Carnal Exhibitions: Material Religion and the European Court of Human Rights

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This article presents an anthropological account of the European Court of Human Rights' approach to material religion. Focusing on a range of cases involving an alleged violation of Article 9 – the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – in relation to such diverse religious objects as cassette players, incense, crucifixes, photographs and cross necklaces, it draws on ethnographic studies of material culture to suggest a disconnect between the Court's emphasis on religion as belief and the lived experience of embodied, sensual and object-oriented religious practice. It concludes that Article 9's privileging of the forum internum over material practice has contributed to an immaterial view of religion and religious life. Such an understanding ultimately fails to appreciate the importance of objects in the creation, expression and maintenance of religious worlds.</jats:p>
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcclesiastical Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


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