Religious Self-Constitution: A Relational Perspective

Michal Pagis

in Religion on the Edge

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199938629
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980758 | DOI:
Religious Self-Constitution: A Relational Perspective

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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

Chapter.  10910 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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