Journal Article

What Bodies Know About Religion and the Study of It

Kimerer L. LaMothe

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 76, issue 3, pages 573-601
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
What Bodies Know About Religion and the Study of It

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To advance the project of attending to the bodily dimensions of religious life, scholars must develop ways of acknowledging the role that their own bodily being plays in the study of religious life. One follows the other. Yet, the cast of debates over theory and method in the field hinders such developments. The tendency to think of religious studies as either scientific or interpretive—and the accompanying pressure to resolve the debate to one side or another—reinforces attachment to linguistic methods, models, and metaphors in defending one's position. Such attachment in turn discourages scholars from paying attention to their bodily engagement in the study of religion. This paper argues that scholars, by embracing a tension between “reason” and “experience” as generative of the field, can expand their range beyond text-dominant approaches. This paper demonstrates one direction for doing so, drawing on the case of modern dance to develop a scholarly approach that does justice to what bodies know about religion and the study of it.

Journal Article.  11145 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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