Material culture has emerged in recent decades as a significant theoretical concern for the study of religion. This book contributes to and evaluates this material turn, presenting thirteen chapters of new empirical research and theoretical reflection from some of the leading international scholars of material religion. Following a model for material analysis proposed in the first chapter by David Morgan, the contributors trace the life cycle of religious materiality through three phases: the production of religious objects, their classification as religious (or non-religious), and their circulation and use in material culture.

The chapters in this volume consider how objects become and cease to be sacred, how materiality can be used to contest access to public space and resources, and how religion is embodied and performed by individuals in their everyday lives. Contributors discuss the significance of the materiality of religion across different religious traditions and diverse geographical regions, paying close attention to gender, age, ethnicity, memory and politics. The volume closes with an afterword by Manuel Vásquez.

chapter |13 pages


The body of St Cuthbert

part 1|67 pages


chapter 2|17 pages

From production to performance

Candles, creativity and connectivity

chapter 3|15 pages

Blessed food from Jalarām’s kitchen

Narrative, continuity and service among Jalarām Bāpā devotees in London

chapter 4|18 pages

Music and materialism

The emergence of alternative Muslim lifestyle cultures in Britain

chapter 5|15 pages

Augmented graves and virtual Bibles

Digital media and material religion

part 2|65 pages


chapter 6|16 pages

Art works

A relational rather than representational understanding of art and buildings 1

chapter 7|14 pages

Im/material objects

Relics, gestured signs and the substance of the immaterial

chapter 8|18 pages

‘An altar inside a circle’

A relational model for investigating green Christians’ experiments with sacred space

part 3|68 pages


chapter 11|18 pages

Religion materialised in the everyday

Young people’s attitudes towards material expressions of religion

chapter 12|16 pages

Mobilising Mecca

Reassembling blessings at the museum

chapter 13|16 pages

Matter challenging words

From ‘angel talisman’ to ‘prayer ornament’