For many religious traditions, “conversion” names a foundational religious experience, definitive of what it means to be part of the religious tradition. However, discussions of religious conversion have fallen on hard times as a result of the association of conversion with colonial expansionism, social exclusion, and religious conflict. Even when the pursuit of religious conversion explicitly rejects violent means of coercion, conversion has often carried with it the implicit submission to dominant cultural, political, and economic systems.’ The experience of conversion in this manner facilitates the expansion of cultural structures including language, gender, race, ethnicity, political orders, and economic systems.2 Yet, conversion remains significant to religious identity and the ability to respond to the colonial history of religious conversion requires conversions that resist material, cultural, and political domination. Religious studies and theology need new ways of conceptualizing conversion that are responsive to the material, cultural, and political dimensions of conversion and attend to forms of religious conversion that resist domination.
KeywordsReligious Tradition Religious Community Religious Experience Religious Involvement Religious Identity
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