Vernacular Religion in Everyday Life: Expressions of Belief

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-08-21
  • Publisher: Routledge

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This collection of articles is intended for scholars and students of ethnology, folkloristics, religious studies, anthropology, area studies, theology and cultural research. It argues that greater understanding of the concept of vernacular religion and broader usage of genres (as employed in ethnology and folkloristics) could produce more nuanced understanding of religious beliefs and practices and a more sophisticated scholarly lexicon for the study of religion. Vernacular religion refers to "religion as it is lived: as human beings encounter, understand, interpret, and practice it" (Primiano 1995). Vernacular religion implies a system of beliefs that shapes the everyday culture of groups and individual and is expressed in both verbal and non-verbal forms. It challenges traditional scholarly boundaries between 'official' and 'folk' religiosity. Genre as a concept has been used to categorize various forms of literature, arts and culture. In this book, genres are defined and utilised from the folkloristic perspective as forms of expression and interpretive strategies that develop in daily communication and performance situations. Written, performative and oral genres represent and express multiple world views, modalities and attitudes, encompassing ways of seeing, being in and acting relationally towards the world that weave together different strands of tradition, culture and experience in an integrative manner for the individual both within and beyond traditional forms of religion. In order to exemplify both the concept of vernacular religion and the utility of genres as a tool for both describing and interpreting expressions of belief, the book examines vernacular religion in a variety of social, national and individual contexts from the 19th to 21st century. It demonstrates a considerable degree of continuity in form and function of genres employed, and the persistence of certain topics, while exemplifying the extent to which the influence of globalisation is endemic in contemporary culture. The book discusses expressions of belief in different Christian denominations and also in the contexts of indigenous religion, the New Age and contemporary spirituality. Bringing together articles of different research traditions and disciplines from around the world, it offers an insightful and inspiring set of case studies and theoretical discussions. As the articles are based mostly on field research, there is considerable original content and one of the strongest aspects of the book is the extent it will bring to Anglophone audiences case studies and examples of scholarly literature from a variety of European language and research traditions.

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