In this collection of three articles that draw on ethnographic research and a more theoretical afterword, we seek to stimulate debate and substantive analysis by looking beyond the dominant approaches towards religion, state, and society through a focus on pilgrimage from a relational perspective. Rather than draw on explanations that concentrate on human actions, meanings, and interpretations, such as those informed by representational, interpretive, and hermeneutic approaches to human thought and practice, we explore the relationship between humans and those who could be defined as ‘other-than-humans’ or ‘non-humans’, such as animals, plants, and things, and who are seen as possessing their own being and immanent agency where they affect humans rather than just being the object of our affections or control. We begin by introducing the dominant approaches towards religion and pilgrimage and then outline the ways in which alternative avenues have been explored through a relational approach towards the links between people, places, and materialities. The four contributions are then introduced and the key points drawn out before discussing how this collection can encourage the exploration of avenues beyond the dominant approach, not only in pilgrimage research but also in the study of religion, state, and society more generally.
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- immanent agency
- relational perspective