Journal Article

Body, Society, and Subjectivity in Religious Studies

Constance M. Furey

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 80, issue 1, pages 7-33
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Body, Society, and Subjectivity in Religious Studies

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Attention to bodies has transformed the study of religion in the past thirty years, aiding the effort to overcome the discipline's Protestant biases by shifting interest from beliefs to practices. And yet much of this work has unwittingly perpetuated an individualist notion of the religious subject. Although religionists are now well aware that bodies cannot be studied apart from the social forces that shape them, all too often the religious subject stands alone in a crowd, participating in communal rituals, subject to religious authorities and disciplinary practices, but oddly detached from intimate relationships. In this article, I first argue that the turn to the body was motivated by what it appeared to reject: theoretical questions about subjectivity. I then seek to challenge prevailing trends by arguing that these same theoretical insights should now prod us to attend to the import of intimacy and personal relationships.

Journal Article.  8760 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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