Sensual Religion demonstrates the value of paying attention to the senses and materials in lived religion and also leads the way for improved studies of religion as sensuality. Each of the five senses - vision, hearing, taste, touch and smell - will be covered by two chapters, the first historical and the second contemporary. The historical discussions focus on the sensuality of religion in ancient Greece, Samaria, Rome and Byzantium - including reflections on their value for understanding other historical and contemporary contexts. Chapters with a contemporary focus engage with Chinese, African-Brazilian, Sikh, First Nations and Metis, and Spanish Catholic religious lives and activities. Beyond the rich case studies, each chapter offers perspectives and arguments about better ways of approaching lived, material and performative religion - or sensual religion. Historical and ethnographic critical and methodological expertise is presented in ways that will inspire and enable readers to apply, refine and improve on their practice of the study of religions. In particular, our intention is to foreground the senses and sensuality as a critical issue in understanding religion and to radically improve multi- and inter-disciplinary research and teaching about the lived realities of religious people in this sensual world.
About the Author
Graham Harvey is Professor of Religious Studies at the Open University, UK. His research is concerned with the performance and rhetoric of identities among Jews, Pagans and indigenous peoples. He is particularly interested in the new animism, embracing relational and material approaches to interactions between humans and the larger than human world. His recent publications include The Handbook of Contemporary Animism (2013) and Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life (2013). Jessica Hughes is a Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University. She works on material religion, classical reception studies and the cultural history of the Italian region of Campania. She has recently published the monograph Votive Body Parts in Greek and Roman Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and is currently researching material religion and cultural memory at the Catholic Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii.