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Picturing the Invisible

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Visual Culture and the Study of Religion

image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

An understanding of religion as a practice of mediation has great potential to open up new methods and theories for a critical study of religion. Leading beyond the privileged medium of the text, this understanding approaches religion as a multi-media phenomenon that mobilizes the full sensorium. The central point of this article is that forms of visual culture are a prime medium of religion, and studying them offers deep insights into the genesis of worlds of lived experience. Pictorial media streamline and sustain religious notions of the visible and the invisible and involve embodied practices of seeing that shape what and how people see. Discussing the implications of the “pictorial turn” for the study of religion, I argue that a more synthesized approach is needed that draws these fields together. The methodological and theoretical implications of this approach are exemplified by turning to my research on video and representations of the “spiritual” in Southern Ghana.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University


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