Anna Bigelow et al., "Islam Through Objects" (Bloomsbury, 2021)


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Islam through Objects (Bloomsbury, 2021) represents the state of the field of Islamic material cultural studies. With contributions from scholars of religion, anthropologists, art historians, folklorists, historians, and other disciplines, Anna Bigelow, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University, brings together a wide range of perspectives on Islamic materiality to debunk myths of Islamic aversion to material aspects of religion. Each chapter focuses on a single object in daily use by Muslims, including prayer beads, coins, amulets, a cistern well, clothing, jewelry, and bodily and domestic adornments, to consider both generic and particular aspects of the object in question. Framed by an introduction that assesses the various approaches to Islamic material culture in recent scholarship, Islam through Objects provides a template for the study of religion and material culture, which engages current theory, subtle and nuanced narratives, and the creative and imaginal capacities of Muslims through history. In our conversation we discussed key subjects in material religion scholarship, theological foundations for Islamic notions of materiality, the uses of visual images as historical vantage points, the role of objects as a means for marking and making identity, the life of material items in ritual and social action, and the future study of Islam through objects.

Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at

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