Publikationsserver der Universitätsbibliothek Marburg

Titel:Afterlife of Fetish: ‘Liminal Ethnography’ in the Study of Religion/s
Autor:Appiah , Simon Kofi (Dr.)
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:04-es2022-00099
DDC:200 Religion, Religionsphilosophie


materiality, fetish, ethnography, liminality

The idea of studying religion/s from the material perspective has quickly gained importance, becoming one of the currently favored approaches in the discipline. At the onset of the study of religion/s, however, religious materials were characterized as fetish, a concept which, unfortunately, gained notoriety for representing everything wrong about (knowledge regarding) religion, especially, in Africa. However, with the rise of the material approach in the study of religion/s, the concept of fetish is being rehabilitated as a productive research approach. In this concept paper, I propose that the aim of scholars to improve knowledge production about religion/s by interpreting the relationship between religious materials and their users is better served by paying close attention to the subjectivity of religious materials (read fetish). I argue that the consideration of fetishes as active and living subjects (Hazard 2013), a thoroughly African view of religious materials, provides a curious intersection between the cultural other (positionality) and the epistemological other (liminality) in research. Liminality transforms the emic-etic binary into a threshold of an outsider-insider nexus and initiates a paradigm shift from “positional” to “liminal ethnography” in the study of religions. This shift is necessary for unpacking the pulsating and multi-dimensional layers of relations that religious materials evoke.

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