Religion: Material Dynamics is a lively resource for thinking about religious materiality and the material study of religion. Deconstructing and reconstructing religion as material categories, social formations, and mobile circulations, the book explores the making, ordering, and circulating of religious things. The book is divided into three sections: Part One revitalizes basic categories—animism and sacred, space and time—by situating them in their material production and testing their analytical viability. Part Two examines religious formations as configurations of power that operate in material cultures and cultural economies and are most clearly shown in the power relations of colonialism and imperialism. Part Three explores the material dynamics of circulation through case studies of religious mobility, change, and diffusion as intimate as the body and as vast as the oceans. Each chapter offers insightful orientations and surprising possibilities for studying material religion. Exploring the material dynamics of religion from poetics to politics, David Chidester provides an entry into the study of material religion that will be welcomed by students and specialists in religious studies, anthropology, and history.
David Chidester is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His recent books include Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture, Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa, and Empire of Religion: Imperialism and Comparative Religion.
"This book is a master course in the imagination of matter. Playful, smart, analogical, funny, David Chidester engages what Clifford Geertz once called a social history of the imagination. Rather than offer a synthesis of the 'new materialism' (as it has come to be called), Chidester suggests that Religious Studies has been doing the new materialism since its inception."—John Modern, Professor of Religious Studies, Franklin & Marshall College
"As one might expect from David Chidester's scholarship, this book is another intelligent, creative approach to the study of religion. Certain elements that have been part of his work for years find their way here into a very mature working out of the components of the contemporary study of religion. Chidester advances a particular materiality of religion yet goes further by making materiality central to understanding the construction of religious systems themselves."—S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate, Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College