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Antropologicheskij forum, 2022, no. 55
“MATERIAL RELIGION” AS A METHOD IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY AND THE PROBLEM OF THE RESEARCHER’S ACCESS TO “REAL” RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE (CONCLUSION)
European University at St Petersburg
Abstract: The methods of “material religion” elaborated in social anthropology and the materialistic (Marxist) approach to the study of religious life are methodologically different ways of turning our accustomed understanding upside down: the spiritual activity of Homo religiosus, acting as generating source, produces something material—sacred images, houses of prayer, and objects of worship. The method of material religion involves determining how the culturally specific sensory experience of the individual generates that which is interpreted by this individual, their fellow believers, and external observers—who usually receive accounts of such states in narratives—as actual religious experience. But behind what is read as a replica of the spiritual, disembodied world there is always the work of man, which, however, can be difficult to recognize in this quality. The Marxist materialist perspective, inevitably sharpened critically against religion as a typical ideology, seeks to find a basis for spiritual life in the economic conditions of human existence and society, which in this tradition of understanding human nature, are inevitably linked to labour. These two research traditions, which have the potential to enrich each other, remain in different segments of the academic field. One possible common ground for a collaborative project for these two perspectives is the study of infrastructural aspects of religious life. Another collaborative project could be the very work of social anthropologists who, using their bodies and intellect as their most accessible and potentially inalienable research tool, produce experiences comparable to those of believers and translate them into the terms of social science.
Keywords: material religion, social anthropology method, anthropology of religion, Pentecostals.
Acknowledgemens: The study was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 21-18-00508) <https://rscf.ru/project/21-18-00508/>.
To cite: Shtyrkov S., ‘“Materialnaya religiya” kak metod sotsialnoy antropologii i problema dostupa issledovatelya k “realnomu” religioznomu opytu (zaklyuchenie)’ [“Material Religion” as a Method in Social Anthropology and the Problem of the Researcher’s Access to “Real” Religious Experience (Conclusion)], Antropologicheskij forum, 2022, no. 55, pp. 153–164.
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