HAU

Touching conversion: Tangible transformations in a Japanese new religion. The 2010 RAI Curl Essay Prize

Philip Swift

Abstract


This article aims to explore the concept of conversion by means of the transformative practices of Mahikari, a Japanese new religion. Examining current theories in the sociology of conversion, it argues that the epistemological preoccupations of the latter are inadequate for an understanding of conversion as transformation. Instead, an ontological approach is recommended in which Mahikari conversions show up as visceral, sensuous transitions, mediated through touch. In conclusion, the article attempts an anthropological critique of the sociology of religion’s turn away from religion.

 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau2.1.013