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Material Culture of Religion


I have long been interested in the many everyday activities—involving built spaces, food, language and even medical discards—through which people shape and perceive their religious commitments. Therefore, I have often found myself dwelling in spaces thought to be marginal to the “real centers” of religious engagement, often meaning houses of worship or of textual and liturgical authority. Through this work, I am particularly interested in challenging dominant, Euro-centric Protestant notions of what constitutes religion and, especially, authoritative views of “correct” practice or interpretation that structure power hierarchies within religious communities. I am fascinated by the ways in which people experience their religious engagements through the material stuff of everyday life, and how those seemingly mundane, insignificant things can become the basis for deep ruminations on important moral problems, from the boundaries of the seen/unseen to the actions necessary to address human inequality.

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