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World Religion Day 2016

World Religion Day is an interfaith observance initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, celebrated worldwide on the third Sunday in January each year. Though initiated in the United States, World Religion Day has come to be celebrated internationally.


In keeping with this initiative we are offering a 25% discount on all Berghahn Religious Studies titles for the next 30 days. At checkout, simply enter the code WRD16.


A full selection of titles from Berghahn can be found on our website.



Jewish Perspectives on the Nazarene
Walter Homolka
Translated by Ingrid Shafer
Foreword by Leonard Swidler


After centuries of persecution, oppression, forced migrations, and exclusion in the name of Christ, the development of a Jewish “Quest for the Historical Jesus” might seem unexpected. This book gives an overview and analysis of the various Jewish perspectives on the Nazarene throughout the centuries, emphasizing the variety of German voices in Anglo-American contexts. It explores the reasons for a steady increase in Jewish interest in Jesus since the end of the eighteenth century, arguing that this growth had a strategic goal: the justification of Judaism as a living faith alongside Christianity.

Read Introduction: The Life of Jesus according to the Sources



Anthropological Insights into Reason and Unreason
Edited by Carles Salazar and Joan Bestard


The relationships between science and religion are about to enter a new phase in our contemporary world, as scientific knowledge has become increasingly relevant in ordinary life, beyond the institutional public spaces where it traditionally developed. The purpose of this volume is to analyze the relationships, possible articulations and contradictions between religion and science as forms of life: ways of engaging human experience that originate in particular social and cultural formations. Contributions use this theoretical and ethnographic research to explore different scientific and religious cultures in the contemporary world.

Read Introduction: Science, Religion and Forms of Life



Religious Revolution and the Seasonality of Power
Jeffrey Sissons

Volume 5, ASAO Studies in Pacific Anthropology


Within little more than ten years in the early nineteenth century, inhabitants of Tahiti, Hawaii and fifteen other closely related societies destroyed or desecrated all of their temples and most of their god-images. In the aftermath of the explosive event, which Sissons terms the Polynesian Iconoclasm, hundreds of architecturally innovative churches — one the size of two football fields — were constructed. At the same time, Christian leaders introduced oppressive laws and courts, which the youth resisted through seasonal displays of revelry and tattooing. Seeking an answer to why this event occurred in the way that it did, this book introduces and demonstrates an alternative “practice history” that draws on the work of Marshall Sahlins and employs Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, improvisation and practical logic.




Ideologies of Place, Time and Belonging in an Angolan Religious Movement
Ruy Llera Blanes


Combining ethnographic and historical research conducted in Angola, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, A Prophetic Trajectory tells the story of Simão Toko, the founder and leader of one of the most important contemporary Angolan religious movements. The book explains the historical, ethnic, spiritual, and identity transformations observed within the movement, and debates the politics of remembrance and heritage left behind after Toko’s passing in 1984. Ultimately, it questions the categories of prophetism and charisma, as well as the intersections between mobility, memory, and belonging in the Atlantic Lusophone sphere.




Anthropological Approaches
Edited by David Berliner and Ramon Sarró

Volume 17, Methodology & History in Anthropology


As we enter the 21st century, it becomes increasingly difficult to envisage a world detached from religion or an anthropology blind to its study. Yet, how people become religious is still poorly studied. This volume gathers some of the most distinguished scholars in the field to offer a new perspective for the study of religion, one that examines the works of transmission and innovation through the prism of learning. They argue that religious culture is socially and dynamically constructed by agents who are not mere passive recipients but engaged in active learning processes. Finding a middle way between the social and the cognitive, they see learning religions not as a mechanism of “downloading” but also as a social process with its relational dimension.

Read Chapter 1. On Learning Religion: An Introduction



New in Paperback!


The Politics and Pragmatics of Intercommunal Relations around Holy Places
Edited by Glenn Bowman


“Using ethnographic and historical approaches, the chapters in this book show that [contrary to what is often believed] religious spaces are frequently peacefully shared by different religious groups…and reveal how inter-faith and inter-religious discursive formations are believers, state officials, and transnational institutions. Thus the volume provides important theoretical and methodological tools for an anthropology of inter-religious relations.” · Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“Overall, this is an excellent contribution to the growing literature on shared sacred places. It shows what a carefully constructed edited volume can achieve in an academic world where researchers are under increasing pressure to only seek publication in journals with high global exposure. It also engages with a crucial issue in a world where religion has not retreated to the private sphere – the ability of pilgrims and others to co-exist at the same highly charged place.” · Anthropological Notebook

Read Introduction: Sharing the Sacra


Edited by Jarrett Zigon


“In this volume, the discussion of multiple moralities, religions and secularisms is put forth by multiple voices of researchers as well…representing different levels of ethnographic intimacy and theoretical engagement. While this disparity could end up as a flaw, as often happens with edited volumes, in this case it complements well the complexity of the moral worlds of informants and heterogeneity of local moral discourses … This volume also enriches the study of secularism, religion and morality in post-Soviet studies and beyond.” · Social Analysis

“This collection includes an impressive roster of contributors in order to offer a multitude of analyses that specifically address the relationship between morality and religion in post-Soviet Russia…As a whole, this volume unquestionably enriches the contemporary understanding of post-Soviet Russia. It also adds to a growing concern with the articulation of a contemporary anthropology of morality.” · Journal of Contemporary Religion




Forthcoming in Paperback!

From Qur’anic Tradition to Jihadist Inspiration
Iain R. Edgar


“The book stands out as noteworthy in one respect especially, because the author goes beyond the continual struggle between orientalists and anti-orientalists. One consequence of defining Islamic studies within this vicious circle is that a majority of the current generation of Islamic historians believes that the study of Arabic legal, theological or historical texts from the eighth to the nineteenth centuries is good enough to define ‘native’ Islamic civilisation. Edgar deconstructs that old approach, and brings to the task considerable expertise in social science methodology. Subsequent case studies on dream narratives will benefit immensely from his imagination-based research methods.” · Political Studies Review

“Edgar has brought to light a genuinely important phenomenon with potentially major consequences.” · Journal of Anthropological Research



An Anthropology of Everyday Religion
Edited by Samuli Schielke and Liza Debevec

Volume 18, EASA Series


“The great merit of this book consists in taking the practices of the people “on the ground” into account. It thereby addresses a gap: the moments when grand schemes and daily practices come together, often in contradiction or in complex and open ways… a compelling and inspirational volume.” · Allegra Laboratory

“Anthropologists will find many valuable references and many useful ideas and models for future research. As part of an expanding literature on the everyday, the collected essays suggest the advances still to be made by applying the notion of ‘vernacular’ or ‘popular’ to religion and to culture more generally.” · Anthropology Review Database






Advances in Research


Religion and Society responds to the need for a rigorous, in-depth review of current work in the expanding sub-discipline of the anthropology of religion. In addition, this important, peer-reviewed annual aims to provide a dynamic snapshot of developments in the study of religion as a whole and encourages interdisciplinary perspectives.


Religion and Society: Portraits Special Virtual Issue
Each volume contains a Portrait section that profiles a senior scholar of religion, with invited essays on the scholar’s work by authorities in their respective subfields. This special virtual issue is compiled of a selection of these Portraits.




The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice 


Social Analysis has long been at the forefront of anthropology’s engagement with the humanities and other social sciences. In forming a critical, concerned, and empirical perspective, it encourages contributions that break away from the disciplinary bounds of anthropology and suggest innovative ways of challenging hegemonic paradigms through “grounded theory,” analysis based in original empirical research.


Read a Series of Blog Posts from Contributors to the Magic and Religion Issue