Reading List: Fall 2013

The course blurb, which clearly differs from the official catalogue description:

What can you learn about religion in Muncie by studying longhaired, naked, dope-smoking, ash-smeared, Hindu renouncers? Or, what about a female Muslim healer? A better question: what can’t you learn about religion in Muncie through looking at radically different religious worlds? These are but two lenses through which to ask, “What is religion, anyway?” “How do these ‘strange worlds’ help us make sense of religious practices in Muncie?” In this class you get to examine religious diversity in Muncie through fieldwork, add new materials to the course website, and learn more about yourself than you ever imagined. And, you do not need any background in Religious Studies to take this course!


I only used three texts this term, in part, to allow for the integration of various articles and book chapters.

Flueckiger, Joyce Burkhalter. 2006. In Amma’s Healing Room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South India. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN: 0-253-21837-3

  • This book has been the hugely popular in every class, so it remains on the list. The prose is wonderful, and Amma’s story is fascinating. Be prepared to have your preconceived notions about Islam radically challenged (or expanded) by this wonderful book!
  • Read more, or order it, here.

Hausner, Sondra L. 2007. Wandering with Sadhus: Ascetics in the Hindu Himalayas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN: 978-0-253-21949-7

I first used this book with a student who was doing an independent study with me. One of my goals in teaching about India is to “de-exoticize” the Orientalist notions so deeply embedded within Westerners’ imaginings of India. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly exotic title of the book. Hausner’s study seeks to “explore the cultural meanings of the material world for the Hindu renouncer community of South Asia” (p. 2). As such, her book raises numerous important issues for the study of religion and culture.

  • Read more, or order it, here.

Spickard, James V., J Shawn Landres, and Meredith B. McGuire, eds. 2002. Personal Knowledge and Beyond: Reshaping the Ethnography of Religion. New York: NYU Press. [ISBN: 0-8147-9803-9]

This is another text that I always use. It contains essays by sociologists and anthropologists, who share very “personal” accounts of how their work has changed them in profound ways. Often, when students complete this course, they say, “This course is actually about becoming an ethnographer.” In combination with their own fieldwork projects, this text plays a key role in helping students become ethnographers.

  • Read more, or order it, here.

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