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Ordinary Lives and Grand Schemes: An Anthropology of Everyday Religion

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Volume 18

EASA Series

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Ordinary Lives and Grand Schemes

An Anthropology of Everyday Religion

Edited by Samuli Schielke and Liza Debevec

174 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-506-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (June 2012)

ISBN  978-1-78533-199-2 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (April 2016)

eISBN 978-0-85745-507-9 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook! $27.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“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

“Composed of eight ethnographically rich essays… [this] important, trenchant edited volume… offers a decisive intervention into the study of religion in an ‘unfixed’ world by modifying the category of religion with the analytic field of the ‘everyday’.” · American Ethnologist

“This volume is very well put-together. The editors have done a good job to rein in the various authors to a single collective argument… It's an important volume on an important issue.” · Jon Mitchell, University of Sussex

“The topic of everyday religion is becoming an increasingly attractive in the social sciences of religion, as an alternative to more orthodox and canonical accounts of religious phenomena… This volume sets out to debate the concept of ‘everyday religion’ in a very explicit and straightforward manner… The final result is a convincing volume with diverse and challenging case studies that open different paths for the discussion of the main theme.” · Ruy Blanes, Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon


Everyday practice of religion is complex in its nature, ambivalent and at times contradictory. The task of an anthropology of religious practice is therefore precisely to see how people navigate and make sense of that complexity, and what the significance of religious beliefs and practices in a given setting can be. Rather than putting everyday practice and normative doctrine on different analytical planes, the authors argue that the articulation of religious doctrine is also an everyday practice and must be understood as such.

Samuli Schielke is a research fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. His research interests include Islam, festive culture, subjectivity and morality, and migration and aspiration in Egypt.

Liza Debevec is a research fellow at the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts. Her research focuses on the anthropology of everyday life practices in urban Burkina Faso.

Subject: Anthropology of Religion Anthropology (General) Sociology


Samuli Schielke and Liza Debevec

Chapter 1. Divination and Islam: Existential Perspectives in the Study of Ritual and Religious Praxis in Senegal and Gambia
Knut Graw

Chapter 2. Postponing Piety in Urban Burkina Faso: Discussing Ideas on When to Start Acting as a Pious Muslim
Liza Debevec

Chapter 3. Everyday Religion, Ambiguity and Homosocial Relationships in Manitoba, Canada from 1911 to 1949
Alison R. Marshall

Chapter 4. ‘Doing Things Properly’: Religious Aspects in Everyday Sociality in Apiao, Chiloé
Giovanna Bacchiddu

Chapter 5. The Ordinary within the Extraordinary: Sainthood Making and Everyday Religious Practice in Lesvos, Greece
Séverine Rey

Chapter 6. Say a Little Hallo to Padre Pio: Production and Consumption of Space in the Construction of the Sacred at the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie
Evgenia Mesaritou

Chapter 7. Going to the Mulid: Street-smart Spirituality in Egypt
Jennifer Peterson

Chapter 8. Capitalist Ethics and the Spirit of Islamization in Egypt
Samuli Schielke

Afterword: Everyday Religion and the Contemporary World: The Un-Modern, or What Was Supposed to Have Disappeared but Did Not
Robert A. Orsi

Notes on Contributors

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