This paper argues that the “material turn” evident both in recent scholarly studies of East Asian religion (and religious studies more generally) and within the discipline of anthropology holds great promise for the study of Korean religions. The study of material religion raises questions about how aspects of the material world come to be regarded as sacred, how they come to be regarded as empowered and agentive things, how devotees engage material religion through embodied practice and visual regimes of understanding and venerating, and how specific historic moments influence material religion. Anthropology brings to the discussion an awareness of material objects as possible nodes of human relationships, relationships between humans and gods or other entities, and between humans, deities, positive and negative power, and the sacred things themselves. It raises questions about the production, maintenance, and proper disposal of sacred objects. It also brings magic back into the mix as a means of understanding some of the essentially religious ways contemporary people contend with the quirkiness of the market and other uncertainties, and how the modern commodity market itself accommodates the production, appropriation, and consumption of sacred and magical goods.


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pp. 93-116
Launched on MUSE
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