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Being Godless: Ethnographies of Atheism and Non-Religion

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Volume 1

Studies in Social Analysis

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Being Godless

Ethnographies of Atheism and Non-Religion

Edited by Ruy Llera Blanes and Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

154 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-628-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (May 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78533-573-0 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (May 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-574-7 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $27.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This [insightful volume] is a much-needed collection of multiple explanations of lived atheisms and non-religion from different settings…[It] will attract anthropologists and the general reader alike.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“The individual chapters and the introduction all contribute to advancing and nuancing existing theories of ‘non-religion’, religious disaffiliation, atheism, etc., and is, on the whole rather innovative, and well written.” • Anthropological Notebooks

“The volume excels at making clear the importance of geographic context in considering non-religion and society while simultaneously presenting research that raises big questions about contemporary non-religion…a sound contribution to the study of non-religion.” • Reading Religion


Drawing on ethnographic inquiry and the anthropological literature on doubt and atheism, this volume explores people's reluctance to pursue religion. The contributors capture the experiences of godless people and examine their perspectives on the role of religion in their personal and public lives. In doing so, the volume contributes to a critical understanding of the processes of disengagement from religion and reveals the challenges and paradoxes that godless people face.

Roy Llera Blanes is a Ramon y Cajal Fellow at the Spanish National Research Council.

Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.

Subject: Anthropology (General) Anthropology of Religion


Introduction: Godless People, Doubt, and Atheism
Ruy Llera Blanes and Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

Chapter 1. Ambivalent Atheist Identities: Power and Non-religious Culture in Contemporary Britain
Lois Lee

Chapter 2. Godless People and Dead Bodies: Materiality and the Morality of Atheist Materialism
Jacob Copeman and Johannes Quack

Chapter 3. Atheist Political Cultures in Independent Angola
Ruy Llera Blanes and Abel Paxe

Chapter 4. Forget Dawkins: Notes toward an Ethnography of Religious Belief and Doubt
Paul-François Tremlett and Fang-Long Shih

Chapter 5. Antagonistic Insights: Evolving Soviet Atheist Critiques of Religion and Why They Matter for Anthropology
Sonja Luehrmann

Chapter 6. Confessional Anthropology
Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

Chapter 7. On Atheism and Non-religion: An Afterword
Matthew Engelke


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