Experiencing the Sacred between Religion and Spirituality

Convenors: Stefania Palmisano (University of Turin), Nicola Pannofino (University of Turin) ed Emily Pierini (University of Wales Trinity Saint David/The American University of Rome)

Religion” and “Spirituality” are terms of a binomial that is at the core of recent debates in the field of religious studies. Their relation is variably understood either as opposition or complementarity. In the first instance, according to the formula “spiritual but not religious” used by those who cultivate a personal relationship with the transcendent beyond institutionalized religions. In the latter one, spirituality expresses the subjective dimension of religion. Both these definitions emphasize lived experience, and especially a sacred that permeates everyday practices, close to the body, to sensory perception and to the agency of the person in transition between multiple secular spheres of society.

In order to delve into this field, we invite contributions grounded in ethnographic research focussing upon the relationship between religion and spirituality in the concrete social contexts of everyday life, and that stress a methodological reflection upon the status of ethnography in the study of lived religion and spirituality.

Some of the areas around which this theme can be developed are:

  • spirituality and religion in everyday life
  • spirituality and gender
  • body, emotions and spirituality
  • the perceptive dimension in the experience of the sacred
  • health, wellbeing and spirituality
  • spirituality and the notion of personhood
  • creative expressions of the religious in secular contexts
  • the ethnography of spirituality: how the ethnographer perceives the experiences of others


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