An anthropology of religious experience: spirituality, gender and cultural transmission in the Focolare movement

F Bowie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

The manner in which a religious culture is transmitted and internalised defies conventional ethnographic description. Exterior forms of behaviour, articulated expressions of motivation, observable rules and appearances can be described, but the interior, ascetic dimensions of the experience are less amenable to observation and analysis. In this study the author uses Mauss's notion of habitus, the learned bodily techniques that often appear natural, to discuss some of the ways in which the culture of the Focolare Movement is transmitted to its members. As a member of the Focolare, the author has internalised many aspects of Focolare religious culture, and uses reflexive experience to discuss the methodological issues surrounding spiritual relationships with informants. The article also discusses the importance of a gender-specific analysis and the consequences of doing 'anthropology at home' in a supposedly alien fieldwork setting, that of the Focolare permanent Mariapolis at Fontem in South West Cameroon.
Translated title of the contributionAn anthropology of religious experience: spirituality, gender and cultural transmission in the Focolare movement
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49 - 72
Number of pages24
JournalEthnos
Volume68 (1)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Routledge

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