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Studying Religion in Motion: A Networks Approach

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

This essay offers some theoretical and methodological reflections on how the study of religion might look if we were to assume that complexity, connectivity, and fluidity are preponderant features of our present age, without ignoring the strong countervailing global logics of segregation, surveillance, and control. After characterizing transnational, global, and diasporic modalities of religion in motion, the essay explores the strengths and weaknesses of the analytical tools of flows, landscapes, and networks in the study of mobility. I argue that by placing power front and center, the concept of networks provides a necessary corrective to hydraulic models of flows and spatial metaphors of landscapes. These metaphors tend to overstate the pervasiveness of porous boundaries and movement or to privilege the hermeneutic and phenomenological dimensions of religious activity.

Affiliations: 1: 107 Anderson Hall, P.O. Box 117410, Department of Religion, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-7410, USA


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