This volume presents vernacular religion as contesting and reformulating in pragmatic ways institutional formulations of religion and loci of authority. It draws attention to genres as expressions of belief/alternative knowledge in relation to ‘authority’, including personal experience narratives, ditties, and jokes. These are transmitted through a wide range of vehicles of expression including online, face to face, social media, forums, networks, and conferences, which are shared and shaped communally but individually articulated and actualised.
The volume covers various realms of the supernatural, such as ghosts, spirits, mediumship, magic, energy lines, divinations and previous lives. However, it also discusses beliefs which do not involve the supernatural such as conspiracy theories, politically and ideologically determined creeds, stereotypes and other cases where beliefs appear as socially compelling ideas and challenge prevailing received wisdom. Vernacular religion is therefore examined not only in relation to institutional religion but also to secularism, state sponsored atheism, scientific rationalism and official medicine. Contesting Authority proceeds from the premise that in contrast to institutionally established discourses with monological voicing, the expressive field of vernacular religion is always heteroglot.
Published: Oct 1, 2018