBINS, Joel, Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life, 208 pp., references, index. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. Hardback, $35.00. ISBN 9780198845041.
SILVIO, Teri, Puppets, Gods, and Brands: Theorizing the Age of Animation from Taiwan, 290 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2019. Paperback, $35.00. ISBN 9780824881160.
YELLE, Robert A., and Lorenz TREIN, eds., Narratives of Disenchantment and Secularization: Critiquing Max Weber’s Idea of Modernity, 272 pp., notes, bibliography, index. London: Bloomsbury, 2021. Hardback, $115.00. ISBN 9781350145641.
Hospitality, Inclusion, and Equality among the Layene of Senegal
Emily Jenan Riley
This article draws on in-depth ethnographic research with the Layene (People of God), a little-studied Sufi Muslim community based in Dakar, the present-day Senegalese capital. My analysis of everyday and ritual performances serves as a way to understand what it means to be Layene, a community guided by particular (re)interpretations of equality, community ethics, and religious practice and discourse. I focus primarily on how the Layene reinterpret the Wolof concept of teraanga (hospitality/prestation) as constituting a kind of ‘radical sharedness’, which is viewed as the ethical foundation of the Layene faith. My study uses ethnographic research with Layene community members, discourse analysis of written and spoken Layene sermons and sikr (invocations of God), and content from Layene community websites to examine how specific ritual performances bring about religious communion as well as social change.
The Language of Western Astrology and the (Tenuous) Bonds of Occult Sociality
This article examines the role of language as a key metaphor and medium of occult sociality among contemporary Western astrologers. I argue that the ‘symbolic language’ attributed to celestial objects and patterns informs everyday speech acts and reinforces shared commitments to the authority of astrological tradition, in the relative absence of conventional structures of belief and belonging. At the same time, the flexibility and versatility of horoscopic symbols authorize diverse and idiosyncratic adaptations, creating patterns of discord and fragmentation often framed as characteristic of the astrology community. I argue that the tension between notions of metaphysical community and professionalization, on the one hand, and the virtues of epistemological individualism and eclecticism, on the other, is a constitutive tension at the heart of Western metaphysical practice. This approach complicates straightforward models of community as consensus, and at the same time challenges common stereotypes about the atomizing effects of alternative spiritualities.
Natalia Buitron and Hans Steinmüller
In one of his last great provocations, Marshall Sahlins describes the ‘original political society’ as a society where supposedly ‘egalitarian’ relations between humans are subordinated to the government of metahuman beings. He argues that this government is ‘a state’, but what kind of state does he mean? Even if metahumans are hierarchically organized and have power over human beings, they lack two capacities commonly attributed to political states: systematic means to make populations legible and coercive means to identity the intentions of others. The nascent forms of state legibility and public mind reading that are present in Sahlins’s original political society are not unified and tied to particular agents. A discussion of the limitations of state and mind legibility points to the fundamental correlations between those two forms of legibility and their co-implication in whatever might be called ‘the state’.
Ontological Transformation among the Makushi
James Andrew Whitaker
This article examines how sociological totemism mediates the co-existence of animism and an emerging naturalism among the Makushi in Surama Village (Guyana) within contexts of interactions with outsiders. Since the 1830s, such contexts have varied from missionization to eco-tourism, which Surama developed in the 1990s and which has since significantly increased. Eco-tourism currently facilitates access to employment, goods, outside knowledge, and international allies in Surama. In the present, villagers seek to fête and propitiate the leaders of outside groups and organizations to ensure the continued provision of these desiderata. Such practices are linked to shamanic relations with the ‘masters’ or ‘owners’ of animals, plants, and other aspects of the landscape. This article argues that these notions of mastery and ownership produce totemic homologies when applied to the intra-social relations of outsiders in Surama. The resulting homologies facilitate the emergence of a nascent naturalism that indicates ongoing ontological transformation in Surama.
Reconstructing Jewish Community through Negotiating Shared Purpose
This article analyzes how congregants in a lay-led Reconstructionist synagogue discursively contest and perform sharedness through active engagement, interpretation, and public disagreements about how to create and sustain Jewish community. I argue that such ‘wrestling with tradition’—that is, questioning, negotiating, and (re)creating traditions in the context of countercultural and eclectic Jewish community—is achieved through collaborative and often conflictual discursive engagement with Jewish tradition. ‘Wrestling with tradition’ does not involve shared beliefs, shared Halakhah (Jewish laws and rituals), or even a shared spiritual practice. Instead, it is in the discursive ‘wrestling’—for example, in debating rather than necessarily following Halakhah—that a communal enactment of sharedness persists in affective and intellectual engagement with Jewish tradition.
