chapter  1
19 Pages

Material analysis and the study of religion

WithDavid Morgan

Discussion of the materiality of religion has become more common in years, resulting in a host of instructive studies ranging from the production and reception of objects, images, spaces, clothing and food to the study of practices, the senses and the history of thought about them. A key analytical theme to understand in the study of production is the concept of affordance. The affordances of medium, manufacture and display tell us a great deal about the effect and intention of an object, and may illuminate a great deal about its reception by suggesting how an object may appeal to users and the marketplace. Material analysis commences with scrutiny of an object's medium. The definitive value of material analysis depends heavily on the construction of an archive for purposes of comparison. An archive illuminates the genealogy of family resemblances, revealing important information about where a thing comes from and why it takes the shape it does.