Butinage: The Art of Religious Mobility

By Yonatan N. Gez, Yvan Droz, Jeanne Rey, and Edio Soares

© 2021

Based on comparative ethnographic research in four countries and three continents, Butinage: The Art of Religious Mobility explores the notion of "religious butinage" as a conceptual framework intended to shed light on the dynamics of everyday religious practice. Derived from the French word butiner, which refers to the foraging activity of bees and other pollinating insects, this term is employed by the authors metaphorically to refer to the "to-ing and fro-ing" of believers between religious institutions.

Focused on urban, predominantly Christian settings in Brazil, Kenya, Ghana, and Switzerland, Butinage examines commonalities and differences across the four case studies and identifies religious mobility as existing at the meeting points of religious-institutional rules and narratives, social norms, and individual agency and practice. Drawing on anglophone, francophone, and lusophone academic traditions, Butinage is dedicated to a dialogue between ethnographic findings and theoretical ideas, and explores how we may rethink common conceptions of religious normativity.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP006567

  • PUBLISHED MAR 2021

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    ISBN 9781487508807
  • PUBLISHED MAR 2021

    From: $45.00

    Regular Price: $60.00

Quick Overview

Using the metaphor of "religious butinage," this book explores the idea of religious practices as predominantly mobile, eschewing rigid frameworks oriented around exclusive categories of membership and conversion.

Butinage: The Art of Religious Mobility

By Yonatan N. Gez, Yvan Droz, Jeanne Rey, and Edio Soares

© 2021

Based on comparative ethnographic research in four countries and three continents, Butinage: The Art of Religious Mobility explores the notion of "religious butinage" as a conceptual framework intended to shed light on the dynamics of everyday religious practice. Derived from the French word butiner, which refers to the foraging activity of bees and other pollinating insects, this term is employed by the authors metaphorically to refer to the "to-ing and fro-ing" of believers between religious institutions.

Focused on urban, predominantly Christian settings in Brazil, Kenya, Ghana, and Switzerland, Butinage examines commonalities and differences across the four case studies and identifies religious mobility as existing at the meeting points of religious-institutional rules and narratives, social norms, and individual agency and practice. Drawing on anglophone, francophone, and lusophone academic traditions, Butinage is dedicated to a dialogue between ethnographic findings and theoretical ideas, and explores how we may rethink common conceptions of religious normativity.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "In this ambitious book there is a whole new framework within which scholars and students can work. Here the study of religion is freed from its focus on institutions and theologies, and we as readers are enabled to follow people as they move through the religious world. This book allows us to see religion as people ordinarily experience it: as a set of options, not a destination."


    Derek R. Peterson, University of Michigan

    "This expansive book offers an important corrective to a common perception of individuals’ religious identities and belief systems as fixed and immutable. Instead, the cross-regional comparisons in this book demonstrate persuasively how many people experience the fluidity of religious practice across interdenominational spaces. This dynamic reality – based on individual agency as well as local social practice and institutional rules – is a process of making and remaking the self, both responding to and renegotiating culture and personal identity." 


    Rachel Riedel-Prabhakar, Towson University

    "In a world of dangerously fundamentalist extremes, this is a wonderfully sane exploration of the dynamism of the everyday enquiry, within interdenominational arenas of familiar religious practice, that areis for perhaps most people a more trustworthy part of their religious repertoire than doctrinal belief. Through The authors' fieldwork and shows, through lively personal narratives Butinage reveals , that even the bashful Swiss share this searching test of religious possibility with more boisterous Brazilians, mobile Ghanaians, and entrepreneurial Kenyans."


    John Lonsdale, University of Cambridge
  • Author Information

    Yonatan N. Gez is a Humboldt Fellow at the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute and a research associate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.


    Yvan Droz is a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.


    Jeanne Rey is a professor at the University of Teacher Education in Fribourg and a research associate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.


    Edio Soares is a Research Associate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements

    Part I:  Rethinking Religious Normativity

    1. Introduction: The Mobile Religious Practitioner
    1.1. The Mobile Practitioner
    1.2. The Butinage Metaphor
    1.3. The Structure of this Book

    2. Religious Mobility: Current Debates
    2.1. The Conceptual Limitations of Religious Conversion
    2.2. Religious Combinations and Syncretism
    2.3. ‘Lived Religion’ and Everyday Religion
    2.4. Conclusion

    Part II:  Case Studies

    Introduction to Part II: Methodology

    3. Neighborliness as a Driver for Mobility in Brazil
    3.1. The Circularity of Practice
    3.2. Territories and Bridges
    3.3. Butinage and Neighborliness
    3.4. Conclusion

    4. The Kenyan Case: Dynamism and Precariousness
    4.1. The Kenyan Religious Landscape
    4.2. Hierarchy in Practice: Members Versus Visitors
    4.3. Return Mobility
    4.4. A Precarious Religious Landscape: Scandals, Schisms, and Sects
    4.5. Conclusion

    5. Mobility Intertwined: Migration, Kinship, and Education in Ghana
    5.1. Religious Pluralism in Ghana
    5.2. Religious Trajectories: Intertwined Kinship, Migration, and Educational Strategies
    5.3. Additional Practices: Logics and Economies of Religious Mobility
    5.4. Conclusion

    6. Religion and Mobility in Switzerland: A Most Private Affair
    6.1. Uneasiness with Religion: ‘Institutionalists’ Versus ‘Seculars’
    6.2. Between Embrace and Suspicion: ‘Distanced’ Practitioners
    6.3. Eastern Religions, Animism, and New Age: ‘Alternatives’
    6.4. Butinage in Action
    6.5. Between Religious Heritage and Religion as a Taboo
    6.6. Conclusion

    Part III:  Between a Metaphor and a Model
    7. Between Bees and Flowers
    7.1. A Typology of Butineurs
    7.2. Territories
    7.3. From ‘Motivation’ to ‘Logic’
    7.4. Degrees of Practice and Their Complementarity
    7.5. Conclusion

    8. From Religious Mobility to Dynamic Religious Identities
    8.1. Familiarity and Familiarization
    8.2. Religious Repertoires
    8.3. Religious Identity in Context and Motion
    8.4. Conclusion 

    9. Conclusion: The Peripatetic Practitioner

    Annex: Interview Guide
    Bibliography

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