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Religion on the EdgeDe-centering and Re-centering the Sociology of Religion$
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Courtney Bender, Wendy Cadge, Peggy Levitt, and David Smilde

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199938629

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199938629.001.0001

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Religious Self-Constitution: A Relational Perspective

Religious Self-Constitution: A Relational Perspective

(p.92) 4 Religious Self-Constitution: A Relational Perspective
Religion on the Edge

Michal Pagis

Oxford University Press

This chapter promotes an understanding of religious self-constitution as a relational and embodied process. The aim is to de-center the emphasis on belief in the commonly used category of the religious self and re-center it on an approach that studies the self as an embodied process contextualized in ongoing social relations. The chapter explores three dimensions of the embodied space in which religious selves develop: the importance of collective practice, the relation to the body, and the engagement with the material environment. Examples are provided from ethnographic research on the practice of Vipassana meditation, a Theravada Buddhist meditation of mindfulness. These examples are further supported by references to ethnographic studies that explore other religious practices such as Muslim fasting or Christian prayer.

Keywords:   religious self, social relations, collective practice, body, material environment, Vipassana meditation, Theravada Buddhist meditation, ethnographic studies

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