Aesthetics of religious authority. Introduction

J.T. Sunier, M. de Witte, M.J.M. de Koning

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This special issue brings together anthropologists in the field of religion with the aim of exploring the aesthetic dimensions of authority in religious leadership.Taking aesthetics to refer to the range of sensory forms and experiences that shape the relation between religious practitioners and leaders, the contributing authors set out to explore the role of aesthetic forms and performative practices in the making of religious authority. What kind of shifts and changes can be observed in religious leadership practices? In what particular situations and encounters is religious leadership produced? What does the use of media do to the nature and diversity of such encounters? What do particular contestations over the public representation of religion reveal with regard to the making of authority and its transformations in recent years? How do novel forms of mediation and authority production speak to registers of authenticity and sincerity? This introduction situates these questions in the context of recent scholarly discussions on aesthetics, mediation, and the senses and outlines three angles from which the authors explore them: (1) changing sources of religious authority, (2) the dynamics of leadership and (3) the anthropology of events.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-125
JournalCulture and Religion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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