Anthropology of Religious Conversion0742517772, 9780742517776
Description:The Anthropology of Religious Conversion paints a picture of conversion far more complex than its customary image in anthropology and religious studies. Conversion is very seldom simply a sudden moment of insight or inspiration; it is a change both of individual consciousness and of social belonging, of mental attitude and of physical experience, whose unfolding depends both on its cultural setting and on the distinct individuals who undergo it. The book explores religious conversion in a variety of cultural settings and considers how anthropological approaches can help us understand the phenomenon. Fourteen case studies span historical and geographical contexts, including the contemporary United States, modern and medieval Europe, and non-western societies in South Asia, Melanesia, and South America. They discuss conversion to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Spiritualism. Combining ethnographic description with theoretical analysis, authors consider the nature and meaning of conversion, its social and political dimensions, and its relationship to individual religious experience.