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ReligionMaterial Dynamics$
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David Chidester

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297654

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297654.001.0001

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(p.89) 7 Economy

David Chidester

University of California Press

This chapter explores possibilities for locating religious formations at the intersections of culture and economy. Not solely the preserve of professional economists, economy is a term that has expanded in scope to include economies of signs and desires that generate values beyond the pricing mechanisms of the modern capitalist market. To illustrate how religion can be situated in a cultural economy, this chapter focuses on how one animated film, Destination Earth (1956), sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, serves to illustrate a political economy of the sacred in which the oppression of communist collectivism is opposed to the freedom promised by American free-market capitalism. Viewing this film provides an occasion for highlighting three features of the political economy of the sacred: mediations between economic and sacred values; mediations between economic scarcity and sacred surplus; and mediations among competing claims to legitimate ownership of the sacred.

Keywords:   capitalism, cartoons, cultural economy, economy, ownership of the sacred, political economy, sacred, scarcity, surplus, values

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