Collected Essays of Leonard Norman Primiano
North American Religions
Published by: NYU Press
336 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 16 color illustrations
- ISBN: 9781479818679
- Published: December 2022
A comprehensive collection of the pioneering work of Leonard Norman Primiano, one of the preeminent scholars in religious studies
In 1995, Leonard Norman Primiano introduced the idea of “vernacular religion.” He coined this term to overcome the denigration implied in the concept of “folk religion” or “popular religion,” which was juxtaposed to “elite religion.” This two-tiered model suggested that religion existed somewhere in a pure form and that the folk version transforms it. Instead, Primiano urged scholars to adopt an inductive approach to the study of religion and to pay attention to experiential aspects of belief systems, ultimately redressing a heritage of scholarly misinterpretation.
Here for the first time, Leonard Norman Primiano’s pioneering works have been collected into one volume, providing a foundational look at one of the preeminent scholars of twentieth-century religious studies. Vernacular Religion makes visible the dimensions of vernacular religion in North America, exemplifying the richness of its ability to explain key facets of American society, including especially thorny issues around race and sexuality. The volume also demonstrates a method of abiding engagement, the creation of ongoing relationships with those who are studied, and how the relationship between scholars and the communities they study inform an ethics of critical commitment—what Primiano calls an “ethnography of collaboration and reciprocity.”
This posthumous collection, edited by Deborah Dash Moore, brings together key studies in vernacular religion that explore its expression among such varied groups as Catholics, LGBTQ Christians, and the followers of Father Divine. Vernacular Religion models empathetic ethnographic engagement that embraces American religion in all its rich diversity, illuminating Primiano’s enduring legacy.