Tibetan Buddhist prophecies of decline are largely unattended when it comes to practitioners’ lived experiences. This article considers such narratives through a focus on a community of American Buddhists in California. The relationship between Buddhist narratives of degenerating future and the American landscape is played out through the creation and distribution of sacred objects, which are potent containers for—and portents of—prophetic futures. Ruptures in time and landscape become, through the frame of prophecy, imaginative spaces where the American topography is drawn into Tibetan history and prophetic future. Narratives of decline, this article argues, also find common ground with salient American rhetoric of preparedness and are therefore far from fringe beliefs, but a more widely available way of thinking through quotidian life.
The Elsewhere beyond Religious Concerns
Annalisa Butticci and Amira Mittermaier
We are all connected to multiple Elsewheres: the place(s) where we grew up, the place we would rather be, the places that haunt us, the places where the dead dwell, the sites of empire. Geographical Elsewheres can be a source of fear. In the wake of Europe's so-called migrant crisis and border-crossing pandemic viruses, a moral and racist panic feeds off the supposed collapse of those ‘other places’ into ‘our society’. But other places can also be sites of fascination and longing. Think of the long history of travel accounts, or the long-standing desire to reach beyond the planetary horizon. The dream of a mission to Mars. Anything but the depressing here and now!
Julián Antonio Moraga Riquelme, Leslie E. Sponsel, Katrien Pype, Diana Riboli, Ellen Lewin, Marina Pignatelli, Katherine Swancutt, Alejandra Carreño Calderón, Anastasios Panagiotopoulos, Sergio González Varela, Eugenia Roussou, Juan Javier Rivera Andía, Miho Ishii, Markus Balkenhol, and Marcelo González Gálvez
Andía, Juan Javier Rivera, ed., Non-Humans in Amerindian South America: Ethnographies of Indigenous Cosmologies, Rituals and Songs, 396 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2018. Hardback, $135.00. ISBN 9781789200973.
Cassaniti, J. L., Remembering the Present: Mindfulness in Buddhist Asia, 318 pp., glossary, references, index. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018. Paperback, $27.95. ISBN 9781501709173.
Casselberry, Judith, and Elizabeth A. PRITCHARD, eds., Spirit on the Move: Black Women and Pentecostalism in Africa and the Diaspora, 248 pp. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. Paperback, $25.95. ISBN 9781478000327.
Elison, William, The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai, 336 pp., illustrations, notes, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. Paperback, $35.00. ISBN 9780226494906.
Hackman, Melissa, Desire Work: Ex-Gay and Pentecostal Masculinity in South Africa, 216 pp., illustrations, notes, references, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. Paperback, $24.95. ISBN 9781478000822.
Leite, Naomi, Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging, 344 pp., notes, references, index. Oakland: University of California Press, 2017. $29.95. ISBN 9780520285057.
Li, Geng, Fate Calculation Experts: Diviners Seeking Legitimation in Contemporary China, 158 pp., references, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2019. Hardback, $120.00. ISBN 9781785339943.
Lynch, Rebbeca, The Devil Is Disorder: Bodies, Spirits and Misfortune in a Trinidadian Village, 282 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2020. Hardback, $120.00. ISBN 9781789204872
Matory, J. Lorand, The Fetish Reisited: Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make, 392 pp., illustrations, bibliographical references, index. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. Paperback, $29.95. ISBN 9781478001058.
Pansters, Wil G., ed., La Santa Muerte in Mexico: History, Devotion, and Society, 230 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2019. Hardback, $65.00. ISBN 9780826360816.
Pierini, Emily, Jaguars of the Dawn: Spirit Mediumship in the Brazilian Vale do Amanhecer, 290 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. New York: Berghahn Books, 2020. Hardback, $135.00. ISBN 9781789205657.
Pitarch, Pedro, and José Antonio KELLY, eds., The Culture of Invention in the Americas: Anthropological Experiments with Roy Wagner, 288 pp. Canon Pyon: Sean Kingston Publishing, 2019. Hardback, $90.00. ISBN 9781912385027.
Rambelli, Fabio, ed., Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan: The Invisible Empire, 240 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. Hardback, $153.00. ISBN 9781350097094.
Richman, Karen E., Migration and Vodou, 384 pp., illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2018. Paperback, $28.95. ISBN 9780813064864.
Vitebsky, Piers, Living without the Dead: Loss and Redemption in a Jungle Cosmos, 380 pp., illustrations, glossary, references, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Paperback, $25.00. ISBN 9780226475622.