Over the past decade, scholarly inquiry into contemporary religion has moved from an understanding of religion as waning in the face of ongoing secularization toward a focus on the mutual constitution and interaction of religious and secular that underpins both the ideology of secularism and modern religiosity. This has produced pathbreaking research into the dynamics of religious transformation and generated deeper insights into the relation between religion and modernity. Importantly, these insights yield a new theoretical standpoint that transcends secularist ideologies according to which religion is bound to disappear—or at least to retreat into the private sphere—yet at the same time makes these ideologies subject to investigation. The fact that public debates about the so-called resurgence of religion often affirm the fault lines between “religious” and “secular” positions testifies to the fruitfulness of this new standpoint.Read the rest of Secularization and disenchantment.
Birgit Meyer is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, and currently a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She is the author of Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity Among the Ewe in Ghana (Africa World Press, 1999) and the editor of numerous volumes, most recently, Aesthetic Formations. Religion, Media and the Senses (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
Posts by Birgit Meyer:
The salience of ideas and practices that emphasize rupture from previous social settings and modes of thought should not blind us to the fact that Pentecostalism arises as a new social-aesthetic formation. Next to the indeed remarkable emphasis placed on rupture and newness, as well as on the possibility of miraculous divine intervention in Pentecostal accounts, we should not overlook that Pentecostal religiosity also entails authorized and socially shared practices and techniques that are required for the event of divine intervention to occur. In other words, the call for a “break with the past,” deliverance from “evil spirits,” taking “Christ as personal savior,” being “born again” and “filled with the Holy Spirit,” all of which emphasize newness, rupture, and an immediate encounter with the divine, is voiced—over and over again—in an established manner that is characteristic of Pentecostal religiosity.Read the rest of The indispensability of form.