3. Experimental Cognitive Science of Religion
Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion - Armin W. Geertz
Dimitris Xygalatas [+]
University of Connecticut, United States, and Aarhus University, Denmark
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.
Since its inception, the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) has to a large extent moved from a cognitively-informed but interpretative focus to a hypothesis-driven experimental one. The experimental turn has allowed CSR scholars to practice more thoroughly interdisciplinary research and to engage in productive debates and collaborations with other disciplines. This direction has brought many benefits. However, CSR scholars will need to keep in mind that the strength of the field lies in its firm grounding in cultural expertise, and it is in this capacity that it can make its most important contributions.