This chapter engages material culture in the study of religion. Referring to bodies, objects, and places, material culture in religion is the sacred vitality of things. Rejecting the division between spirit and matter, soul and body, recent research on religion and material culture has attended to the senses, embodied practices, meaningful objects, built environments, and the material possibilities and constraints of technology, with special attention to the communication technology of media. As an entry into the study of religion and material culture, this chapter focuses on the relic and the icon as material objects in religious practice; the fetish in the Atlantic world and the cargo in the Pacific world as focal points for conflicts over about the meaning, power, and value of objects; and the material conditions of religious media, from the senses to audiovisual media, which in their materiality create different capacities and constraints for religion.
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