The Anthropology of Religious Conversion

ISBN 13: 9780742517783

The Anthropology of Religious Conversion

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9780742517783: The Anthropology of Religious Conversion

The Anthropology of Religious Conversion paints a picture of conversion far more complex than its customary image in anthropology and religious studies. Conversion is very seldom simply a sudden moment of insight or inspiration; it is a change both of individual consciousness and of social belonging, of mental attitude and of physical experience, whose unfolding depends both on its cultural setting and on the distinct individuals who undergo it. The book explores religious conversion in a variety of cultural settings and considers how anthropological approaches can help us understand the phenomenon. Fourteen case studies span historical and geographical contexts, including the contemporary United States, modern and medieval Europe, and non-western societies in South Asia, Melanesia, and South America. They discuss conversion to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Spiritualism. Combining ethnographic description with theoretical analysis, authors consider the nature and meaning of conversion, its social and political dimensions, and its relationship to individual religious experience.

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About the Author:

Andrew Buckser is an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University. Stephen D. Glazier is a professor of anthropology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


This is a most welcome book. In it anthropologists, Christian and non-Christian, do deep, sympathetic studies of religious conversion, both individual and corporate, to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Spiritism, and Rastafarianism. The do what anthropologists do best―give us thick descriptions of conversion from the perspectives of converts themselves. . . In these penetrating studies, the authors show us by way of ethnographic detail the complex intertwining of personal, social, cultural, and spiritual factors that are involved. (International Bulletin of Mission Research)

A good cross-section of the "new" anthropological writings on religious change. (Reviews in Anthropology)

A very interesting range of comparisons . . . . Succeeds admirably in its goal of offering nuanced ethnographies of conversion as a multileveled social process. (Journal of Anthropological Research)

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