Anthropology of Religion

[Working Group]

Coordination: Anna Fedele

Religious phenomena have been not just of central concern to anthropology since the discipline’s inception, but central to its philosophical constitution. From the early treatises of Frazer and Tylor, to Geertz’s interpretivist frames, through to more recent debates on the cognitive foundations of belief and their limits, religion has assumed a pivotal role in theorizing what it is to be human. Our intention here is to invoke the investigative spirit of our disciplinary heritage to think through current religious and spiritual configurations. By bringing our ethnographic and theoretical tools to bear on an examination of the construction of a post-secular Europe and its governance, the relationship between transnational migrations and religiosity, processes of marginalization and the emergence of particular sacred spaces, among others, we aim to contribute to important debates on the contemporary Portuguese religious ecology.

The central objectives of the Anthropology of Religion working group (NAR) are to foment anthropological research on religion in Portugal and to build national and international networks of exchange and scientific production.

NAR brings together Portuguese anthropologists and foreign scholars carrying out research projects in Portugal, and is a space for receiving future scholars with connections to Portuguese academia, or those interested in forging these connections that have Portugal as their fieldwork site. In the second instance, the working group aims to establish institutional bridges that foster contact with foreign experts known for their contribution to these thematic areas.

All this implies cooperation with several institutions where the anthropological study of religion has become an increasing priority. In order to achieve this, NAR created a mailing list of members, holds periodic seminars with national and international specialists, organizes thematic conferences and meetings on both national and international scales and plans to create a platform of working papers, made available online.

To be a part of NAR, you need to have a background in anthropology – or related social sciences – and an interest in religion. To become a formal member of the group, send an e-mail to with your contacts, as well as a short biography and main publications’ list.