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Beyond Conversion: Socio-Mental Flexibility and Multiple Religious Participation in African-Derived Lukumi and Ifa

sociology-of-religionJournal abstract

Despite recent attention to issues of religious diversification, mobility, and multiplicity, few sociologists have attended to the socio-cognitive dimensions of multiple religious participation. Sociologists have long suggested that the socio-mental processes involved in the addition of new religions differ from those found in religious conversion, but more work is needed to fill out this process. In particular, we need to move beyond seeing religious addition as simply a partial or lesser version of conversion. Analyzing narratives of people who include religious participation in African-derived traditions alongside other religious involvement may be particularly instructive in this regard, as they have an extensive history of multiple religious involvement. In the present article, I draw from interviews with Lukumi and Ifa multiple religious participators in the United States, noting three patterns in the narratives that display a socio-mental “style” that may distinguish multiple religious participators from converts more generally.