Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, Vol 26, No 3 (2013)

Vibrant Sacralities and Nonhuman Animacies: The Matter of New Materialism and Material Religion

George Ioannides
Issued Date: 24 Feb 2014


This article addresses the complex and contentious associations between the study of religion, materialism, and nonhuman materialities. Acknowledging the revaluation of religious material culture, and the reconguration of the relations between religion and materialism, it is argued that the utility of such theoretical and methodological manoeuvres would be better served by thinking through the work of the ‘new materialisms’, which engage the question of matter and the material through posthumanist and anti-anthro-pocentric positionalities that are at times absent from the study of material religion. In so doing, this article analyses the potentialities and limitations of the religious materialism of Manuel Vásquez, placing it alongside the theory of new materialism and the representative work of Jane Bennett. Such interventions are then thought with and through a recongured sense of ‘animism,’ both as a means with which to differently ontologise nonhuman material agency, and to posit an approach to these topics that might be labelled a ‘new materialist religious animacy’. Ultimately, it is averred that such a theoretically entangled exploration of the above elds and concepts is important for the examination of religious phenomena alongside the self-generativity and recalcitrance of (religious) materiality, both human and nonhuman in kind.

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DOI: 10.1558/jasr.v26i3.234


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