Antropologicheskij forum, 2022, no. 55


A Review of T. M. LUHRMANN, HOW GOD BECOMES REAL: KINDLING THE PRESENCE OF INVISIBLE OTHERS. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020, XV+235 pp.

Marie Masagutova

European University at St Petersburg
6/1А Gagarinskaya Str., St Petersburg, Russia

Abstract: Tanya Luhrmann’s new book is a great example of an academic text turning into a bestseller. The book, based on many years of fieldwork, addresses the issue of faith. The author argues that faith is not given and predefined, and instead should be seen as a long and complicated process of “real-making”—the individual’s effort to build up social relationships with the invisible Others. Throughout the chapters, the author consequently develops her argumentation, advancing from the thesis about the difference between the reality of material objects and spiritual beings to the proposition that interaction with supernatural actors changes people and their lives. The author reflects on the importance of a detailed narrative of the imaginary or invisible world (whether spiritual or fictional) in order to experience it as real, demonstrates the role of innate and kindled qualities for the perception of the religious experience, and explores the specificity of the prayer state and the signs which people perceive as a response from a supernatural actor. The review discusses the specificity of the author’s approach to the analysis and the research question itself, highlighting some possible subjects as a material which could productively complement Luhrmann’s analysis.

Keywords: anthropology of religion, cognitive anthropology, supernatural agents.

To cite: Masagutova M., ‘A Review of T. M. Luhrmann, How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020, XV+235 pp.’, Antropologicheskij forum, 2022, no. 55, pp. 355–371.

doi: 10.31250/1815-8870-2022-18-55-355-371