UCL Anthropology


The Bodily AND Material Cultures of Religious Subjectivation

23 May 2014


Department of Anthropology, UCL
Date: 17-18 June 2014
Convenors: Urmila Mohan and Jean-Pierre Warnier

Attendance is free and open to the public but registration is required. For registration and further information please email u.mohan.11@ucl.ac.uk.

An African king smears camwood on his wives and children right after a sacrifice to his ancestors (Awing, Cameroon, 1973). Image: JP. Warnier.

Statement of Purpose

There is no known religious practice that does not involve bodily motions (bowing, standing, walking, fasting, feasting, etc.) and their associated emotions, nor the use of given material things (shrines, musical instruments, substances of various kinds). Both involve the sensory apparatus of touch, sight, smell, etc. Without disregarding religious discourses and creeds, the conference will focus on the cultures of religious practice with a strong emphasis on both ethnographic documentation and theoretical elaboration based on a few basic principles -- the importance of Bodily and Material Culture, and Religious Subjectivation involving technologies of the self.

The theme of bodily and material cultures of religion has been explored by the path-breaking publications of the journal Material Religion (see Meyer et Al., 2010). In addition to the various theoretical suggestions published in the Journal, we propose to take into account the publications of the "Matière à Penser" (MàP) network. (see Warnier 2007, 2009, Naji & Douny 2009, Julien & Rosselin eds. 2009). 

Conference Schedule

Participant Bios

Abstracts of Papers

Exhibition Curatorial Note


Conference Poster


  • Julien, M.P. & C. Rosselin (eds.) 2009 .Le Sujet contre les objets… tout contre. Ethnographies de cultures matérielles, Paris, CTHS.
  • Meyer, B., D. Morgan, C. Paine, S. B. Plate, 2010 ."The Origin and Mission of Material Religion", Religion 40: 207-211.
  • Naji, M. & Douny, L. 2009 ."Editorial" in: "Special Issue: 'Making' and 'Doing' the Material World: Anthropology of Techniques revisited", Journal of Material Culture, 14(4): 411-432.
  • Warnier, J.P. 2007 .The Pot-King. The Body and Technologies of Power. Leiden, Boston: Brill.
  • 2009 ."Technology as Efficacious Action on Objects… and Subjects", Journal of Material Culture, 14(4): 459-470.

This event is funded by UCL Anthropology and the Journal of Material Culture. It is organised by UCL Anthropology together with the Interdisciplinary Research Group (GDRI) "Anthropology and Art History" at the Musée du Quai Branly.