This chapter provides an introduction to the book by identifying its basic structure—categories, formations, and circulations. Looking beyond religious studies, not in a temporal but in a spatial sense, this introductory chapter identifies openings for multidisciplinary research and reflection in the study of material religion. The discussion focuses on categories, formations, and circulations—the historical contingency of basic categories of religion, the colonial and imperial forces in formations of religion, and the mobility of materiality in circulations of religion. By attending to these dynamics and highlighting recent publications in the field, this introduction indicates some of the ways in which the “beyond” is already present in the study of religion. The introduction concludes with some guidelines for considering how materiality matters in the study of religion.
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