Belief or experience? The anthropologist's dilemma

Bowie, Fiona (2005) Belief or experience? The anthropologist's dilemma. Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre. ISBN 9780906165447

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As an anthropologist who studies the religious beliefs and practices of others, I have long pondered the role that my own religious experience plays in my work, and I am similarly curious concerning the relationship between personal belief and practice and the anthropological study of religion in the work of my contemporaries. What follows is a reflection of these interests. I attempt to survey some current anthropological approaches to religion in the context of current intellectual trends, particularly in the fields of the philosophy of language, postmodernism and science, while at the same time advancing an argument for the distinctiveness of ethnographic fieldwork as a methodological tool that can give a unique and immensely valuable insight in to the nature of religion as a social fact. This rests on the premise that the embodied encounter between the anthropologist and the ‘other’, who becomes an object of study, combines internal experience and reflexivity in a way that has the potential for successful and honest cultural translation, through recognition of the essentially dialogical and contextual nature of knowledge.

Item Type: Book
Additional Information: Series: RERC Second Series Occasional Papers;33.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Experience (Religion)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Divisions: Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre > Second Series of Occasional Papers
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Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2014 12:57
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2016 13:12

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