At home with the dead: Spiritualism, domesticity and the quiet contestation of authority

Contesting Authority - Vernacular Knowledge and Alternative Beliefs - Marion Bowman

Marion Bowman [+-]
Open University
Marion Bowman joined the Religious Studies department at The Open University in 2000. She is currently Vice-President, European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR) and a former president of both the British Association for the Study of Religions and of The Folklore Society. Working at the interstices of religious studies and folklore, her research interests are very much rooted in vernacular religion: the lived experiences, worldviews, practices and material culture of individuals and groups within, on the margins of and beyond institutional religion. She has conducted long term studies of Glastonbury, on which she has published extensively. She co-edited Vernacular religion in Everyday Life: Expression of Belief (Equinox 2012) with Ülo Valk, and is currently working on a three year research project, Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, Past and Present: http://www.pilgrimageandcathedrals.ac.uk/about

Description

Spiritualism in Britain traditionally has had a marginal and ambivalent relationship with various aspects of mainstream society: the law, the institutional Christian Church, and secular worldviews. Key beliefs such as the communion of spirits, the ministry of angels, the continuous existence of the human soul, and by extension the ability to communicate with deceased loved ones, have caused it to be denounced and derided for decades. However, it has nonetheless existed as a constant if somewhat neglected phenomenon in British religious and spiritual life, providing comfort, hope, healing and alternative sources of experience and authority not only for its members, but for those of other religious persuasion or none who have been drawn to it, often in times of crisis. This chapter explores both the domestic and gendered aspects of Spiritualism (which have perhaps contributed to its neglect or undervaluing as a religious phenomenon), and the ways in which it quietly contests authority.

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Citation

Bowman, Marion. At home with the dead: Spiritualism, domesticity and the quiet contestation of authority. Contesting Authority - Vernacular Knowledge and Alternative Beliefs. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2020. ISBN 9781781792377. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=29221. Date accessed: 22 Sep 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.29221. Oct 2020

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