Introduction to Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion

Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion - Armin W. Geertz

Armin W. Geertz [+-]
Aarhus University
Armin W. Geertz is Emeritus Professor in the History of Religions at the Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is editor of the Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion and Advances in the Cognitive Science of Religion at Equinox. His interests and publications include the cognitive science of religion, evolutionary theory, psychology of religion, neuropsychology of religious experiences, ritual embodiment, method and theory in the study of religion, contemporary spirituality, and the religions of indigenous peoples. He recently co-authored The Emergence and Evolution of Religion: By Means of Natural Selection (Routledge 2018) together with Jonathan H. Turner, Alexandra Maryanski, and Anders Klostergaard Petersen.
Leonardo Ambasciano [+-]
independent researcher
Leonardo Ambasciano completed his Ph.D. on the cognitive and deep-historical re-evaluation of the ancient Roman cult of Bona Dea at the Department of Historical Studies, Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy. In 2016, he was Visiting Lecturer of Religious Studies at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. He is the author of Sciamanesimo senza sciamanesimo. Le radici intellettuali del modello sciamanico di Mircea Eliade: evoluzionismo, psicoanalisi, te(le)ologia (Rome: Nuova Cultura, 2014) and of various articles and book reviews. He is the European editor of the Journal of Cognitive Historiography.
Esther Eidinow [+-]
University of Bristol
Esther Eidinow is Professor of Ancient History in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Bristol. She has published widely in the field of ancient Greek religion, including Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks (2007, repr. 2013) and Luck, Fate and Fortune (2011). She is Senior Editor of the Journal of Cognitive Historiography.
Luther H. Martin [+-]
University of Vermont
Luther H. Martin is Professor Emeritus of Religion, University of Vermont. He also has been a Distinguished International Fellow at the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen’s University Belfast, and a Visiting Professor at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. He is the author of Hellenistic Religions (1987) and of numerous articles in this field of his historical specialization. He has also published widely in the field of theory and method in the study of religion, especially, in the area of cognitive theory and historiographical method, and has coedited several volumes in this area, including Past Minds: Studies in Cognitive Historiography (2011). He is a founding member of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion and is co-editor of its Journal of the Cognitive Science of Religion.
Kristoffer Laigaard Nielbo [+-]
Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University
Kristoffer L. Nielbo is a researcher and infrastructure manager at the Center for Humanities Computing, Aarhus University.
Nickolas P. Roubekas [+-]
University of Vienna
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Nickolas P. Roubekas is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria. Previously he held a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of South Africa as a member of the research project ‘Redescribing Graeco-Roman Antiquity,’ a teaching fellowship at the University of Aberdeen, U.K., and a research fellowship at the North-West University, South Africa. He has published articles and book reviews in various journals and is the author of Αναζητώντας τους Θεούς: Θρησκεία, Μύθος, Ουτοπία στον Ευήμερο τον Μεσσήνιο (Vanias, 2011) and An Ancient Theory of Religion: Euhemerism from Antiquity to the Present (Routledge, 2017). His research focuses on the Graeco-Roman world, method and theory in the study of religion, and the disciplinary intersection of Religious Studies, Classics, and Ancient History.
Valerie van Mulukom [+-]
Coventry University
Valerie completed her doctoral studies at the School of Psychology, the University of Auckland, New Zealand in 2014. There, she did work on the cognitive neuroscience of episodic memory and future event imagination. After her PhD, she completed a postdoctoral project at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she investigated the intersection between religious ritual and episodic memory. She then joined the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, where she worked on religion, memory, and group processes as part of the Ritual, Community, and Conflict project. Valerie joined the Brain, Belief, and Behaviour group at CABS, Coventry University, as Research Associate at the beginning of 2016. Research Interests: Belief; Cognitive science of religion; Imagination; Episodic memory; Creativity; Unbelief
Dimitris Xygalatas [+-]
University of Connecticut, United States, and Aarhus University, Denmark
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Dimitris Xygalatas holds a joint position between the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, where he is directing the Experimental Anthropology Lab. He has previously held positions at the universities of Princeton and Masaryk, where he served as Director of the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion. His main areas of interest are experimental anthropology and the experimental study of religion, and much of his work has focused on the practice of extreme rituals around the world. He has conducted several years of ethnographic research in Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, and Mauritius and has pioneered new methods, integrating ethnographic and experimental approaches in field research.


The cognitive science of religion (CSR) does not have its own methodology, and yet from the very beginnings of the discipline, methodology has defined it not only in relation to the general study of religion in the humanities but also to the sciences interested in the mind. CSR scholars are using a wide range of methodologies, borrowing mostly from the cognitive sciences and experimental psychology, but also from biology, archaeology, history, philosophy, linguistics, the social and statistical sciences, neurosciences, and anthropology. This multi-disciplinarity, in fact, defines the cognitive science of religion. Such multi-disciplinarity requires hard work and truly interdisciplinary teams, but also continual reflections on and debates about the methodologies being used. In fact, no CSR study worth its name can rely on only one methodology. Triangulation is standard, but often even more approaches are used. This book consists of selected papers from the Journal for the Cognitive Science of Religion and the Journal of Cognitive Historiography . Each chapter demonstrates a particular method or group of methods and how those methods advance our knowledge of the religious mind from the ancient past up to today.

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Geertz, Armin; Ambasciano, Leonardo; Eidinow, Esther; Martin, Luther; Nielbo, Kristoffer; Roubekas, Nickolas; van Mulukom, Valerie; Xygalatas, Dimitris. Introduction to Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion. Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Oct 2022. ISBN 9781800501614. Date accessed: 20 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43000. Oct 2022

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